Black Panther: Wakanda Forever officially anoints Shuri as the heir apparent to the late Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. It’s a fitting choice, and the film does an exemplary job of mourning the star of the first film and charting the path forward for the Black Panther films. Its glowing reception and strong box office numbers suggest that fans are ready to embrace Shuri as the new face of the hero, even as she, and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, properly mourn the old one.
It sets her on a very similar path to another teen hero of the MCU: Peter Parker, who not only arrived in the franchise around the same time, but followed a remarkably similar arc to Shuri’s, particularly after wakandan forever. In fact, there is actually a fair amount of fanfiction covering a hypothetical friendship/romance between the two. And considering how important Spider-Man is to Marvel, the parallels with Shuri speak volumes about how confident the MCU is in her. It’s a shame the two characters haven’t met yet.
Shuri and Peter Parker went from sidekick kids to tragic superheroes
Spider-Man broke a cardinal rule of comics when he first appeared in amazing fantasy #15 (Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Stan Goldberg and Artie Simek). Teenagers weren’t supposed to be heroes: they were relegated to sidekicks of the Dick Grayson variety. Spider-Man changed all that, and his status as a high school student gave him a lot of problems that weren’t solved by beating up villains. The MCU version of him honors that by starting out as a de facto sidekick, with Tony Stark acting as his sometimes reluctant mentor, slowly evolving into the independent hero he eventually becomes.
Naturally, that comes with a heavy dose of tragedy: starting with Tony’s death, which closely follows the emotional arc of Peter’s Uncle Ben (largely absent from the MCU). It continues with the death of Aunt May in Spider-Man: No Way Home and culminates in everyone he ever loved losing their memories of him at the end of that movie. And he has to do all of that while he refrains from taking revenge on The Green Goblin. Only then, armed with the same sense of tragedy that Uncle Ben had in Incredible Fantasy #15 – could become a hero in his own right.
Black Panther he takes that to heart in his introduction of Shuri, who starts out just a few years older than Peter. Although she is essentially an adult, overseeing a major technological development as part of her royal duties, she retains a youthful sense of playfulness and fun. This comes up in her interactions with T’Challa, who she clearly loves to tease, as well as her mother. And she’s definitely a sidekick, as evidenced by her status as Black Panther’s Q Division in the first movie. That changes in wakandan forever in the same way that Pedro’s life changes in No Way Home. He has to deal not only with the death of T’Challa, but also with the death of his mother Ramonda while also putting aside his personal emotional needs for the good of his people. She concludes the film with no family, like Peter, and yet totally committed to her new life as a superhero.
Why Shuri and Peter Parker would be great friends in the MCU
Also, both Shuri and Peter were victims of The Snap at the end of Avengers: infinity war, which keeps their ages comparable while giving both of them the unique perspective that comes from experiencing the time jump. They are both scientific geniuses: Shuri is smarter, but Peter is one of the few people in the MCU who could keep up with him, and both have had unique experiences that the other would find fascinating (Shuri has been to the underwater kingdom of Talokan, Peter to outer space.). And both have suffered tremendous personal losses in no way home Y wakandan foreverthey must endure while tending to greater responsibilities.
That gives them a colossal amount in common, and in each, the other can find a friend to lean on when needed. How and if that will happen remains to be seen, but it makes both that bit more interesting simply because the possibility exists. It’s a big part of why the MCU works so well: when two characters who have never seen each other on screen can suddenly have such a natural connection.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently playing in theaters.