Shuri’s character underwent drastic changes in Black Panther: Wakanda forever. From chief scientist to protector of Wakandans. Shuri proved her determination and brilliant mind by donning the title of Black Panther herself. She was a daughter to two rulers of Wakanda and a sister to one. She was next in the succession line, but at the end of the movie, we don’t see Shuri following the royal steps of her ancestors. So what happened at the end of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? Is Shuri the Queen of Wakanda?
Shuri is not the queen at the end of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Despite having the best claim, she decided to hold onto her title of princess of Wakanda. The crown and the title of Wakanda’s monarch passed to M’Baku while Shuri retreated to Haiti to get to know her nephew T’Challa II better and to make peace with her past.
Now that we’ve answered the main question, it’s time to analyze Wakanda’s succession rituals in a bit more depth. If you want to know why Shuri is not the queen and why the title passed onto M’Baku, stay with us and keep reading!
Who was T’Challa’s successor?
Black Panther: Wakanda forever started with a combination of severely unfortunate things. We learn that T’Challa passed away from an undisclosed disease. It was something Shuri thought she would manage to cure with the synthetic Heart-Shaped herb, but she ultimately failed to do so, at least failed to do it on time. Wakanda is left without its ruler for a time and also without a Heart-Shaped herb that, in a sense, played a great contribution toward choosing the new ruler. The title of Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda were closely linked as the Heart-Shaped herb played an important role in the process. With Heart-Shaped herb gone, the possibility for someone to inherit the mantle of Black Panther was gone as well.
Wakandan society, despite being highly traditional, still quickly adapted to the new circumstances. After T’Challa’s passing, it made sense for his mother, Queen Ramonda, to be named his successor, thus keeping the title in the family. Shuri retained her position as the princess of Wakanda, although she rarely had an interest in the title. She spent most of her days guilt-ridden, trying to further improve the life of Wakandans. Until the fateful day when Wakanda lost Queen Ramonda.
Queen Ramonda died trying to protect Riri Williams, a brilliant girl who invented a vibranium-detecting device. This put a target on her back, at least when Namor of Talokan is concerned. With Ramonda’s death, Wakanda was left without a ruler and on the brink of war with a powerful undersea nation ruled by a seemingly isolationist-oriented Namor.
Namor was just the first step toward the downfall of Wakanda, but in a sense, he was also the first step toward the redemption of Shuri, who bore the burden of her brother’s death because she couldn’t make it to save him in time. He gave her a sample of vibranium-enriched herb, and with it, Shuri managed to synthesize Heart-Shaped her she so desperately needed to save her people.
Shuri managed to synthesize the heart-shaped herb and transport herself to the ancestral plane where she was granted Black Panther’s powers, and with it, she also inherited the title of Queen of Wakanda, at least according to the ancient traditions of her people.
Why did Shuri decline to be the queen of Wakanda?
Even though she was a Black Panther and managed to fend off, for a time, the danger that Talokan presented Shuri never ascended the throne of Wakanda. Instead, that honor was seemingly passed to M’Baku, and people are cheering him at the end of the movie while Shuri makes her way to Haiti to bond with her nephew and T’Challa’s son, T’Challa II.
To understand her motivation, we need to understand that Shuri never did anything the traditional way. Even though Wakanda is an extremely forward-minded and egalitarian society, there were still some people, primarily M’Baku and his tribe, who figured out how much Shuri avoided tradition if it was possible. Shuri was a scientist, first and foremost. She knew little about being a diplomat and ruling a country. She was brilliant and had a terrible drive to help her people, but she felt like her talents were best used to create something tangibly better for her people.
This perfectly sums up her decision to take on the habit of Black Panther and protect her people but leave the ruling to M’Baku, who will honor the tradition, thus keeping Wakanda in perfect balance.
Shuri also needed to make her peace with the past and distance herself from the throne that took her father, brother, and ultimately her mother from her.