Letitia Wright’s Shuri is a STEM Icon and an Important Disney Princess
The wearable technology in Marvel's Black Panther is epically impressive and totally gorgeous, and it's all thanks to Shuri, Black Panther's sixteen-year-old sister, played by actress Letitia Wright. Princess Shuri is Wakanda's scene-stealing head scientist, an inventor who creates of all of Black Panther's gadgetry—including some of the coolest wearables we've seen on film to date.
The fictional, powerful element vibranium puts the 'super' in Shuri's superhero accouterments, but it's the teen engineer's ingenuity and design that makes the wearables just so awesome and unexpected. Some of Shuri's most interesting wearable tech includes Black Panther's suit, sleek communication devices, and a set of extra-stealthy "sneakers." Shuri also wears her own creations, most notably her sonic cannon gauntlets which feature fierce panther faces that stun in a captivating battle sequence.
Black Panther boasts a ton of other spell-binding technology, too, created by our new favorite Disney Princess—from the secret city's maglev train system to the virtually-piloted vehicles powered by Wakanda's Kimoyo beads (which also form extremely powerful and powerfully useful bracelets).
Beyond being an endlessly charismatic character, Shuri is important for so many reasons. She's a teenage person of color, a female, and is arguably the most intelligent person in the entirety of the Marvel universe—and people are noticing. Shuri's influence is being felt in the real world as Black Panther is inspiring all kinds of STEM outreach. Disney announced that they will fund STEM centers around the country, one of which will be in Oakland, CA, a city that features prominently in the film.
Shuri's influence is being felt not just on the corporate Disney level but by individuals to whom the character means a lot. Marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson coined "The Shuri Effect" in her article for Scientific American to describe this phenomenon. The Shuri Effect is everywhere, as makers of color celebrate the film by creating Black-Panther-inspired goodies of their own and share their DIY instructions with others. For example, Mbadika's mLab released this video which shows how to make the ring blade weapons used by Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia. The video also includes discussion amongst the makers about what the Black Panther movie means to them.
If you're like us and can't wait to see more of Letitia Wright's Shuri, there's speculation that she could wear the Black Panther suit on screen herself. Yes, please! Until then, we can look forward to watching Letitia Wright in the next few months in Ready Player One on March 29 and reprising her role as Princess Shuri in Avengers: Infinity War on April 27. We cannot wait to see what wearable technology Shuri will have up her sleeve in her next Marvel movie.