Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Concept Art Reveals Shuri’s Costume If Chadwick Boseman Hadn’t Passed

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Avengers: Infinity War
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe greatly expanded its scope, thanks to both TV and movie projects. But throughout it all the most hotly anticipated upcoming Marvel movie was Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This is thanks to the massive popularity of the first movie, as well as the real-life emotions tied to late star Chadwick Boseman. And some Black Panther 2 concept art has revealed that Shuri’s costume could have been like if Boseman hadn’t surprisingly passed away.

Ryan Coogler and company had already created a script for Black Panther 2 when Chadwick Boseman died in the summer of 2020. The story was greatly changed as a result, with Wakanda Forever being a meditation on grief that showed Letitia Wright’s Shuri take on the mantle of the Panther. Some original concept art that made its way to Instagram revealed the original plan to change this character for the movie, check it out below:

I mean, how cool is that? While Shuri was seemingly always destined to team-up with Riri Williams aka Ironheart in Black Panther 2, her gear would have been quite different. After all, there would have been no reason for her to become a Panther if Chadwick Boseman’s character T’Challa returned to lead the cast of the sequel. Let’s break down what we’re being shown here.

The above image comes to us from the Instagram of concept designer Phil Saunders. He’s worked on various major blockbusters for Marvel and beyond including Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and The King’s Man. He used his talents to help develop the visual language for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and started doing that work long before shooting would begin. What’s more, Saunders was even working on the Ironheart armor and concepts like that ahead of Chadwick Boseman passing away from colon cancer.

While Ironheart looks fairly similar to her appearance in Black Panther 2, Shuri is rocking a much different look. It looks like she could have gotten her own Vibranium wings in the movie, while retaining her signature gauntlets as her primary weapon. But this never actually came to fruition, although there were major upgrades for other characters like Danai Gurira’s Okoye.

Rather than the wings shown above, Shuri debuted new tech with the Midnight Angel armor, which was eventually used by both Okoye and Michaela Coel’s Aneka. In addition to flight, they were also given superhuman strength and durability. And it should be fascinating to see how the Angels factor into future installments of the MCU. As for the Dora Milaje, they’ve got new leadership in the form of Florence Kasumba’s Ayo. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever continues to make money at the box office, and recently earned two Golden Globe nominations: Best Supporting Actress for Angela Bassett and Best Song for Rihanna’s “Raise Me Up”. The MCU will return to theaters with Ant-Man 3 on February 17th. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your trips to the theater in the New Year. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.