Black Panther 2 composer Ludwig Göransson breaks down how Shuri’s emotional arc shapes the score for the new MCU movie. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Shuri will be forced to deal with her brother’s death, the legacy of the Black Panther, and a new threat to her home in the form of Namor. Shuri’s bond with T’Challa was one of the highlights of Black Panther, so losing her brother will be a major blow. Compounded with the fact that she and her mother are the only remaining members of the royal family adds even more weight to her shoulder.
The music of Black Panther has become some of the most iconic in the MCU. The score needed to not only evolve in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, however, but also honor the loss of Chadwick Boseman and T’Challa. During Screen Rant’s exclusive interview with Göransson, the composer explained how Shuri’s journey to becoming a leader in her grief shapes the new movie’s score.
What you hear in the whole first movie is basically driven by the talking drum. [It] kind of became the sound that was T’Challa’s sound, and it was the Black Panther sound. In this movie, we had to spend a lot of time on how we’re placing that sound. How would we place that sound in a way that feels right? And also, what do we do with the Black Panther theme? How are we going to place that?
We’re following the story of a lot of people, but Shuri is the center of the story. She’s dealing with this, and she’s a completely different character than she is in the first movie. She’s been going through a lot. She’s a grown woman now, so she’s dealing with a lot of grief and pushing it down.
Her melody and her theme is played and sung by Georgia Smith. It’s in the vocals in the beginning, so you hear that vocal line develop as Shuri’s story arc continues. And when she finally realizes what type of leader she’s going to be and who she is, that melody goes from intimate vocals to this huge bombastic, distorted synthesizer. It just hits you in your face, and then somehow that theme morphs and goes into symbiosis with the Panther theme, and they work together and they’re connected. That journey was very important to get right musically.”
The Black Panther theme is intrinsically tied to T’Challa, but Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will see the mantle of Black Panther passed on to a new hero. Though it is not officially confirmed who will take T’Challa’s place, Göransson teases Shuri stepping into a leadership role as her new theme reaches its final form and connects with the Black Panther theme. Shuri’s emotional journey and development as a leader are at the heart of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which lends itself well to honoring the legacy of Boseman and T’Challa as she becomes a hero in her own right.
Shuri’s journey will be difficult as she and the nation as a whole mourn the loss of T’Challa. While for Shuri this loss is personal, she will need to contend with the larger ramifications. Without T’Challa, Wakanda has lost its king and protector. This perceived weakness could introduce new threats, with Namor and Talokan challenging Wakanda and perhaps other nations taking advantage in an attempt to access Wakanda’s protected resources.
The Black Panther mantle is heavy, with both Shuri’s father and brother wearing it before their deaths. Shuri will likely need to confront this legacy as she eventually rises to lead Wakanda. Shuri is a highly intelligent scientist and inventor while also being fiercely protective of her home, but leadership takes more than that. Shuri will need to gain wisdom to lead Wakanda, especially as it faces new threats like Namor. Shuri’s emotional arc and evolution to becoming the hero her nation needs seem to be at the heart of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with the score culminating in the merging of two iconic MCU themes.