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Why Shuri Sees Killmonger (Not T'Challa) In Wakanda Forever's Ancestral Plane

Warning: Contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

"Wakanda Forever" was always anticipated to be full of surprises given the mass act of plate-spinning involved in the follow-up to "Black Panther." In between rising nations, a new hero to don the Black Panther title, and a villain officiating the arrival of a whole new species of super-beings, "Wakanda Forever" managed to keep quiet about one particular appearance no one saw coming. It was a welcome surprise in a twisted way, but one that will make a drastic impact on the future of the MCU forever.

The shock appearance came when Shuri (Letitia Wright) made her journey over to the Ancestral Plane like her brother T'Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) did before her. Even before she made the trip, chances are that you felt the same air of uncertainty in the theatre at the prospect that Shuri's venture to the afterlife would end with her speaking, in some way, with the late T'Challa. Instead, she was greeted by someone else entirely. As bittersweet as it was, this encounter made for a gut-wrenching and rather foreboding meeting that we've not seen since Darth Vader told Luke to search his feelings. The only difference here is that Shuri may actually end up turning to the Dark Side.

Killmonger gets in Shuri's head in Wakanda Forever

It was the reunion no one wanted (but secretly did) when Shuri got from her estranged cousin, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Shocked to be greeted by her old foe, he explained to the young royal why he was there. Erik's presence was due to Shuri's hunger for revenge against Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and her temptation to take action those before her wouldn't have considered. These very same tactics led Killmonger back to Wakanda for his attempt at the throne in the first place. Criticizing her family, Erik highlights "and yet here you stand" to his cousin pushing her to take the road less traveled by her brother in the past that could be dark if she continued.

While it could've merely been a warning for Shuri, it was a vision that lingered when she returned from the Ancestral Plane, clearly still rattled and refusing to tell Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) about it. There was also the added element that when it came to taking the Black Panther helmet to use for her suit, she picked up one more akin to Killmonger's rather than her brother's respected and beloved guise. While it may be seen by the uninformed that she was merely choosing a color scheme, matching it up with Erik's golden streak hinted that his influence still lingered and may continue to do so whenever the Black Panther returns.

Could Killmonger return in Shuri's future adventures as the new Black Panther?

When it comes to the future of Shuri's time as the new Black Panther, Killmonger's impact on his cousin might be far from over. While the film saw her forgoing her original declaration to Killmonger that she would exact revenge and kill Namor for drowning her mother (Angela Bassett), offering for Namor to yield instead, the new protector not revealing who she saw after taking the heart-shaped herb may have lasting effects that may manifest in future films. It could also make Shuri a far more complex and exciting hero.

Imagine if the news gets out that it was Killmonger she saw in her passing, not her mother or brother. How would that go down with the neighboring tribes of Wakanda that their protector had gained her new power by speaking with the enemy? Also, having already returned for a surprise cameo, could there be a chance that any future "Black Panther" installment could see Killmonger's spirit haunting Shuri in the world of the living when times get hard? It would give us more time to spend with Michael B. Jordan's beloved nasty guy and apply a dark layer to our complicated new hero. For Wakandans, death is not the end, and Shuri's time as the new Black Panther is only just beginning.