Four months after its box office shattering debut, Black Panther isn’t done breaking ground just yet.
The film’s unquestionable success showed the world not just that black superheroes are bankable entities, but also that black female superheroes can be as well. And Letitia Wright’s performance as King T’Challa’s sister and Wakanda’s go-to technological genius, Shuri, gave people a powerful new role model, too. Now, Wright is acknowledging just how magical Shuri’s sphere of influence has become.
While appearing at MCM Comic-con in London over the weekend, Wright addressed the fact that she is now, technically speaking, a Disney Princess. After a fan brought up the online chatter surrounding such a royal claim, Wright had this to say (via Deadline):
“I was like, ‘what’s this Disney Princess pressure? Do I have to be perfect?’” said Wright. “Then I realized that everyone’s just so geeked about having a different kind of female character in the Marvel universe and the Disney universe. And there’s going to be much, much more – I’m not the only Disney Princess to come to the surface and claim that title.”
As the daughter of Wakanda’s former king, T’Chaka, and sister of T’Challa, Shuri has royal blood a plenty. In fact, in the Marvel universe, when T’Challa sustained critical injuries in battle with Doctor Doom (in Reginald Hudlin’s 2009 Black Panther series), she even took over the Black Panther mantle herself. Wright alluded to this over the weekend when asked if Shuri could step into Wakanda’s leadership role after T’Challa’s unfortunate Infinity War situation. “To be comic-book accurate, yes,” she said.
So there’s no doubt her royal claim is legit.
And with Disney ultimately owning Marvel, that makes Shuri not just a Marvel princess, but a Disney one as well. And while that’s historic, considering the somewhat lacking line of representation in Disney's history, Shuri is not technically the first Disney Princess of African descent; that would be Tiana, from 2009’s The Princess and the Frog.
Still, representation matters, and the honor is not lost on Wright. “I’m so honored, seriously. I grew up on the Disney movies and grew up with the Disney Princesses and they didn’t really look like me. But now, you can go buy action figures and say ‘this is a Disney Princess’ – right on!”
Right on, indeed.