Shuri concept art

A king is only as strong as those who stand beside him. Luckily for Black Panther, he has one of the coolest girls in the world to keep him on his toes: his little sister, Shuri. Actress Letitia Wright wonderfully brought the Wakandan princess to life in Ryan Coogler’s record-breaking hit Black Panther, and now one of the film’s artists has shared some Shuri concept art that shows off a few early designs for the tech-savvy genius.

Karla Ortiz, who also worked on the art for Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange, took to Twitter to share some fun pieces of Shuri concept art:

In a follow-up tweet, Ortiz revealed that “early on, [Shuri’s] panther gauntlets where supposed to be giant, and in super early concepts, almost rock-like. While it would have been fun, I do prefer the sleeker, hi-tech gauntlets in the movie!”

I feel sheepish admitting this, but I didn’t even notice that Shuri’s gauntlets in the movie were shaped like panthers. I just thought they were cool-looking blasters. So while Ortiz prefers the sleeker models we saw in the film, I would have preferred the giant gauntlets from that concept art because I definitely would have picked up on the designs that way. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe everyone else was totally aware that those gauntlets are panther-shaped and I’m the only one who looks like an idiot right now!

Wright’s performance as Shuri was so great that I had to specifically ask writer/director Ryan Coogler about her character when I spoke with him about the film. Here’s what he said:

“Going through the process of writing the film and working with my co-writer, Joe Robert Cole, I thought Shuri would be a cool Q. It’d be really interesting seeing a young African teenager who’s manipulated this element in ways that nobody else could and who’s confident and able to have her own space. In our minds, Wakanda’s a place that looks at age differently than other places. It’s not a place where, because you’re young, you don’t get a chance to lead, and because you’re old, we don’t cast you aside. It’s looking at time and age more in an African sense.

I also thought that as we were writing, I realized that the more stuff we can put in this relationship between T’Challa and his sister, the better off we’ll be because that’s another thing that makes him so unique. There are no superheroes that I can think of that have a little sister who they love dearly and who can bring out the best in them but also keep them down to Earth, you know what I mean? Their relationship is built on love, and out of that, so many other things grew. She became so much more than just a Q.”

Black Panther is still in theaters, and it’s likely to cross the billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office this weekend. You can check out more of Karla Ortiz’s Black Panther concept art on her Twitter page, and I’ll drop a few select entries in right here:

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