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What Shuri's Heart-Shaped Herb Discovery In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Could Mean For The MCU

Contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

The official trailer for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" teased it, and the movie has no problem confirming it: There's a new Black Panther in town, and her name is Shuri (Letitia Wright). However, this is not the playful, happy-go-lucky Shuri fans might remember from "Black Panther." Much like her predecessor and brother T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), she goes through plenty of loss and sorrow to fully embrace her role as Wakanda's protector. Not only does T'Challa himself die unseen in the early stages of the movie, but "Wakanda Forever" antagonist Namor's (Tenoch Huerta) attack ends up killing her mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett).

Shuri starts the movie in full denial of spiritual matters in general and the Black Panther tradition in particular, preferring to focus on science instead. However, Ramonda's death and the impeding threat of Namor's Talokan forces cause her to return to an old project — an artificial recreation of the Heart-Shaped Herb. With the help of her old research, T'Challa's DNA, and a gift from Namor that contains traces of the vibranium-infused plant that turned the Talokan people into water-breathers, Shuri manages to create a version of the plant that gives Black Panthers their powers ... and promptly uses it to acquire said powers.

Up to now, the Heart-Shaped Herb has been treated as a highly unique commodity that was lost forever when Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) destroyed the remaining crops in "Black Panther." Now that Shuri has figured out the way to replicate the precious plant, her Heart-Shaped Herb just might have a huge impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Shuri's Heart-Shaped Herb could be the next Super Soldier Serum

Judging by how the slender Shuri sends a sturdy mannequin flying without even trying — let alone how she manages to go toe-to-toe with a weakened Namor in the finale — her artificial Heart-Shaped Herb is quite comparable to the original, and seems to be at least as potent as the most prominent man-made power-giving substance in the MCU: Abraham Erskine's (Stanley Tucci) Super Soldier Serum, which famously powers Steve "Captain America" Rogers (Chris Evans). 

As it happens, the Super Soldier Serum is a huge thing in the MCU. For decades, scientist after scientist and nation after nation has tried to replicate the effects of Erskine's serum treatment, after the original recipe was lost with Erskine himself. The results of these often dubious experiments have ranged from Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and the Abomination (Tim Roth) to U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell) and the Flag Smashers. 

Imagine what happens when the world eventually finds out that Wakanda is sitting on a substance that can make people at least as powerful as Captain America. This could attract other nations' attention even more than Wakanda's hefty vibranium stash. 

Riri Williams might be key to introducing the new Heart-Shaped Herb to the world

The day the world discovers the existence of Shuri's Heart Shaped Herb could be nearer than you'd think, because there's one person outside Wakanda who already has a very good idea of its existence. Though Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) doesn't witness the entire process of recreating the Heart-Shaped Herb, she's present during Shuri's ingestion ritual. As such, she has a good idea of how the herb must be used, and of the risks involved. What's more, she specifically requests some for herself after seeing its effects on Shuri. 

While that line about wanting to try the herb herself is played out as a joke, "Wakanda Forever" establishes Riri as a super-smart person with a highly inquisitive mind. If her rather obvious gadgeteer genius parallels with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) continue, it would be almost surprising if she didn't end up tinkering with a version of the recipe, or using her connection with Shuri to learn more about the new Heart-Shaped Herb, or perhaps just accidentally revealing its existence to someone. If that happens, or Shuri's new Heart-Shaped Herb recipe gets out of Wakanda in some other way, the MCU could be looking at a whole new generation of super soldiers running around the block.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is now in theaters.