Ryan Coogler's Black Panther is about to debut in theaters on February 16, which means T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is finally going to take center stage as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Wakandan king. That said, we already know that the Black Panther is a mantle, which raises questions about the possibility of a female Black Panther entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as T'Challa's younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Wright addressed this possibility in a recent interview, and while it's not currently a priority, there's "room" for something like that to happen. Wright explained:
We didn't talk about it in terms of the future. It was something I feel he was playing with [trying] to set up, but it didn't happen. Hopefully it does. I'm happy that there's room to allow Shuri to grow. I wanna sit with her a little bit more.
So, despite some early ideas that Ryan Coogler toyed with, there is currently no plan for Shuri or another female character to take on the mantle of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Letitia Wright felt that Coogler laid some necessary groundwork to get a storyline like that off of the ground, but as of right now T'Challa is our one and only Black Panther. A passing of the torch could happen, but it's not guaranteed.
Among all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes, Black Panther feels like one that would be relatively easy to hand off to a female successor. The introduction of the character in Captain America: Civil War made it clear that Black Panther is just a mantle handed down to warriors of royal blood, and that means T'Challa could eventually hand the black mask off to someone else in the future, including his sister.
Letitia Wright's remarks to Variety about turning Shuri into the new Black Panther are not entirely without merit, as far as the comics are concerned. The character has a history of wearing the Vibranium suit in the comics, which means there's precedent in the source material to watch her become the protector of Wakanda if her older brother ever finds himself out of commission.
Then again, there are still plenty of other possible mantles for someone like Shuri to take on, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe presses forward into the future. Chief among these possibilities is the theory raised by some fans that suggesting that Shuri could go on to take the place of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) if the original Iron Man dies or retires in Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers 4. We already think that she will at least be a little involved in the creation of Tony's Infinity War suit, so it wouldn't feel off-base for her to don a suit of her own and become a hero in the vein of Ironheart from the comics.
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Marvel fans and mainstream audiences will get a chance to watch Shuri and the rest of Black Panther's awesome female characters when the film premieres on February 16. From there, the Wakandans will then go on to join the rest of Earth's mightiest heroes when Avengers: Infinity War premieres in theaters on May 4.