In Marvel’s Black Panther, the titular superhero isn’t even the best character in the movie. Instead, the film is bolstered by great supporting heroes.
But after Black Panther, some fans have an interesting theory about where one particular Wakandan’s story is headed. Here’s a look at the surprising future our favorite Black Panther character might have in the MCU.
Shuri is the standout character in Black Panther
The character who really stands out the most in Black Panther isn’t T’Challa but rather Shuri. Played by 24-year-old Letitia Wright, Shuri is T’Challa’s hilarious sister who provides many of the film’s best laughs.
But she is far from mere comic relief. Instead, Shuri is an absolute genius, responsible for all of the technology in Wakanda, including Black Panther’s suit. Shuri is so smart that, as we find out in the post-credits scene, she’s even able to cure Bucky Barnes of his Hydra brainwashing.
By the end of the film, Wakanda has decided to share its technology with the outside world. This is a huge deal, and so now, Shuri’s technology will impact the rest of the Marvel universe and not just Wakanda.
Next: What Shuri thinks about another prominent character in the MCU.
She’s a genius scientist who compares herself to Tony Stark
When we see a genius scientist in the MCU who is constantly making cool gadgets and who perfects a superhero suit, we instantly think of Tony Stark and begin comparing the two. While Tony’s name never comes up in the movie Black Panther, it does in an official tie-in comic.
In Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #1, which is MCU canon, there’s a scene where Shuri mentions Tony Stark and brags that she’s way smarter than him. While talking about her new advancements in artificial intelligence, Shuri says that what she came up with is “so much simpler than that silly shortcut Tony Stark took in creating Ultron. Of course, that’s ’cause I’m smarter than him.”
She’s not just being a cocky kid. She probably is legitimately smarter than Tony, or at the very least, she’s capable of much more than him. Tony will likely be impressed when he meets Shuri, hopefully in Avengers 4.
Next: The future of Shuri has to do with this popular theory about the next two Avengers movies.
Fans theorize that Tony Stark will die in Avengers 4
Meanwhile, there are a lot of theories that Tony Stark himself will die in Avengers 4. First of all, Marvel has repeatedly suggested that these next two Avengers movies will have some big deaths. Kevin Feige has said that the films will serve as a finale to the entire MCU, and in a Vanity Fair profile, while all the Avengers actors were hanging out for a photoshoot, Chris Hemsworth observed, “We’re all aware that this is going to be the last time we get to hang out like this.”
If any Avenger is to die, Iron Man would make the most sense. For one, Marvel wants this to be the end of an era and for the next phase of the Marvel movies to feel totally different. What better way is there to do that than by killing off the man who started it all, and the man is who effectively the leader of the Avengers?
Plus Robert Downey Jr. is the oldest of all the Avengers actors, and he has repeatedly suggested that he doesn’t want to overstay his welcome in these movies.
Next: If Tony dies, this might happen to Shuri.
If Tony dies, Shuri could take over for him
If Tony Stark dies, it’s likely that someone else will take up the mantle of Iron Man. A hero dying or retiring only for a different character to take on the suit and name is something that happens all the time in the comics, and it has specifically happened with Iron Man.
So fans think that Shuri is the one who will take over for Tony Stark. That would happen sometime after Avengers 4; it might not be right away, and it could be after a Black Panther movie trilogy has been completed. But regardless of how, the idea is that at some point, Shuri will don that armor and serve the same role that Iron Man currently fills in the MCU. It would make sense, since they’re both witty technology geniuses who make their own weapons, and some of Shuri’s technology is even a bit reminiscent of Tony’s.
In the comics, Shuri never becomes Iron Man. But there is some comic book evidence to support the theory.
Next: Why this theory makes a lot of sense.
In the comics, a black teen named Riri Williams becomes an Iron Man-like hero
The theory of Shuri taking over for Iron Man is not completely random; there’s precedence for it in the comics. Back in 2016, the Marvel comics introduced a character named Riri Williams, a black teenager. She’s a bit of a technology genius herself; her creator says that she is smarter than Tony Stark.
While attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she makes a suit of armor like Iron Man’s. Soon, she uses this for good, thwarting two criminals. Tony Stark hears about Ruri and goes to meet her, giving her his blessing to be a superhero. Later, Riri continues Tony Stark’s legacy when he slips into a coma during the events of Civil War II.
During this time, she takes on the mantle of Ironheart. She wears a suit of armor that looks a lot like Tony’s, and she is even in possession of a digital copy of Tony Stark’s mind. Meanwhile, Victor Von Doom takes on the actual Iron Man name.
Next: Marvel changes its characters in the movies all the time.
Could Shuri be getting Riri’s role in the story?
Now, the theory among fans is that Shuri is going to get Riri’s role in the story. Obviously, the beats would be way different. But the basic idea of this young technology genius taking over for Iron Man would be kept the same; in this version, though, Iron Man would die rather than just go into a coma.
Movies in the MCU are constantly changing details from the comics and shifting characters’ roles around. For example, in the comics, Ego the Living Planet isn’t Peter Quill’s dad, but he is in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s implied that Mary Jane’s role is being given to a new character named Michelle. The Vision of the comics has nothing to do with J.A.R.V.I.S., unlike in the movies. And most recently, in Black Panther, Marvel seemed to combine the characters of Erik Killmonger and Hunter into one.
This is all to say that it would be just like Marvel to adapt the Ironheart arc from the comics while changing the details and giving the story to a different character.
Next: Why not everyone is on board with this idea.
Fans have mixed feelings about this idea
Among Marvel fans, this idea is getting a mixed reaction. On the one hand, everyone already loves Shuri, and it would be great to see more of her. It would also be great for the Avengers to have a black female superhero on the team.
On the other hand, why can’t we have Shuri and Riri? Some fans don’t like the idea of just taking the storyline of one young black female character and giving it to another, rather than just allowing both characters to exist. The two characters are different enough that it wouldn’t be a problem to have both of them in the movies. Also, Shuri becoming Iron Man could potentially mean she is less involved in the solo Black Panther movies, which would be an issue.
Either way, we’ll get a better sense of what Marvel is planning with Shuri in Avengers 4, which opens in May 2019.
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