Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Black Panther mantle has officially shifted. With T’Challa dying off-screen to reflect the tragic real-life loss of his actor Chadwick Boseman, his sister Shuri ends Black Panther: Wakanda Forever having assumed the heroic role. This suggests that Shuri could take over the kind of story beats that would have otherwise been afforded to T’Challa going forward, allowing her to play some very important roles.
Notably, this may include Avengers: Secret Wars, which is currently slated to be the conclusion of the Multiverse Saga encompassing Phases Four, Five, and Six of the MCU. If the Secret Wars story being adapted is the 2015 miniseries by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić, then Black Panther has a very important part in upcoming events — and Shuri could easily assume that role going forward.
What Was Black Panther’s Storyline in Secret Wars?
Leading up to 2015’s Secret Wars, New Avengers focused on Black Panther’s new iteration of the Illuminati. Facing the potential end of the multiverse thanks to Incursions, T’Challa worked with Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Beast, Black Bolt, Namor, and Captain America to try and find a solution. Their efforts forced them to take increasingly dark paths — leading the group to exorcise the morally rigid Captain America and set the stage for an eventual superhero civil war. Black Panther’s animosity with Namor also led to increasing blows against one another, building until Black Panther left Namor to die on a doomed world.
In Secret Wars, Black Panther was among the handful of survivors of Earth-616 when an Incursion wiped out the universe. Landing on Battleworld, Black Panther and Namor found themselves paired up again when the heroes were scattered across the patchwork planet. Eventually making their way to Doctor Strange’s secret island, Black Panther ends up wielding the Infinity Gauntlet as a tool against Doctor Doom — and with Namor’s help, even utilizes his position as “King of the Dead” to gain control over the hordes of Marvel Zombies contained behind the Shield. Taking part in the assault on Doom, Namor is quickly killed in combat, and Black Panther goes one-on-one with the villain. Although Black Panther eventually loses the fight, he ultimately buys Mister Fantastic enough time to find the Molecule Man and get the final power boost needed to stop Doom, save the day, and remake the multiverse.
How Shuri Could Take T’Challa’s Place in Secret Wars
With T’Challa officially dead in the MCU, Shuri has taken over the mantle of the Black Panther (even if she’s left her throne behind for the time being). As such, she’s quietly perfectly positioned to take over many of T’Challa’s storylines from the comics if they make the shift to the big screen, and that includes T’Challa’s role in Secret Wars. Shuri’s intellect makes her a natural fit for any adaptation of the Incursions Saga, easily capable of taking Black Panther’s place in the group as an inventor and leader. Questions about her morality and limits — which were raised in Wakanda Forever during her confrontation with Killmonger’s spirit — could easily play into her wrestling with the grim acts the Incursion Saga calls for, similar to T’Challa’s role in the original story.
Shuri’s tricky relationship with Namor from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever could easily set the stage for their relationship to further develop in the lead-up to Secret Wars, allowing their tensions to wax and wane as the events of Phase Five and Phase Six play out. Her intellect could even make her crucial in rebuilding the Infinity Gauntlet, allowing her the chance to wield the weapon as her brother did in the original comic. If the MCU is indeed hurtling toward the Incursions Saga for its next overarching story, then Shuri could easily take over the role occupied by T’Challa in the comics to become one of the event’s most vital players.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently playing in theaters