Warning: Spoilers ahead for What If…? episode 6.
The MCU proved why Shuri (Letitia Wright) would be the best leader of Wakanda in episode 6 of Marvel’s What If…? In this episode, Tony Stark (Mick Wingert) was never captured in Afghanistan and forced to create the first version of his Iron Man suit to escape, leading to his growth as a character. Instead, he was rescued by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who used Tony’s talents for his own goals. In pursuit of his mission, Killmonger killed Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and, eventually, Tony himself.
After gaining the trust of influential American leaders, Killmonger found his way to Wakanda where he was welcomed with open arms by everyone except for Shuri. She was wary of this outsider from the start. Nothing that he did could endear himself to her despite King T’Chaka (John Kani) treating him like family. Shuri ultimately met with Pepper Potts, who also did not trust his supposed goodwill, to plan how to expose Killmonger’s evil deeds.
Shuri acted like a better ruler than T’Chaka in What If…? by thinking much more logically about the good of her people and not being swayed by guilt from past mistakes. T’Chaka clearly regretted the falling out he had with his brother that led to his and his son’s exile from Wakanda. Part of the reason Killmonger was welcomed so readily was because of this regret. T’Chaka wanted to honor the blood tie to the son of his departed brother and let that cloud his judgment. By attempting to right past wrongs, he compromised the safety of everyone in Wakanda.
Tragically, T’Chaka’s kindness led him to bestow the title and power of the Black Panther to his son’s killer. Sometimes a ruler needs to be a little ruthless in order to make the best choices for their people, which T’Chaka was not strong enough to do. Shuri repeatedly brought up doubts that he swiftly ignored, and everyone else just followed his lead. Shuri’s more logical search for the truth into who Killmonger was and what he wanted would have made her a much better leader.
Of course, it is much easier for Shuri to think rationally about a situation she was not involved in. Her uncle was exiled before her time, so she would have had no personal feelings of guilt about it. Yet, Shuri has often proved that she will not believe something until witnessing clear proof of it first, such as when T’Challa supposedly died in Black Panther. T’Chaka had no real reason to mistrust Killmonger, but that does not mean he should have trusted so easily. Shuri would not have granted the uninvited visitor so much freedom so quickly if she were in charge, regardless of past guilt.
Shuri would have made a better ruler for Wakanda in episode 6 of What If…? She acted much wiser than the king despite being much younger in both age and experience. The MCU showed that no matter what version of events transpire, Shuri remains logical in her choices as a good leader must.
Next: How Shuri’s New MCU Story Sets Up Iron Man’s Replacement
Marvel’s What If…? airs every Wednesday on Disney+.