Black Panther 2 may have been forced to undergo more changes before getting in front of cameras than any other MCU outing. After all, an entire T'Challa-led script treatment was been written - which the Black Panther star refused to read - prior to Boseman's passing triggered countless changes.
Although few details are known about the various iterations of Wakanda Forever, concept art has already highlighted some evolutions in the story and designs. Among these reveals has been a completely different setting for the Wakanda vs. Talokan final battle, as well as many alternate costumes for Shuri's Black Panther.
These 14 costume designs for Shuri ranged between simple color variations, completely different looks altogether, and even one that featured sneakers. Well now, another take on Shuri's costume has been revealed that featured the Wakandan princess-turned-hero wearing wings into combat.
Marvel's New Black Panther Almost Wore Wings
Marvel Studios concept artist Phil Saunders recently took to Instagram to share the first design he did for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which was created several months prior to Chadwick Boseman's passing. This design featured both Shuri and Ironheart in action, with an interesting twist to the Wakandan princess' attire.
As this design comes prior to Boseman's passing the story changes it brought, Shuri is not the Black Panther in this design but was instead just getting involved with the action using her own technology.
Among this technology were her usual gauntlets, as well as a set of wings that would have allowed her to take to the skies alongside Riri Williams.
Shuri actually has a history of donning wings in the past in Marvel Comics, including in her 2018-2019 solo series.
During the ten-issue run, Shuri became expected to lead and protect Wakanda following the disappearance of T'Challa, and she donned these wings on her own Black Panther suit as she went on the hunt for her missing brother.
Saunders acknowledged the difficulty behind making this post which comes from a time when the crew "knew very little of the story" for Black Panther 2, so the art ended up being inspired by an Ironheart comic run:
"This is a tough one to post. This was my earliest image for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, painted months before Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing. At the time we knew very little of the story for BP2 (which was destined to change in any case) so I was going off of the Wakandan run of the Ironheart comic book for tone and context."
Focusing on Riri Williams' Iron Man-inspired suit, the artist pointed out the similarities it ended up having to the Mark II suit that ended up appearing in the final battle of Wakanda Forever:
"As you can see, the seeds of the final Mk2 suit were already there in the copper coloring, overall heart theme, the profile of the mask, and even the introduction of braid-like vanes on the helmet. Here I was going for a much cleaner, skintight suit, however, with an intersecting curve theme, I imagined Riri mathematically optimizing panel breakups for maximum flexibility."
Saunders went on to mention another design he did at the time that featured Riri and Shuri in the early days of their friendship, inspired by the "rocky start" they originally got off to in the comics:
"During that period I did another image pairing Riri and Shuri that everyone loved at the time, but feels jarringly off-tone now. It features the pair standing on a balcony in Wakanda, Riri (in prototype mk1 armor) obliviously taking a selfie with the princess like a wide-eyed tourist while Shuri gives her the grumpy side-eye, a reflection of their rocky start in the comics."
Unfortunately, the designer opted not to share the image for now, but hopes to eventually at a time when "the loss [of Boseman] won't be so raw:"
"Maybe by the time the art book comes out, the loss won’t be so raw and we’ll be able to look back at it as a vision of what might have been in a more innocent time."
Why Letitia Wright's Shuri Could Still Get Wings In The MCU
Clearly, even before Chadwick Boseman's passing pushed Shuri into the spotlight as the next Black Panther, her dynamic with Riri Williams' Ironheart was important to Wakanda Forever. Perhaps they even may have spent more time together on the battlefield while Boseman's T'Challa handled the Namor threat.
These wings were likely integrated into Shuri's latest set of gear in order to facilitate more interaction and scenes between the young genius duo. However, when the decision was made to push Letitia Wright's hero into the Black Panther mantle, they were abandoned in favor of a more traditional suit.
But since they have been featured on Shuri's Black Panther in the past in Marvel Comics, she may well end up with them again down the line. Perhaps this could even come as soon as Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, allowing her to share scenes in the air with Sam Wilson's Captain America while they take on Kang together.
Shuri and Wakanda actually already have a history of developing wings in the MCU after creating Wilson's Captain America suit for him in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. So, one would expect that the new Black Panther may wish to take advantage of this technology for her own heroic activity in the near future.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is playing now in theaters worldwide.