Out of nowhere, Marvel Studios kicked the week off with a brand new trailer for the upcoming Black Panther, and it didn’t disappoint. But while there's plenty to love about the new trailer, one of the most important (and potentially exciting) parts comes in the middle when T’Challa is reunited with his sister Shuri.
After a brief (and instantly repeatable) Wakandan handshake, the two gaze at a pair of Panther armors. Both are very distinct from each other—the one on the left is significantly taller and bulkier, along with lacking the chevrons on the chest that T’Challa’s outfit had in Captain America: Civil War. Given that Shuri’s in the same room as her brother, we're hoping it means Shuri will be donning the Panther armor of her own during the film.
While T’Challa’s existence goes back over 50 years, Shuri has only been around in the comics for a little over a decade. As a child, she always wanted the mantle of the Black Panther, and even challenged her uncle S’yan for it when he still held the title, unaware that he’d already given it up to her brother. It’s only after she kills someone that T’Challa decides to train her should she ever have to take the throne. That actually winds up happening after Namor, the Sub-Mariner, and other members of the a villainous group known as the Cabal attack T’Challa and leave him in a coma, forcing his then-wife Storm (of X-Men fame) to nominate Shuri as the new Panther.
Unfortunately, the heart-shaped herb that grants a Panther their powers rejected Shuri because of her jealousy. It’s only after she takes the identity and outfit and resurrects her comatose brother that she truly gains the powers of the Panther. Since then, the two have shared the title of Black Panther, working together to defeat Wakanda’s enemies over the years while T’Challa still held the title of king.
That changed with Namor’s attack on Wakanda during 2012's Avengers vs. X-Men, where Shuri declared war on Atlantis and banished her brother from the Golden City. She held the throne until 2014’s "Time Runs Out," wherein she sacrifices herself in battle so T’Challa can successfully escape the city.
Despite her death, T’Challa has refused to let his sister go, thus the first arc of his recent solo comic saw him try to revive her body. Her soul, meanwhile, had already transcended to the Wakandan spiritual plan of Djalia. Though T’Challa and Manifold were eventually able to bring her soul back to the physical plane, she technically no longer has the Black Panther mantle. She does, however, have the ability to turn into a flock of birds (or a large bird) and turn her body into a flexible stone-like material.
Given that Black Panther is our first look into Wakanda and Shuri, it’s safe to say that most of that won’t be in the film itself. But she could still wear the armor for herself; Wakanda is a nation that’s technologically superior to the rest of the modern world, so it’s safe to reason that she could easily change the unused armor to fit her body without much work. She’s said to have intelligence on par with Tony Stark--or rather, he’s got intelligence on par with her--and is a renowned scientist, having spent her life making new inventions for the nation’s Vibranium.
As seen in the first trailer and on the newest poster, Shuri rocking a pair of Vibranium gauntlets that no doubt pack a punch. But that probably won’t be enough to take down Erik Kilmonger, who’s wearing some Black Panther-esque armor of his own, and has the same abilities as T’Challa, thanks to consuming a heart-shaped herb himself.
Marvel has been pretty good about teasing the heroic fates for supporting characters such as Hope Pym and James Rhodes, and Ant-Man in particular was given flack for how it technically had the Wasp in the film but didn’t include her for contrived reasons. The studio has definitely taken those criticisms to heart, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if it was rectifying this by giving Shuri the chance to shine with a suit of her own. Shuri’s confirmed for Avengers: Infinity War next year, so here’s hoping that when we see her, she’s utilizing a Panther armor of her own in the fight against Thanos’ forces.