Letitia Wright might not currently be quite as recognizable as some of her Black Panther co-stars, but all of that’s about to change for the 23-year-old known for her role in 2015's Urban Hymn: along with her first stint as a promising, potentially pivotal figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Shuri in Black Panther, she also has a key role as Reb in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One; two films that had a major presence at this past weekend's Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR talked to Wright immediately following Marvel Studios’ unveiling of new Black Panther footage Saturday evening at Comic-Con's Hall H, where she revealed the essential character traits of T’Challa’s younger sibling, created by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr and first seen in 2005. And yes, she’s well aware of what fate may hold in the years ahead for Shuri -- who in the comic books adapted the powers and identity of the Black Panther herself.
CBR: What did getting involved in Black Panther mean to you, personally?
Leitita Wright: It meant a lot. It’s a blessing. Just being in this project that’s never been really done before in the Marvel Universe, to just embrace Black Panther, embrace the continent of Africa, you know what I mean? The blessing is just amazing. So yeah, I’m honored to be a part of it.
Give me a little sense of how you, as Shuri, fit in the story.
Princess Shuri is T’Challa’s younger sister. She’s also in charge of all of the technology in Wakanda -- and she creates all of it, she makes all the armor, everything. Everything that’s to do with weaponry, she creates that, and she also works a lot with Vibranium, and she’s been studying it since she was like a child. So she’s just pretty much like a really smart scientist, but there’s a lot more layers to her when you see in the film.
You’ve, I’m sure, done your homework, so you know who she might one day become…
I did my homework. I did my homework!
What was exciting about that prospect, knowing that these Marvel movies just keep going and going, and that actually could come to pass?
It’s just exciting. That’s an exciting part of it. You don’t know which way it’s going to go, because obviously they take from the comic book, add their flavor to it, and then they keep it going. Whatever the future holds is going to be positive anyway, because if they embrace a story like this, you know it’s going to be good.
What’s been the exciting part of working with [Black Panther director] Ryan [Coogler] on a movie of this scale? He’s obviously a great filmmaker, but this is a huge canvas.
It was a blessing to work with Ryan. He treated me just like everybody else. He just gave me the time to express myself and to be free, and to say if I liked something, if I didn’t. So as a filmmaker, he’s like an actor’s director, meaning that he cares. He really cares. He doesn’t just care about the shots and the things he has to get done -- he cares about you as a person. So yeah, I’m very grateful.
Did you get to see a little action in the film as well?
You’ve got to watch the film!
Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Black Panther is scheduled for release on Feb. 16.