Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is almost here and will finally reveal the identity of the new Black Panther, though there is already an abundance of evidence that it is Shuri under Black Panther suit. Since the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman in 2020, speculation has continued over the future of Black Panther as a character in the MCU. While there were calls for T’Challa to be recast to continue the character’s legacy, Marvel Studios opted not to recast out of respect for Boseman, leading talk to turn to who in the MCU will take T’Challa’s place as Wakanda’s protector.
As the marketing for the MCU’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever began ramping up, Marvel Studios provided fans with plenty of evidence that it is indeed Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s sister, who will be taking the mantle in the MCU. From merchandising designs to posters that provide plenty of hints, to footage shown in trailers and TV spots, it is all but officially confirmed that Shuri is the Black Panther in Wakanda Forever. All that being said, here is every piece of evidence explored in detail behind this seeming confirmation of the new Black Panther’s identity.
The first official look at Black Panther: Wakanda Forever came at SDCC 2022, where Marvel Studios released the first teaser trailer for the film. This trailer contains only one shot of the new Black Panther at the very end of the trailer. Despite not being overwhelmingly clear who is beneath the suit, the first bit of evidence of Shuri’s confrontation with Namor and Talocan came from the new Black Panther having a more traditionally feminine physique. In the trailer’s final shot, the new Black Panther bore their claws with a wounded Namor in the background. The more feminine physique of Black Panther led many to speculate that either Nakia (Lupita Nyong;o) or Shuri was in the suit, with the latter being more likely due to a similar storyline in Marvel Comics.
One of the first pieces of solid evidence behind Shuri being the Black Panther came shortly before the second trailer for the film was released in October 2022. As is par for the course with big franchise releases, merchandising companies are given time to design their various products based on the film ahead of release. This allows for plenty of unofficial first looks to be given both before and after trailers have been released. This was the case with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with the first trailer (hinting at more MCU mutants through Namor), only showing the lower half of the new Black Panther, meaning merchandising gave the first proper look at the new suit. It was through a Funko Pop figure, that the first piece of evidence came for it being specifically Shuri taking on the new role in the sequel.
The figure shows the Black Panther, simply named « Black Panther » on the box, that tracks with the first glimpses shown in Wakanda Forever’s SDCC trailer. The suit is black, with gold linings, but with one big reveal that points towards Shuri as Black Panther. The difference is that the figure showed the Black Panther’s face, before being shown in the film’s second trailer, revealing an adornment of white spots leading out from the eyes and forehead. This pattern is identical to the pattern on Shuri’s face in her original character poster for 2018’s Black Panther in the MCU’s Phase 3, providing the first bit of real evidence that Shuri is the one under the mask.
When Black Panther: Wakanda Forever tickets went on sale, Marvel Studios released the film’s second trailer as well as the official poster for the film. This poster provided another major piece of evidence that Shuri is taking on T’Challa’s mantle, as opposed to a recast of Chadwick Boseman, for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The poster shows the main players of the film; Shuri, Okoye, M’Baku, Nakia, and Queen Ramonda, offset with the people from Talocan: Namor, Attuma, and Namora. Front and center on the poster are Shuri herself, with the black and gold Black Panther suit looming behind her. This, along with the eye adornments from the Funko figure being present, all but confirm Shuri as the next Black Panther given the connotations of Shuri « wearing » the suit in the poster.
Along with the official Black Panther: Wakanda Forever poster came the film’s second trailer. This trailer, like the first, is scarce on Black Panther content but shows a better look at the new suit as well as more evidence of Shuri as the new Black Panther. Again, the trailer’s final shot is the only one to showcase Black Panther. This time though, the shot is much easier to see with the Black Panther dropping from the sky before landing and allowing a full look at the suit. This is accompanied by a line from Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda: « Show them who we are ». This line could be in reference to Shuri showing who the Wakandan royal family is, with the Black Panther mantle passing from T’Challa to his sister. Also, like the first trailer, the Black Panther’s physique is much more slender than T’Challa’s, again pointing toward Shuri when accompanied by the other evidence.
The most recent trailer, or TV spot, for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, provides arguably the biggest piece of evidence yet that Shuri is Black Panther. As the beginning of the MCU’s Phase 5 nears, marketing is ramping up for Phase 4’s final film. The most recent trailer then showcases the clearest look of the new Black Panther yet. At the end of the trailer, the Black Panther is shown flipping off a boat, followed by a shot that is basically confirmation Shuri is under the suit. In the shot, Black Panther is wearing the same gauntlets that Shuri wore in the MCU’s Phase 3. In these films, Shuri’s gauntlets fired energy blasts and were shaped like panthers. The new Black Panther is shown wearing these while the energy blasts shoot out using the same CGI effect as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. This, when combined with the other evidence above and Shuri’s run as Black Panther in the comics, all but confirm her as the next Black Panther in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.