Marvel has confirmed a connection between Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger and Shuri's Black Panther suit.
Leading up to its theatrical release, Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler made it known that the sequel would address the death of Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, introduce audiences to Ironheart's Riri Williams, and debut Namor the Sub-Mariner with his underwater world of Talocan.
But there was another reveal Marvel shared with fans ahead of time.
The first teaser for Black Panther 2 offered eagle-eyed audiences a generous glimpse at the next Black Panther suit; and by the time the film debuted, fans had seen Letitia Wright's Black Panther suit in full.
However, while the suit mirrored Shuri and her traditional facial markings, the MCU faithful couldn't help but notice its gold accents evoked someone else, which fueled theories at to the many ways a certain Black Panther fan-favorite could return.
Killmonger & Shuri Connection Confirmed
When asked if Shuri's Black Panther suit referenced any previous Black Panthers, Ryan Meinerding, Marvel Studios' Head of Visual Development, confirmed that it is "kind of a combination between T'Challa's suit and Killmonger's suit."
At a critical point in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Shuri is successful in recreating the heart-shaped herb from the 2018 film and entering the ancestral plane.
But instead of seeing her brother or her parents or T'Challa, Shuri sees her cousin, Erik Killmonger, who pinpoints her drive for revenge, and, as explained by the movie's writer, sets the course for her actions across the rest of the flick.
Given Michael B. Jordan's villain's influence on Shuri's first steps as the Black Panther, many fans assumed her gold-accented suit was a callback to her cousin; and apparently, that's exactly what Marvel Studios had in mind.
In talking about the Marvel tradition of passing a mantle (like the Black Panther) from one character to another, Meinerding explained how the "symbol of that mantle" changes and character suits "end up meaning something:"
"One of the fun things about Marvel Studios and Marvel comics is that their characters that have these sort of mantles that can get passed from one character to another. That symbol of that mantle becomes different and changed in some way when the new character takes it over. The suits that we start with end up meaning something, and then how they translate into the next film and the next film seem to like become useful in the storytelling going forward."
He also noted that, while T'Challa made the suit he wore in Captain America: Civil War, Shuri made both his new suit and Killmonger's suit in the original Black Panther film:
"And, when we were working on the Black Panther suit for Civil War, that ended up being sort of termed T'Challa's suit. I think in the Black Panther movie where T'Challa explains to Shuri that was what he had developed, and Shuri creates that suit in Black Panther, right? And, Killmonger ends up taking that gold suit and sort of making it his own by the end of that film."
In regard to how Marvel referenced both T'Challa and Killmonger in Shuri's suit, Meinerding revealed that there are "subtle nods to each" former suit and "a bit of a throughline" representing her brother and "things she needed to learn from Killmonger:"
"Essentially, the suit that Shuri ends up with is kind of a combination between T'Challa's suit and Killmonger's suit. A mix of the silver and the gold. That's the panther she needed to become in order to fight Namor at the end. There are some subtle nods to each one of those suits in the final design, but it really is as simple as the color schemes being the silver and the gold being the two things. There is a bit of throughline for it representing her fallen brother, as well as begrudgingly representing things she needed to learn from Killmonger."
As for a few of those "nods," Shuri's suit is mostly black, like T'Challa's, while Killmonger's has gold jaguar detailing.
But hers does mirror Killmonger's in that it's flashier with not only gold accents but gold panther claws while adding a little of Shuri's own unique flare to it.
Although this golden design wasn't always part of the plan, as Marvel Studios has already revealed a look at 14 other designs that were considered for Shuri's Black Panther attire. And even before the idea of her becoming the next Wakanda hero came about, she even almost donned wings into battle.
How Shuri Made Her Black Panther Suit Her Own
Audiences fully expected Shuri to evoke her brother's legacy in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
What they didn't expect is Killmonger being the family member she saw in the Ancestral Plane and who motivated her to attack Namor.
Given this plot twist, it makes sense that Shuri's first Black Panther suit was reminiscent of both her brother and her cousin.
After all, she is more like Killmonger heading into the third act of the film, and the writer of Black Panther 2 has already explained why he narratively slots into Shuri's journey.
However, right when she's at the tipping point in her duel with Namor, she sees her mother, remembers who she is, and chooses a path other than revenge, just like her brother. Technically, this moment is when she truly becomes a hero.
Then again, that's not to say Killmonger is entirely an evil force to guide Shuri, even Michael B. Jordan believes his MCU character is misunderstood as a villain.
In this sense, her suit is an example of how the Black Panther mantle came full circle.
Just like how Killmonger takes the gold suit Shuri made and makes it "his own by the end of the film," Shuri made his influences - and his suit - her own by the end of her origin story.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is playing in theaters worldwide.