Warning: Spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ahead.
The Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever, had a huge void to fill, both in-film and in real life with the passing of lead actor Chadwick Boseman but perhaps one silver lining that came along with the myriad script changes that were necessitated by the loss of Boseman/T’Challa was the fact that in T’Challa’s stead, his surrounding female co-cast was able to step to the forefront. This includes not only Letitia Wright’s Shuri, but Angela Bassett (Queen Ramonda), Danai Gurira (Okoye) and Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), who combined to make Wakanda Forever a record-breaking film in a category for which it wouldn’t have been previously considered.
As of this writing, the numbers from Box Office Mojo have the Black Panther sequel’s domestic gross close to $435 million, which means Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the biggest female-led superhero film ever in the US, beating out Captain Marvel ($426.8 million), Wonder Woman ($412.8 million) and Black Widow ($183.65 million).
Although Shuri’s role in Wakanda Forever was naturally expanded in the sequel with the absence of T’Challa, Letitia Wright revealed in a recent Empire podcast that Shuri assuming the mantle of the Black Panther was always a move that was planned, with Marvel Studios originally wanting both T’Challa and Shuri to assume the Black Panther mantle simultaneously.
“It was bittersweet. Shuri was always gonna do it,” Wright said in the podcast when asked about the emotions she felt putting on the Black Panther suit. “But it was gonna be done in a different way where her brother was gonna be alongside her, really explore that, like the comic books, the ways that T’Challa and Shuri would be Black Panther alongside each other and try to figure out how to defend their nation.”
Wright also touched upon the pride she felt of being “the first superhero that’s a black woman in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film” as well as opening the door for future actresses to find the same success in the MCU.
“But now we’ve come to a full circle of the film being out, I’m just really proud of myself. As a black woman, being the first superhero that’s a black woman in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film to do those numbers, history’s being made as we sit here, and I’m a part of it, and that feels surreal. And that door has just been opened for another black woman to go and do that so I’m just proud, and I know my brother would be really proud of me too.”
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