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Every Marvel fan has that one victim of Thanos’s Decimation that they wish had survived. Watching our favorite MCU characters fading away into a cloud of ash was a pretty devastating event, and every time it’s brought up, it feels like a freshly opened wound in our hearts. And just when you thought it was all said and done with the greatest Marvel happening since the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D., there was a new wrinkle added to the already high toll of emotional damages. As it turns out, Shuri -- sister of King T’Challa and tech guru extraordinaire of Wakanda -- was apparently part of the casualties of that fateful day.
While presumed to be alive at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the trailers for Avengers: Endgame hit with the implication that one of our favorite Marvel geniuses was dusted off camera. At first, this was dismissed as one of those shots that the folks in charge love to include, so as to throw off fans trying to guess what’s going to happen in the actual film. But by time the posters for Avengers: Endgame hit, Shuri was a confirmed kill with her visage shown in the same black and white quality all the other fallen heroes took in their posters. Which not only has us mad, it has us questioning why in the hell Avengers: Infinity War would let such a huge death happen off screen.
The princess of Wakanda’s actual fate has always been considered up in the air -- even Angela Bassett herself seemed to think that Shuri, as well as her character Ramonda, had survived the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s a conclusion we previously jumped to as well, as the film wasn’t shy about killing off a mass of characters that occupied both the front and center as well as the supporting rung of the series. Seeing everyone from Bucky Barnes to Groot biting the dust, it didn’t feel like they’d leave that important of a character off of the chopping block in the first half of this two part story. If she had done less to effect the outcome of the story, then maybe not including Shuri would have made sense. But, as we saw in her final recorded moments of activity in Avengers: Infinity War, her importance to the overall plot can’t be overstated.
Shuri’s big move in Avengers: Infinity War was all about the potential solution to save Vision from being dependent on the Soul Stone to live. Her last known location was in her lab in Wakanda, as Shuri was scrambling to finish her work, and it was even theorized that she possibly found a way to save Vision in order to resurrect him, sans the Infinity Stone that gave him life. Of course, Corvus Glaive burst into her lab during what looked like some very crucial stages of that process, and the question of whether or not she succeeded was left as open ended as whether she’d survived or not.
And yet, as we saw T’Challa disappear in front of Okoye during Avengers: Infinity War, we didn’t get such a scene with Shuri. Which is rather interesting, considering that not only is Danai Gurira's character a crucial survivor in Avengers: Endgame’s story, she was also the last person we saw with Shuri as they fought off Corvus Glaive in the Wakandan labs. You’d think those two would want to stick together, not only to up the odds of survival, but also to get Shuri over to her brother, so that the three could mount a mutual defense against Thanos and his goons. Even if she still died, it would have been on camera, she would have gone out fighting, and Okoye would be even more galvanized to carry on the good fight in Avengers: Endgame.
So why didn’t they show both children of Wakanda’s royal bloodline dusting away in Avengers: Infinity War? Well, whether they knew it was happening or not, this could have been Marvel’s own way of building in a trap door in case one particular party couldn’t be involved. Just as surprising as Shuri’s death was the announcement that Avengers: Endgame would include Valkyrie in the roster of heroes that survived The Decimation. So if Tessa Thompson’s schedule wouldn’t allow her to participate, then Letitia Wright might have been asked to come back as Shuri to balance the playing field. But as Valkyrie is now officially spared, someone had to take her place on the other side of the MCU wind, and that unlucky soul was Shuri. It may not be the best reason for omitting the character, but it plays by the rules of The Decimation, and feels like a natural fit.
Even with The Decimation requiring half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe be wiped out, wasn’t there another character that could have disappeared, allowing Shuri to remain? It’s useless at this point, as not only is her character expected to make a return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Avengers: Endgame, she’ll probably be back for further adventures in the Black Panther franchise, which seems like a shoo-in for a Phase 4 release date.
Obviously, the decision was part of a meticulous plan to end The Infinity Saga, and we’re not arguing with that fact. But even with the comfort that comes when thinking of the obvious return of the fallen from Avengers: Infinity War, it still doesn’t sit well that the proper time and space to grieve that character’s death wasn’t given to the audience members who latched onto and/or identified with Shuri at this stage of the game.
Here’s hoping we get some sort of real answers as to why this decision was made when Avengers: Endgame potentially provides closure on these queries and more on April 26th. If you’re looking to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can take a look at what we have so far in our guide for upcoming Marvel release dates, which will be updated as soon as any new information about Phase 4 comes through.