Kerry Washington Was Shuri In A 'Black Panther' Animated Series & Olivia Pope Would Be So Proud
Watching this year's smash hit Black Panther, it's impossible to think of anybody else playing the scene-stealing Shuri. As Black Panther's little sister, Letitia Wright fills Shuri with so much charisma and infections energy, she quickly became a fan favorite. Seriously, if Shuri wasn't in Avengers: Infinity War, it's possible Marvel could have had a riot on their hands. But what fans might not know is that Wright isn't the first actor to play the part. Kerry Washington played Shuri in a Black Panther animated series, and it's the Scandal/Black Panther connection you never knew you needed.
That's right: Olivia Pope is Shuri, which officially makes Washington the most badass woman to ever walk the planet. Way back in 2010, back when the MCU was still just the Iron Man franchise, Marvel Knights Animation produced a six episode Black Panther miniseries that aired on BET. The show followed a different storyline than Black Panther the film, though it still featured T'Challa as the new Black Panther and Klaw as a main villain. And, of course, one constant in the Black Panther world was T'Challa's genius sister. As voiced by Washington, Shuri the teenage scientist appeared in five of the six episodes.
Washington voiced Shuri two years before she became a household name with the hit Scandal, but it's clear that even before she signed on to play Olivia Pope, the actor was interested in work that spoke to current political climates. "There's a real sort of socio-political awareness that the comic has," Washington said in a behind-the-scenes interview at the time. In fact, the first episode of Black Panther opens with the white General Wallace (voiced by Stan Lee himself) calling the people of Wakanda "savages" for declaring a no-fly zone over their country, saying, "What are they gonna do, throw spears at our jets?"
The show also starred Alfre Woodard as Queen Mother, Jill Scott as Storm, and Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther. MCU fans will recognize both Woodard and Hounson. Woodard currently plays Mariah Dillard on Netflix's Luke Cage, and Hounsou played Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy, a character set to appear in Captain Marvel. Which begs the question, when is Washington going to be invited into the Marvel family?
With Scandal ending its seven-season run this year, Washington is about to find herself with a lot more free time. And, an appearance in the upcoming Black Panther sequel would no doubt make fans explode with happiness. Yes, she's executive producing and starring in an adaptation of Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, and, sure, her production company has a lot going on, but, if Sterling K. Brown can juggle being America's sweetheart, filming This Is Us, and appearing in Black Panther, than surely seeing Kerry Washington in Black Panther 2 isn't too much to ask for, right?
Now, there are a few characters Washington could play in the next Black Panther movie, but there are two in particular that could be incredibly interesting, and that's Nightshade and Zenzi. Nightshade and Zenzi are both villains in the comics, and if Black Panther 2 wants to be the sequel Black Panther deserves, then it's going to need a villain to top Killmonger — a tall order considering he's the best MCU villain since Loki. Getting Washington to play a villain in Black Panther 2 would be a great step forward in accomplishing that goal.
As Zenzi, she would have the power to elevate emotions. In the comics, according to SYFY Wire, Zenzi uses her powers to bring up feelings of unrest and doubt in T'Challa, causing an uprising in Wakanda. Nightshade is a bit more of an ambiguous character. sometimes villainous, sometimes ally, Nightshade has played both sides in the comics. She's also a scientist, which could make her a great foe for Shuri. Just imagining former Shuri Washington facing off against current Shuri Wright in a Black Panther sequel is enough to cause goosebumps.
If fan-casting isn't your thing, then instead of hoping to see Washington in a future MCU role, you'll be happy to know that all six episodes of Washington's animated Black Panther series are currently available to watch for free on YouTube.