MCU Writer Reveals 2 Black Panther Replacements Considered Instead of Shuri

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Black Panther, Shuri, Letita Wright

Before Marvel Studios introduced Shuri as the new Black Panther in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a few alternate options were brought up in the discussion.

The chatter regarding the MCU's new Black Panther raged on for most of the past two years ahead of the release of Black Panther 2, which included a number of options after Chadwick Boseman's tragic passing. Marvel Studios did its best to hide who the new Wakandan warrior was in its marketing campaign, waiting until only a couple of weeks before the movie's debut to let any information out on the big reveal.

In the end, Letitia Wright's Shuri wound up taking the mantle over for her late brother, reluctantly recreating the Heart-Shaped Herb before she went to battle for her country against Namor the Sub-Mariner. While she was always at the top of most fans' lists in regard to who was most likely to take the mantle, there were a number of potential candidates from all over Wakanda that could have donned the vibranium suit.

Now, only a short time after Black Panther 2 started its impressive run in theaters, a couple of the film's top behind-the-scenes creatives shared new information on who else could have taken over that important role.

Other Black Panther Options in MCU Sequel

Shuri, Black Panther Wakanda Forever

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole discussed other characters that could have become the MCU's new Black Panther before Shuri took the position.

Cole explained that the team "would kick around the ideas" and look at what made the best choice for the story and the journey in this new movie, along with where things go in the future. One name that made its way through the wringer was Winston Duke's M'Baku, with Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia also coming into the discussion more than once:

Joe Robert Cole: "We would kick around the ideas, and try to extrapolate where the story goes and what’s the most impactful choice — what’s the best journey? And where do you go after the film in terms of those characters. M’Baku certainly was someone that got kicked around a little bit. I think you’re correct because in the comics, Shuri is Black Panther and there’s a natural organicness, I guess is the best way to say it, to her becoming Panther. But you kick the tires on all sorts of ideas. And you just want to make the best decision and do what’s best for the story."

Rolling Stone: "Nakia [Lupita Nyong’o] could’ve been great, too."

Cole: "That got kicked around! Her name got kicked around for sure."

Marvel Studios VP of Production & Development Nate Moore also spoke with Marvel about the decision to make Shuri the Black Panther, wanting it to be "the most organic storytelling choice" behind an actress that could take on that responsibility:

“[Shuri] just felt like the most organic storytelling choice. We had a performer that we knew could carry that if she agreed to do it. We didn’t really explore other options that thoroughly because this just felt like the right thing to do.”

He recalled how Wright "wanted and wants to do right by this franchise," although she was initially blown away by the call for Shuri to be the new Black Panther. He also gave Wright a great deal of credit for wanting to help keep the franchise going, taking on an incredible "responsibility as a storyteller" with the new role:

“She understood A, what it means to people generally, and B, I think what this franchise meant to Chadwick, as an artist, and as a performer... While I’m not sure that she ever envisioned herself donning the mantle and carrying this film, she was 100% game. I think that’s a credit to her and to her spirit. To come to her and say, hey, we want to continue this franchise, and we think you’re the right person to be at the center of it was a big ask. But she was game for it and has never blanched from that responsibility as a storyteller.”

Director/writer Ryan Coogler also noted how much sense it made for Shuri to move into that role, noting that she "would be the most affected" by T'Challa's death. That helped clarify that she should be the focal point of Black Panther 2:

“It’s hard to say it was obvious because Chad’s passing was so unexpected, but it was a choice that made a lot of sense. As we realized what the [theme] was and when you talk about T’Challa passing, who would be the most affected by that? It became clear that Shuri should be the nexus of our movie.”

Why Shuri Was Chosen as Black Panther 2's Leading Hero

Looking at both M'Baku and Nakia's histories in the MCU, it makes plenty of sense why both of them were worthy of consideration for Wakanda's new Black Panther after T'Challa's death.

M'Baku is one of the country's strongest warriors, which would have only been the case tenfold if he were given the Heart-Shaped Herb and the superpowers that came with it. He's even in line already to be the next King of Wakanda, helping Shuri in a leadership position for the country and taking on the best role for him as Wakanda looks towards its new era.

Nakia would have been another interesting decision, as she was the love of T'Challa's life and the eventual father of his child, and she even had experience as a warrior after the first Black Panther movie. But for her, she appeared to have fully embraced her role as a mother to the young Prince T'Challa, taking on potentially a much greater responsibility in raising Wakanda's future king.

When the dust settled, Shuri became the clear choice for the team behind Black Panther 2, being T'Challa's brother, Wakanda's chief scientist, and the natural heir to the throne all in one. It even seemingly helped that she was reluctant to take over the role at first, but she embraced the duty with her entire being as she decided it was the best move for her people.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- In This Article: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release Date
November 11, 2022
- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.