Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is primed and ready to round out the MCU's theatrical slate for 2022 and Phase 4 as a whole. The upcoming sequel has had its fair share of bumps in the road during production, the most difficult being the tragic passing of star Chadwick Boseman.
Boseman's untimely death sent shockwaves through not just Marvel Studios, but the movie industry as a whole. And it left the MCU with some pretty impressive shoes to fill when it comes to who would take on the franchise's Black Panther mantle going forward.
Speculation has run rampant since the T'Challa actor's passing, with a number of names coming up as to who be the Black Panther in Wakanda Forever. With the first trailer for the sequel, audiences have gotten a strong indication that Letitia Wright's Shuri will take over the mantle, and fans have made their thoughts on the prospect known.
Fans Sound Off on the New Black Panther
Fans online shared their thoughts after the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer - released as a part of San Diego Comic-Con - hinted at Letitia Wright's Shuri taking over the mantle of the MCU's Black Panther.
Matt Ramos (aka @TheRealSupes) started a bit of a debate online after he Tweeted saying that if Shuri is the next Black Panther he hopes "she goes through training throughout the movie." He brought up this training because he would find it a "little convenient" if she were to just take the "heart-shaped herb & whoops Namor" after "he’s been a warrior his whole life:"
"If Shuri does become the new Black Panther, I hope she goes through training throughout the movie. Even then it’d be a little convenient if she just takes the heart-shaped herb & whoops Namor when he’s been a warrior his whole life."
This spurred conversation, with a number of people responding to Ramos' thoughts. @POCculture went against Supes, noting that it would be "unrealistic" to believe that Shuri, who is "the 2nd in line in a royal family of Black Panthers" never trained for a moment like this:
"You gotta love how people assume that Shuri, the 2nd in line in a royal family of Black Panthers, has never trained. THAT would actually be the unrealistic part. Stories are rife w/ male characters suddenly going from zero to hero but THIS they can’t accept."
@JordisTweeting made the point that Shuri is ready for this, highlighting that she "was literally one of the first people to arrive for the final battle in Endgame:"
"Shuri was literally one of the first people to arrive for the final battle in Endgame."
@AlishaGrauso also disagreed with Ramos, making mention that "never saw T'Challa train," going on to make the implication that the only difference between T'Challa and Shuri is their gender:
"And yet we never saw T'Challa train. I wonder what the difference is..."
@thescarletprint emphasized that this is the same character fans have already seen "fighting in Black Panther and Infinity War/Endgame," saying Shuri "clearly had combat training growing up:"
"The same Shuri we saw fighting in Black Panther and Infinity War/Endgame? The Wakandan ROYAL that would’ve clearly had combat training growing up??"
@SuperSuitShow tweeted that "When it was a man he didn't need to be shown training" so why should it be different for a woman who "grew up in the same house with the same advantages:"
"When it was a man he didn't need to be shown training... now that it is a woman, Matt here feels they need to explain it to him. Not like they grew up in the same house with the same advantages or anything."
But that is not to say there is no one who agrees with Ramos. @Chiefkeith94 responded to this question of "training" by saying "it’s a fair question to ask:"
"I don’t understand how can y’all take this the wrong way it has been implied that T’Challa trained and fought his whole life to be take the mantle it’s a fair question to ask if it’s Shuri how can she make up that gap it could be explained in the movie but it’s a fair question"
@_MrQuoteMe said that it would be more fun if, at the end of the film, it was revealed that "boom it’s Nakia" who would be the new Black Panther:
"For this reason I feel like it’s gone be nakia she already got fight training I think it’s gone make everybody think it’s shuri right up until the end then boom it’s Nakia lol. Would honestly be kinda dope but I’m hype for either one"
@AlexCrossFader came down on the same side of the argument as Ramos, noting that fans have been "shown that Shuri isn't a good hand-to-hand fighter," and earning the title of Black Panther "requires hand-to-hand combat against Wakandans best warriors:"
"Nah, this ain't it. In the MCU we were shown that Shuri isn't a good hand-to-hand fighter. Earning the title of Black Panther requires hand-to-hand combat against Wakandans best warriors."
@guy_lnd voiced his disdain for both the MCU's T'Challa and Shuri, posting that director Ryan Coogler "showed he doesn’t really get" what made either character great, calling his versions "bland, one dimensional and ultimately replaceable:"
"Ryan Coogler showed he doesn’t really get what made Shuri (a badass warrior princess) or T’Challa (a super genius as regal as he is ruthless) great characters in the first place. His versions are bland, one dimensional and ultimately replaceable in Black Panther #RecastTChalla"
And @KeiziTV remarked that he doesn't "want Shuri to be the next BP," mentioning that the character is "VERY intellectually gifted" and that trait is "rarely built upon," so making her Black Panther would "take away from such an important characteristic:"
"I DO NOT want Shuri to be the next BP. This has nothing to do with her being a woman and I know it’s in comics. Shuri is a VERY intellectually gifted character, that’s been rarely built upon. I feel like her as the new BP would take away from such an important characteristic."
Is Shuri Black Panther Worthy?
If one were to poll a thousand Marvel fans, asking what they thought of Shuri becoming the next Black Panther, surely there would be just as much indecision as there is amongst the above tweets. This is a big decision after losing one of the most celebrated in MCU history.
And there is no right answer here, at least until fans see the movie. The only people that know who will take on the Black Panther mantle are the people working directly on Wakanda Forever. For now, fans just need to trust that they know best.
As for the mention of a lack of training being used as the reason not to allow Shuri to succeed T'Challa, audiences have seen the Wakandan princess in the throws of battle before, as noted above.
If she were to take on the Black Panther mantle, she would likely fight/look a little different than her older brother did, but that is to be expected with anyone. She would be a different version of the masked hero because he is a different person, but that would make her no lesser of a Black Panther.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11.