Of all the supporting characters who popped on screen in Black Panther, Letitia Wright’s Shuri shone particularly brightly. Not only was T’Challa’s tech-genius sister the Black Panther equivalent of Q – delivering that all-important Vibranium super-suit among many other gadgets – but she provided believable sibling bickering (“WHAT ARE THOSE!”), much-needed back-up in the action stakes, and emotional counsel to her big brother as he took on the weighty mantle of King Of Wakanda. It was a joyful dynamic cultivated between Wright and the late Chadwick Boseman. But Boseman’s passing prior to production on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever puts Shuri, and the woman who plays her, in a different space for the sequel.
With director Ryan Coogler and the rest of the Black Panther cast returning, Wakanda Forever not only continues the story of the technologically-advanced African nation and its people, but also pays tribute to Boseman’s – and T’Challa’s – legacy. Wright’s own experiences while making the movie mirrored that of her character. “Shuri’s journey has allowed me to grieve, to cry, to laugh, and to gain strength that I never thought I could ever have,” she tells Empire. “Trials and tribulations make you who you are. You either fold or you get up and go again. I feel like Shuri kept looking at me every day, asking me if I was gonna fold or go again. And I just kept going until healing started to happen for me.”
Without T’Challa, the question remains of who will step into the Black Panther suit this time, and there are many potential candidates – Lupita Nyong’o’s ultra-capable spy Nakia, Danai Gurira’s warrior leader Okoye, maybe even Winston Duke’s Jabari tribe leader M’Baku. Or could it be Shuri herself, who has taken on the role in some comic book runs? “That’s a tricky question to answer,” says Wright. It is, however, a notion she once discussed a few years ago. “I had a chat about it with Ryan and Chad when we were making Black Panther, and we touched on it briefly,” she recalls. “When I realised I was playing Shuri, it was something that I really looked forward to.” Whatever happens next, she’ll always be Wakanda’s coolest princess.
Read Empire’s full world-exclusive Black Panther: Wakanda Forever feature – with the complete story on a film with all the odds stacked against it, featuring never-before-seen images and brand new interviews with director Ryan Coogler, Marvel boss Kevin Feige, stars Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Dominique Thorne, Tenoch Huerta, and more – in the November 2022 issue, on sale Thursday 29 September. Pre-order a copy online here now. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is due in UK cinemas from 11 November.