Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will introduce a new Black Panther. And if the comics are any indication, Princess Shuri might be the new hero behind the mask. Director Ryan Coogler was forced to re-write his original script for the film following the tragic and unexpected passing of Chadwick Boseman; however, existing comics canon has already laid out a blueprint for a passing of the torch. Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr. introduced Princess Shuri in Black Panther #2 (2005). The comics version of the character has a fascinating arc. She becomes the Princess Regent of Wakanda and Black Panther. Shuri eventually sacrifices her life to save T’Challa’s; however, she later experiences a resurrection that gives her the powers of a griot spirit.
With the film’s upcoming release, Hudlin’s Black Panther run is an essential read for fans of the character. But there are also some other key comics that could offer important clues about what will happen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Black Panther (2009) #1-12
This series—which may serve as the primary inspiration for the upcoming film—was written by Reginald Hudlin and Jonathan Maberry, with art by Ken Lashley and Will Conrad. In this story, T’Challa is critically injured and comatose after a secret mission and Shuri is next to become the Black Panther. In preparation, she trains extensively, takes the heart shaped herb, and meets the panther god Bast for approval.
As Black Panther, Shuri survives an assassination attempt, seemingly by Namor, which leads to an epic battle between the two. With the help of the Fantastic Four, the heroes discover that Namor was framed by the villain Doctor Doom. This sets up a major storyline known as Doom War, where Doom steals Wakanda’s vibranium.
Ken Lashley/Will Conrad/Marvel Comics
Shuri’s growth and development in these comics issues provides a glimpse of what we can expect with Letitia Wright’s character in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As in the comics, Shuri may not be ready to become the Black Panther at first. But her response to adversity in the film may prepare her for the role as Wakanda’s protector. Shuri’s battle with Namor in this run is a standout sequence. Comic readers will undoubtedly be eager to see replicated onscreen.
There are additional story elements in this series that could also translate to the film. They include outside parties seeking to steal Wakanda’s vibranium, the interaction between Black Panther and Bast (who was first introduced into the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder), and the citizens of Wakanda growing discontent after the loss of T’Challa.
Black Panther (2016) #1-12
After T’Challa’s eventual return, both he and Shuri are Black Panthers until Shuri sacrifices her life fighting Thanos’ Black Order. In 2016, acclaimed author Ta-Nehisi Coates and artists Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse took over the Black Panther comic for this story that reinvents Shuri. It also dramatically changes the relationship between Black Panther and the elite Wakandan warriors, the Dora Milaje.
Shuri is led on a spiritual journey by a spirit in the form of Queen Ramonda. Her resurrection takes place there and she emerges with the ancestral knowledge of Wakanda and new powers. Meanwhile, two members of the Dora—Ayo and Aneka—lead a revolution in Wakanda. The pair don prototype armor and adopt the moniker Midnight Angels.
This series previews the kind of spiritual growth that Shuri will need to become the Black Panther in Wakanda Forever. That is, if it’s her destiny. And it will surely come with Ramonda’s support. We do know that the film has already taken design inspirations from this series. We see Shuri’s ceremonial look and the blue armor of the Midnight Angels. (Michaela Coel’s Aneka and Danai Gurira’s Okoye wear those costumes in trailers.) One might reasonably predict that it will also borrow story elements regarding Shuri’s development and the role of the Midnight Angels.
Shuri (2018) #1-5 & #8-10
Nigerian American author Nnedi Okorafor and artists Leonardo Romero and Rachael Stott built on Shuri’s refreshed character. This series focuses exclusively on the Wakandan Princess. After T’Challa goes missing, Shuri gets pressure to once again become the Black Panther, which she resists this time. Eventually, she recognizes the importance of the mantle as a unifying symbol for Wakanda and the pan-African community and embraces the role.
Shuri in this series is likely to be the closest characterization to what we will see in Wakanda Forever. She will have to blend her various responsibilities as princess, scientist, and possibly the new Black Panther. She becomes a leader trying to manage obligations to her country and the outside world. This is a theme that the leader of Wakanda will face following the first Black Panther film when the country revealed itself to the rest of the world.
Ironheart (2018) #9-12
Another potential role for Shuri in Wakanda Forever is that of mentor to Riri Williams, who will be getting her own Disney+ show. Shuri’s relationship with Riri looks to be an important part of the film. So this Ironheart comic by award-winning poet Eve Ewing and artist Luciano Vecchio is a foundational story. The key issues are #9-12, where Williams travels to Wakanda. After initially butting heads, Shuri and Okoye team-up with Riri to battle the villainous Ten Rings. Their interaction helps Riri to grow as a hero in the process.
Marvel Comics/Eve Ewing/Luciano Vecchio
Shuri and Riri have an enjoyable dynamic of shared stubbornness and mutual admiration that we can expect to see replicated in Wakanda Forever. In the film, part of Shuri’s development should include becoming a mentor for Riri and helping her begin her own heroic journey. Introducing Riri in this film reflects a connection between her and Wakanda that this run established in the comics canon.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11 and we can’t wait to see what elements of these comics show up in its thrilling story.