Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is poised to be a major part of the massive Phase 4 slate of the MCU as it will pay tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman while also answering the question of who will take the mantle of the titular hero.
Directed by Black Panther's Ryan Coogler, the film will showcase the return of franchise mainstays like Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, and Letitia Wright.
Plot details of Wakanda Forever are still being kept under wraps, but set photos confirmed that another MCU star will be featured in the film in the form of Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams aka Ironheart. Production is currently underway for Wakanda Forever with scenes being filmed at the MIT campus in Boston, Massachusetts.
It is unknown how Wakanda Forever will honor Boseman's legacy while still showcasing the next Black Panther in the sequel, but previous comments from the cast and crew suggest that Marvel Studios has a plan in place to sort everything out.
Now, ahead of the sequel's 2022 release, it looks like a major Black Panther star has been tapped to play a more significant role for the MCU moving forward.
SHURI WILL RETURN AFTER WAKANDA FOREVER
Bleeding Cool shared in a report that Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri in the Black Panther franchise, signed a contract for multiple movies with Marvel Studios, allowing the actress to continue playing the role beyond Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The outlet also unveiled that Wakanda Forever is a "double-hander" since it will feature both Dominique Thorne's Ironheart and Shuri together, potentially setting up the former's Disney+ series. Bleeding Cool also shared that Shuri will become the MCU's new Black Panther in the sequel.
WHERE WILL SHURI APPEAR NEXT?
Many fans theorized that Wright's Shuri will take over the Black Panther mantle from T'Challa in the upcoming sequel; it makes narrative sense due to the fact that she is next in line for the high honor. Now, it looks like those theories may come true based on this latest rumor.
Ahead of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel has been slowly setting the stage for Shuri's prominent takeover of the MCU. In a 2018 interview with The Wired, Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo shared that Shuri is the "smartest character" in the MCU, and this was further amplified by the plethora of breakthroughs that was chronicled by the Wakandan princess in the canon tie-in book entitled The Wakanda Files.
In many ways, passing the Black Panther mantle to Shuri would likely serve as a fitting tribute to both T'Challa and the late Chadwick Boseman as the pair had a strong bond on and off-screen. If the rumor is true, it would allow Shuri to continue the legacy of her brother by further allowing Wakanda to open its borders to the rest of the world, further cementing the ending of the first film.
It's also worth noting that unused concept art from Black Panther already showcased Shuri's potential look as the next Wakandan hero. Back then, it seemed that this art came from various brainstorming sessions from the film, but this could serve as a blueprint for Shuri's future Black Panther design.
It remains to be seen when Shuri will pop up next, but it's possible that she will likely have a guest role in several Disney+ projects like Ironheart and the reported Wakanda spinoff. As for the movie side of things, there's a strong chance that she will pop up in Captain America 4, potentially giving assistance to Anthony Mackie's Captain America and likely addressing Wakanda's aid during The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
There's also a chance that Shuri could pop up in Avengers 5, officially taking the place of T'Challa and acting as one of the brain trusts of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to premiere in theaters on July 8, 2022.