OpEd: Should Shuri Become Black Panther?

in Marvel

The news of Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected passing has shaken the Marvel fandom and the world around it. Tears have been shed and testimonies written to honour the life of this great man. Many have also spoken about the future of the Black Panther franchise. Should it continue without Boseman? Is making Letita Wright’s Shuri Black Panther the best answer?

Re-casting Boseman is, in my opinion, unthinkable and highly disrespectful. Having the younger sister of the Black Panther take up the mantle is the most fitting way to continue T’Challa and Boseman’s legacy in a appropriate way.

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Shuri is Black Panther’s closest aid

Princess Shuri Black Panther Barbie Doll
Credit: Marvel

After his dazzling appearance in Captain America: Civil War, we catch up with T’Challa in his home of Wakanda during the events of Black Panther. Here we meet Shuri, his genius sister and the Wakandan princess. She’s essentially the MCU’s answer to James Bond’s Q and is a force to be reckoned with from the get go.

During the final battle against (then) King Erik Killmonger, Princess Shuri battles side by side with T’Challa and even holds her own against the villain. She proves herself an honest person and a powerful warrior and even returns in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, to provide vital refuge to Vision and the other avengers.

She has a more contemporary approach to culture that would put an interesting spin on the Black Panther character. She is likely the smartest avenger and quite possibly the smartest person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, period. Her weapon arsenal is vast and she’s known for using two powerful gauntlets as her main method of attack, holding her own against Killmonger and the forces of Thanos himself.

Basically, if there’s anyone who makes sense as the next Black Panther, it’s Shuri.

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Making Shuri Black Panther is the respectful thing to do

Shuri Black Panther

It is unlikely that Black Panther 2 will be cancelled, even in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s passing. The film not only has serious financial implications, but it is more importantly a pillar of diversity and representation and offers one of the few black lead heroes that black people everywhere can look up to and see themselves in.

While the film may very well be pushed back, in the event that it goes ahead the most appropriate course of action is to cast Wright as Shuri, grieving over a passed T’Challa.

Recasting T’Challa should not be an option. This isn’t a Terrence Howard or Edward Norton situation; this is a man’s life. A man who has had a significant impact on the black community and is rightly mourned as a hero.

If Black Panther 2 is to go ahead, it must acknowledge the passing of Boseman in-universe with the loss of T’Challa as well. Casting a strong black woman in one of the most prominent superhero roles is the perfect way to honour what Boseman stood for.

Of course heroes can be admired by people of all races, but giving a female black role model her own movie is an essential step towards the kind of true representation that not even the Marvel Universe has achieved yet. Every young girl or boy should be able to see themselves in the face of a Marvel movie and right now black women are excluded in this category.

Princess Shuri could change all that while also honouring the legacy of one of the bravest and most influential comic book characters of all time.

Related: Final Tweet from Chadwick Boseman’s Account Breaks Records

Marvel comics have already done it

Credit: Marvel Comics

If you still need convincing, then look no further than the Black Panther and Shuri comics. While the MCU is known to take its own spin on things, at least you can justify the change to anyone who disagrees by pointing to the source material.

Shuri‘s first appearance as Black Panther was in August 2009 in Black Panther Vol 5 #5. She nobly took up the mantle after her brother suffered injuries that meant he was unable to fight. Shuri was tested by the Panther God via the heart shaped herb and found suitable to become the new Black Panther before she defeats the evil villain Morlun. She has also battled other notable Marvel universe enemies like Namor, Klaw, and Doctor Doom.

This is of course, just one person’s opinion.

For me, a Shuri Black Panther movie is the only way to respectfully continue the franchise and honour Boseman’s legacy as T’Challa. I just hope Marvel and Disney feel the same way.

Related: ABC To Air News Special: ‘Chadwick Boseman – A Tribute for a King’

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. 

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