Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Almost Gave Shuri a Different Costume Before Chadwick Boseman's Death

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now and its story had to necessarily wrap itself around the real-world tragedy of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman's death. To do that, the story of T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) became one of working through grief on the way to taking over the mantle of the Black Panther. As such, Shuri got a Black Panther costume tailored for her, specifically. Newly revealed designs for a different Shuri look in the film provide a glimpse of what the movie might have been had Boseman not passed away, depicting a more joyful Shuri with a different look fighting airborne beside Ironheart, Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) based on their team-ups in the Marvel Comics.

"This is a tough one to post," Marvel Studios artist Phil Saunders writes on Instagram, where he revealed the image. "This was my earliest image for #blackpanther #wakandaforever, painted months before #chadwickboseman's tragic passing. At the time we knew very little of the story for BP2 (which was destined to change in any case) so I was going off of the Wakandan run of the #ironheart comic book for tone and context. As you can see, the seeds of the final Mk2 suit were already there in the copper coloring, overall heart theme, the profile of the mask and even the introduction of braid-like vanes on the helmet."

He continues, "Here I was going for a much cleaner, skintight suit however, with an intersecting curve theme I imagined was Riri mathematically optimizing panel breakups for maximum flexibility. During that period I did another image pairing Riri and Shuri that everyone loved at the time, but feels jarringly off-tone now. It features the pair standing on a balcony in Wakanda, Riri (in prototype mk1 armor) obliviously taking a selfie with the princess like a wide-eyed tourist while Shuri gives her the grumpy side-eye, a reflection of their rocky start in the comics. Maybe by the time the art book comes out the loss won't be so raw and we'll be able to look back at it as a vision of what might have been in a more innocent time."

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has spent five weeks in the top spot at the box office, beginning with a record-setting opening weekend. The film's total has surpassed $409 million domestic and it has earned $767.8 million worldwide. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters. Riri Williams will return in Disney+'s Ironheart series in 2023.