Before even seeing the film I knew I was going to showcase one of the Black Panther women in March, but ended up totally spoiled for choice. Nakia, Oyoko, Ramonda – all so regal, so intelligent, so fierce. Any one of them could have easily filled this space. Even Ayo, whose brief appearance here and in Civil War nearly stole the show.
But having watched the movie, my heart was stolen by Shuri, the spunky princess and tech-genius who equips her brother with all the gadgets he needs to be the Black Panther.
Perhaps her most important line is: "just because something works doesn't mean it can't be improved", as it easily doubles as a motto for all of Wakanda. It's perfect as it is: a beautiful, self-sufficient, culturally rich utopia, but there's room for improvement. And it's Shuri, in her youth, curiosity, intellect and enthusiasm, that embodies the opportunity for Wakanda to share its advancements with the countries beyond its borders, in pursuit of a better world for everyone.
It's a theme that follows her right to the post-credits scene: as she stands by the lakeside with Bucky he tells her he feels "good", but her response is that he still has much more to learn. Like Wakanda, Shuri is always growing, her mind expanding, her ideas multiplying, her reach furthering. What a great character.
(And let's not forget how she tricks her brother into attacking a kinetically-charged suit so she can record him flying across the room).