'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' Stars a Brainy Duo Who Show Black Girls the Power of STEM

Letitia Wright and newcomer 'Ironheart' Riri Williams are role models in this powerful sequel.

A scene from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


On November 11th we’ll get to journey back to the world's most technologically advanced nation. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be screening in U.S. theaters everywhere and while established Marvel fans have been highly anticipating the film's release, it may also appeal to a new group of fans.  Though Shuri is arguably the smartest character in the MCU, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever sees her joined by a new brainiac in 19-year-old MIT student and “super genius” Riri Williams, aka Ironheart. 

C’mon Black Girl Magic! 

Falling in Love With Shuri Again

Many movie lovers fell in love with Shuri in the first Black Panther movie. 

A teenager herself, Shuri is not only the princess of Wakanda but the lead scientist in her nation. She oversees all of their technological advancements and is responsible for creating her brother T’Challa’s Black Panther suit in that first movie.

“We meet her in the first film and she is that ray of sunshine,” Letitia Wright said of her character during a press conference for Wakanda Forever. “She’s so clothed and protected in royalty and love. And proud of her big brother taking the step, following in his father’s legacy. And she just wants to create. And I love Shuri in the first one because there was no limit to her, as well.”

Who is Ironheart?

Though equally as (if not more) brilliant than Shuri, younger fans can relate to Williams as she is just a “regular girl” who happens to be a genius. She does not come from a family of royalty and she definitely has not lived a protected life in Chicago. "I love the fact that she is just fully herself," actress Domonique Thorne said in an interview. "She's definitely not the typical or traditional superhero. She's very much Riri Williams, the 19-year-old student first, and then there's this whole Ironheart business that she has to figure out."

An Important Connection

When Shuri is joined by Riri Williams in Wakanda Forever, their chemistry on screen is undeniable and their intellect is unmatched. Trailers have shown Riri in Wakanda so I think it’s safe and spoiler-free to say we can expect them to create some magic in Shuri’s lab. “She is incredible,” Wright told journalists. “Riri is so much fun and I just love the fact that we get a beautiful opportunity to see another black, young girl just be a genius and just be at school just doing her thing and inspire so many. So that was a cool connection.”

According to the National Science Foundation, Black women make up about 6.5% of the United States’ population but only 2% of the STEM workforce. Many Black girls never develop an interest in STEM because of perceptions, both internal and external, that the field is not available to them. 

Seeing Shuri and Riri Williams do their thing in Black Panther is not only an exciting dynamic for Marvel comic readers but an inspiration to Black girls and women. We may not have Wakandan tech in the real world, but an interest in STEM can take our girls far! Make sure you don’t leave them out as you head to see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever when it releases in U.S. theaters everywhere on November 11th, 2022.

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