Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Marvel Had An Easy Time Choosing The MCU's New Black Panther

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," the last theatrical feature film in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is finally in theaters. The movie follows up on over five years of shared universe storytelling that have taken place since the first "Black Panther," but it also has a much weightier responsibility: carrying forward the legacy of the Black Panther in the wake of actor Chadwick Boseman's untimely death. The characters of "Wakanda Forever" mirror the real-life cast in their grief for the loss of a once-in-a-generation talent.

Without Boseman to anchor the film, "Wakanda Forever" finds a new lead character in Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. Rather than recast T'Challa as some had suggested, it is she who takes up the mantle of Black Panther in the film's 11th hour. From outside the production, it may seem like director Ryan Coogler and the Marvel higher-ups had a tough choice on their hands, but according to its top producer, asking Wright to be the new face of the franchise was a no-brainer.

Speaking to Marvel, "Wakanda Forever" producer Nate Moore explained that Letitia Wright's Shuri had been the obvious successor to the title of Black Panther from the get-go. "[Shuri] just felt like the most organic storytelling choice," Moore said, explaining that the decision was based on Wright's proven screen presence and dedication to the role. "We had a performer that we knew could carry that if she agreed to do it. We didn't really explore other options that thoroughly because this just felt like the right thing to do."

Letitia Wright took the title of Black Panther with the utmost seriousness

According to Moore, Letitia Wright was caught off-guard when asked whether she'd want Shuri to take up the Black Panther mantle but agreed to take on the responsibility because of her dedication to the franchise. "Letitia wanted and wants to do right by this franchise," he said. "She understood A, what it means to people generally, and B, I think what this franchise meant to Chadwick, as an artist, and as a performer." The producer further explained that asking Wright to be the new Panther was a big ask, but that once Wright embraced the opportunity, she committed fully to it. "She was game for it and has never blanched from that responsibility as a storyteller," Moore concluded.

Marvel also spoke to "Wakanda Forever" director Ryan Coogler about Shuri's new superpowers. The filmmaker echoed many of Moore's thoughts, adding that Shuri was the perfect choice for the role of Black Panther because she was the character most affected by T'Challa's in-universe death. "As we realized what the [theme] was and when you talk about T'Challa passing, who would be most affected by that? It became clear that Shuri would be the nexus of our movie," Coogler explained.

Over the course of "Wakanda Forever," Shuri is tormented by the death of her brother and balks at the idea of a new Black Panther. Ultimately, she recreates the heart-shaped herb that grants Black Panther powers and takes up the title only after she has grown into the responsibility that comes with it. Coogler noted, "She always imagined, my brother will be the Black Panther and then when he's too old to be a Black Panther, I'll be too old to be a Black Panther ... We thought that would [make her] the most interesting character to actually do it."