Among the many questions posed by the end of Avengers: Infinity War, what happens next for those left behind is definitely the most intriguing. Aside from counting the cost of the deaths of their fellow heroes and trying to undo it, there's the question of the roles they still have to play elsewhere.
Those considerations range in size, of course. Thor still has to find and rehome the Asgardians, Tony Stark has a company to run (and a family to lead) and Steve Rogers has a government to possibly hide from (unless they've mellowed with the death of half of existence...)
But it's Wakanda where the biggest shockwaves should be felt. Okoye and M'Baku were seen to survive, but T'Challa was killed, leaving the former without a king to defend and the latter possibly with a leadership claim to the country (dependant on who else survived). Without T'Challa, the country could be in turmoil (especially as they've just kicked off an outreach programme), and they need a strong leader.
There's an obvious choice for that leader too, as long as the fact that her fate at the snap being left off-screen means she survived. Because T'Challa's sister Shuri can easily succeed him as the Queen of the Wakanda. And even better, the sass-talking tech genius could also inherit the Black Panther role from her brother.
Sure, she'll have to get a new suit, since his evaporated, but she's the one who made his armours in the first place, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. And there's lots of precedent as Shuri became the Black Panther in the comics.
On top of that, Ryan Coogler actually considered setting up Shuri as a second Black Panther, and while it didn't come off, some official concept art was released thanks to the film's art book to show what she'd have looked like.
Coogler also spoke in Cannes this week (with Variety) and declared his interest in directing a movie where the Black Panther is played by a woman.
So, could it happen in Avengers 4?
Wakanda needs stability and a continuation of T'Challa's bloodline on the throne makes sense. Shuri is also the best positioned to take over T'Challa's legacy as an outreaching monarch and her ability with technology could supplant the need to use the heart-shaped herb to turn her into a super-soldier type (since there's none of it left).
She's clearly not the same sort of hero as her brother, but she's a lot more like Tony Stark who may have been physically fit when he took on the Iron Man role, but was in no way a superhero on his own. Like him, Shuri could use her genius to make her a valuable hero and that would be entirely satisfying.
Her country needs her with at least half of their protection gone and Shuri's futurism could be a rare positive at a time of great turmoil and trauma. And that's not to mention the fact that she wasn't in Infinity War nearly enough and as a fan favourite deserves more screen-time in the sequel.
Plus, T'Challa's inevitable return doesn't necessarily mean we couldn't still have Shuri as a Panther too. In the comics, when she replaces her brother, he eventually comes back and the pair coexist as Panthers, protecting Wakanda together. Given how well she went down in the first film, the idea of that being a key part of Black Panther 2 is hugely exciting.
So, let's see it happen.