In a November 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever co-writer Joe Robert Cole (who also wrote the first film with director Ryan Coogler) discussed the process of writing the screenplay after Chadwick Boseman’s death – or rather, rewrite, as the duo had completed their first first draft (pitting T’Challa against Namor) in 2020 before Boseman died. And during the discussion, Cole revealed what other characters they are considering for the next Black Panther before settling on Shuri.
Cole said, “We played around with the ideas and tried to extrapolate where the story is going and what’s the most impactful choice – what’s the best journey?” And where are you going after the movie in terms of those characters.” He then named both M’Baku (Winston Duke) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) as names they had thoroughly considered as choices for Black Panther, both of which they felt would have lent themselves to compelling narratives.
However, they found that Shuri was the most natural choice. “In the comics, Shuri is Black Panther and there’s a natural organic, I think that’s the best way to put it when she becomes Panther,” explained Cole. “But you kick the air with all sorts of ideas. And you just want to make the best decision and do what’s best for the story.”