It’s not too often that Black women are represented by characters that are intelligent, confident, instinctually sharp and far from the derivative ABW (“Angry Black Woman”) stereotype. With the Black Panther character Shuri, a phenomenal performance by actress Letitia Wright, we get all that; a woman that embodies all those qualities while simultaneously inspiring rising and existing generations of Black women, both on and off-camera.
Before you continue reading, please note that there are partial *SPOILERS* ahead…
Shuri’s confidence in her own genius allows for acute awareness that, often times, makes her the smartest person in the room. In Avengers: Infinity War, the first line she said on screen questioned the intelligence of Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).
Let’s unpack that a bit.
In figuring out how Ultron and Vision were built, she questioned two of the smartest minds in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How does she challenge them? Shuri looks at the sum total as it relates to one of their greatest works, later telling Bruce Banner that, despite his elaborate plan, she knows a simpler way to achieve their goal. To that, Dr. Banner gave one answer: “We didn’t think of that.”
How the MCU handles Shuri on the big screen is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the character’s true potential.
“Possessing a formidable mind and a warrior’s body, Shuri has served her homeland of Wakanda as Queen, Black Panther, and now as the Aja-Adanna.”
Her power set as Griot is very different from her time as a Black Panther in the comics. Very mystical in nature and differentiates her from T'Challa and the previous Black Panthers. #BlackPanther pic.twitter.com/P9vaCMhIGG
— Klaws of Wakanda (@klawsofwakanda) January 28, 2018
According to ComicBook.com, Letitia Wright has expressed her interest in a possible Black Panther spinoff movie featuring Shuri and Spider-Man. And why not?! We’ve seen the dynamic of Tony Stark and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, so it would be nice to see these two genius-level characters tackle onscreen challenges as a dynamic duo. It seems that comic book movies continue to take the leap lightyears ahead when it comes to the subject of diversity onscreen – a world where Black women are seen as more than sex symbols or smart-ass sidekicks.
In fact, Shuri is seen as the go-to problem solver in the MCU. Wright’s wit and posture on screen gives credibility and a weight that says, “She can do it!” As an innovator and inventor, Shuri is given charge of the advancements of the fictional metal and resource that is known as Vibranium. As M’Baku pointed out in Black Panther, “Our technological advancements are being overseen by a child.” In her breakout role, Wright plays 16-year-old Shuri. This means that a 16 year old Black girl is responsible for having the medical skills to save Agent Ross‘ life, fix Bucky’s (aka Winter Soldier) arm and mental deprogramming, as well as design the nanotech suit that T’Challa has used in two movies to date.
im crying pls protect letitia wright at all costs pic.twitter.com/DlsSIdQHJS
— gabi ✧ iw spoilers (@harleivy) April 19, 2018
To quote Charlamagne Tha God, “Rumble, young queen, rumble!” [Editor’s note: My niece jumped from her seat watching Shuri and the Dora Milage dominate ‘Black Panther’]. The expectation is no different in this installment of the Marvel popular franchise. She is a character Black parents can add to a list of positive role models in film/TV. With the importance of Black girls in STEM being more necessary than ever, Shuri may play a vital role of inspiring the next generation of Black girls who rock like Katherine Johnson.
Letitia Wright did a heck of a job bringing Shuri to life, so let’s put some respect on her name!
& you showing off, but it’s alrightttt ? pic.twitter.com/3YHyYUEkmJ
— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) April 11, 2018