Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, does Shuri work as the protagonist?

As has already been seen in the Black Panther Wakanda Forever reviewRyan Coogler’s film is a great tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman. The actor who played T’Challa for years has left a huge void and Marvel Studios does not seem to have hesitated to honor him with a title focused on memory, guilt and rebirth. Among the most discussed characters before and after the release of the second chapter there is no doubt Shuri, one of the bulwarks of Wakanda from the first film who here will have to carry a weight perhaps heavier than he can bear on his shoulders. But Does the young Wakandan work without T’Challa? There will be spoilers in the article, both on some specific scenes (including the post credit) and on plot implications.

Crushed by the memory

Shuri’s character and her journey in the film – especially in relation to the first chapter – suffer from a problem that often afflicts many products of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: told in words are much better than facts. The development of the princess is conceptually correct and with few flaws.

What is missing, however, is what should support it. Because a good (or at least, not negative) character is powerless in front of the lack of a film and a writing that can enhance it. And in this regard it is precisely the figure of T’Challa and the absence of him to be cross and delight for the staging of Shuri. If on the one hand, in fact, the maturity and growth of his sister try to come out thanks to the untimely death of the better known Black Panther, on the other hand it is the desire to pay a large part of the work a great homage to Chadwick Boseman (choice understandable) to crush every character that gravitated around the hero. Precisely for this, just to give a clarifying example, the Namor of Tenoch Huerta stands out more than the Wakandian forces, because he is released from T’Challa and free to be developed without too many constraints.

Because whenever you try to explore the psychological depths of the Wakandan characters, especially the princess, it is always in relation to her brother, showing a precise will not to give “value” to individuals which are set aside to favor an overview of the people and the family. And from the choice to focus the chapter on memory, although partially acceptable, it leads to the loss of the individual protagonists – even Queen Ramonda and Nakia, perhaps even more sketchy – who find air thanks to the intense interpretations of Leticia Wright, Angela Bassett And Lupita Nyong’o.

The light of the panther

There is a scene in this sequel – which at times looks more like a Black Panther 1.5 than a 2 – that could give an idea of ​​what has been said.

When the ruler of Talokan takes Shuri to discover the deep sea and her civilization hidden from the eyes of the rest of the world, the young woman opens her eyes again: it is there that we see the Shuri known in the past, the character who has always wanted to discover something new, who put, mistakenly as many remember her, the experiments and passions, his safe place, in front of the family (and it will reverberate as a sense of guilt, having spent the last moments of his brother’s life looking for a cure rather than being next to him). Shuri has always been described as extremely pragmatic, disinclined to traditions and spiritual beliefs. Ramonda will underline how death is not the end, rather a reconciliation with the ancestors, a speech that Shuri’s mind cannot accept. And during his brother’s glorious funeral he will be unable to shed a tear, showing how perhaps he is incapable of accepting something he had not foreseen, against which calculations and science had been powerless.

Everything collapses and the certainties he had begin to falter in a difficult mourning process. But before a hidden world and the possibilities that she can offer, thanks to the immense quantities of buried vibranium, her eyes shine like never before at that moment and her spirit of carefree researcher seems to be at her ease and at peace, even if momentarily. A scene in which the character works very well also because, even if only for a few minutes, he is partially free from his brother. As already mentioned, it’s not so much Shuri that doesn’t work without T’Challa how much instead a celebration that is right in theory but which, in practice, turns back on itself too many times, marginalizing the rest and leaving it at a basic level of detail.

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In fact, the late brother always comes back into question, given the structure of the title, especially once the Black Panther armor is worn: the Shuri who goes into battle is for too many different reasons and difficult to judge in just about twenty minutes staged (T’Challa as Black Panther has enjoyed more than one film to be enhanced and perfected). However, what emerges is a renewed panther, in some ways for the better, which certainly loses a modicum of instinct and “wildness” that Boseman evoked in its movements, but which in addition to strength and agility, thanks to the intellectual qualities of the protagonist, she is able to dialogue more actively with technologycertainly not a traditional but overall successful weapon – see in this regard the choices in the clash with Namor.

The conquest of wisdom and the future

Shuri’s journey is interesting by virtue of its being imperfect. After taking the herb in the shape of a heart and unexpectedly meeting Killmonger, it is evident how the Wakandian princess is clearly different from her brother. Anger had already taken over from the Queen’s death but that meeting marked her deeply. Shuri is no longer the bubbly young woman with a smile printed on her face (as M’Baku will remember when he tells her that too many things have been taken away from her to still be considered a child), too many responsibilities fall on her and the limit is crossed : where T’Challa was indulgent and noble-hearted, his sister seems blinded by vengeancewhich, as in No Way Home, makes even the best-intentioned protagonists falter.

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And it is stimulating to see the attempt to build what will be the savior at the end of the film, and the conquest of the wisdom of a young woman, going through a phase that recalls that of a villain, as we have seen happen, for example, in Scarlet Witch : a crisis in the philosophy of the hero which can potentially lead to creating new paths in the Marvel Universe, if explored in a less elementary way and better digging through the inner conflicts. Shuri though she doesn’t want to be Black Panther or queen, she just wants to protect a land that has never felt so close, even at the cost of assuming the identity of the previously unthinkable panther. Precisely for these reasons it would not be strange to see his character away from the scenes for a while.

Maybe it’s already time to pass the baton back to faces like M’Baku, a warrior who could, at least so it seems, be able to take over the reins of the kingdom. Or like a new T’Challa: the post-credit scene and Nakia’s reveal bring new questions for the future of Wakanda, with the possibility of seeing a little prince one day become king and new Black Panther. And given the stormy past between Leticia Wright and Marvel Studios and at controversies related to the actress, Shuri’s step back might not be so unthinkable. She will certainly not be among the best characters in the MCU and it is undeniable that, on balance, she does not work that much but, given all the limitations of writing a second chapter that is not totally successfulthe new Black Panther could have been much worse.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, does Shuri work as the protagonist?