Black Panther concept art reveals Shuri with her own version of the Wakandan armor. The Shuri of the Black Panther movie is very different to the character in the comics; the print of Shuri is a fierce, ferocious warrior in her own right (she even became Black Panther for a while). More recently, she's actually bonded with the spirit and history of Wakanda, embodying the nation's histories and traditions.
In contrast, the MCU version of Shuri is a 16-year-old genius so smart she makes Tony Stark look slow. She's head of the Wakanda Design Group, and as such is personally responsible for many of Wakanda's greatest innovations. The most notable are what actress Letitia Wright calls her "kitten's claws", sonic weapons that Shuri wears when she goes to battle.
The First Designs for Shuri
Marvel's The Art of Black Panther includes a range of alternate designs for Shuri. According to concept artist Constantine Sekeris, they originally tried "something very formfitting, very sci-fi." The bodysuit was essentially a scaled-back Black Panther costume, and in some versions Marvel added Vibranium power-lines.
The kitten's claws went through several versions, too; they were originally actual claws, explaining their name. It was only as Marvel continued to work on them that they decided to go with panther heads, fitting better with the sonic weapons; when the panther-jaws open, Shuri's weapons project powerful energy blasts.
Design-wise, concept artist Karla Ortiz stressed that all the designs took a very different approach to the typical superhero female. "She's a young girl," she pointed out, "so it was very important to not have her be seen in a sexual way. Her body is covered more than what most audiences tend to expect of female characters in super-hero movies."
A Blend Of Science And Tradition
Marvel then tried another approach, experimenting with something a bit more tribal. That look didn't quite work, so concept artists then experimented with an in-between stage. "Design-wise, [she] was a mix between the Black Panther costume and the Dora Milaje," Ortiz explained.
Some of the designs clearly predate Wright's casting for the role, as they really wouldn't suit the actress. In the end, though, the finished version proved to be a seamless blend between science and tradition. "Shuri's costume remained very close to my early takes," Tully Summers observed. "I had a lot of fun 'deconstructing' that look into her ritual version she wears at Warrior Falls."
It's an appropriate design for Shuri. She's Wakanda's chief scientist, but she's also part of the royal family. Although Shuri may mock, in truth she represents the very best of Wakanda; she is a part of its ancient traditions, and yet points to a future of wonders. The final costume honors both parts of Shuri's identity, and as such is the perfect outfit for the latest Marvel Princess. And who knows; maybe she'll eventually become Black Panther after all.