Fans, and Shuri herself, were shocked to see Killmonger greet the new Black Panther in the Ancestral Plane in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But by looking back into a moment in the comics where she was deemed unworthy of taking on the mantle, audiences see a connection between the rage and confidence she shares with Killmonger.
Shuri is the younger sister of T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, and takes on the role of Black Panther in the film when he passes away from an unnamed illness. T’Challa, when he visited the Ancestral Plane, got the opportunity to speak with his father and his ancestors about their decisions about Wakanda. Fans expected Shuri to see someone of equal importance to her, like possibly her mother, Queen Romanda, who had passed earlier in the film. However, she is greeted by Eric Killmonger, her cousin who had destroyed all of their heart shaped herb in the first Black Panther film. The moment reflects Shuri’s complicated past with her superhero identity.
Shuri Almost Wasn’t Allowed To Be Black Panther in Marvel Comics
In the comics, those wishing to become the Black Panther have to go about a different process than the one we see in the film. In Black Panther #4 (by Reginald Hudlin, Ken Lashley, Paul Neary, Paul Mounts, and VC’s Cory Petit), we see Shuri appear before the Panther God Bast, and plead her case to be the next Black Panther. This occurs while her brother is severely injured by an attack by Namor, after his refusal to join the newly formed Cabal.
Despite the fact she passes the physical trial, Shuri is denied the right to become Black Panther by Bast. He insists it’s because Shuri states her achievements and training, and how she’s been preparing for this moment her whole life instead of appearing before him graciously. Shuri eventually takes the insight to heart and evaluates the flaws within herself enough to earn the title, but that self-confidence is something reflected in her MCU version, however it’s not as much of an issue.
The MCU Still Made Shuri Feel Unworthy of Becoming Black Panther
In the MCU, Bast doesn’t exist — and Shuri’s confidence adds a lot to her personality and likeability. So Marvel took an interesting approach and made Shuri feel disconnected from the identity of the Black Panther (like how she was humbled in the comics) by having Killmonger be the one that visits her in the Ancestral Plane. Rather than feel betrayed by her god, Shuri felt this more as a betrayal from her family.
This change makes sense because Shuri had a different support system in the comics than she does at this point in the movie. Shuri finally earns the mantle of Black Panther by defeating Morlun in Black Panther #6 (written by Reginald Hudlin and Ken Lashley), with the support of her mother Queen Ramonda and sister-in-law Storm. And while she does, her brother T’Challa returns to consciousness. In the MCU, Queen Ramonda dies in Namor’s attack on Wakanda, so Shuri has lost her mother and brother back to back. For her to then not see either one in the Ancestral Plane, the audience feels the same weight as readers do when they see Bast reject her.
Killmonger’s Death Is A Warning for Shuri
Shuri and Killmonger’s storylines both center around anger and vengeance, but ultimately the two have very different outcomes. Just like the fate his character receives in Black Panther #38 (written by Reginald Hudlin and Francis Portela), Killmonger’s need for vegenacnes costs him his life in the end of the first movie. And in the comics, Killmonger’s son witnesses his father’s death and promises to kill the Black Panther one day, continuing the anger and hate into the next generation.
Shuri, on the other hand, is stopped before she gets to that point. In the MCU, Shuri is eventually visited by a form of her mother (whether it’s from the Ancestral Plane or just a hallucination, the movie leaves it purposely ambiguous) in her final fight with Namor. It pushes Shuri to make the right decision by not killing Namor, and preventing eternal war between the Talokan and Wakanda. Shuri’s storyline in both the comics and the MCU serves as an example that there is not much separating heroes from becoming villains like Killmonger. Often times, it’s one crucial decision that keeps them from turning dark. And as evident by the end credits of the film, the new Black Panther has a lot coming her way that will test her character.