Spoilers ahead. Black Panther has officially arrived, and Marvel fans leaving the theater are all thinking the exact same thing: we need to talk about Shuri and Bucky. The duo both appear in the second Black Panther post-credits scene, and it immediately sparked a budding new ship, with some fans walking away convinced that Bucky and Shuri will get together in future films. However, not all Black Panther fans are on board with the idea of a 3--something reformed Hydra assassin dating a teenage Wakandan princess, even if she is a genius.
In the Black Panther post-credits scene, Bucky is seen waking up in Wakanda. It's clear, based on his hair and outfit, that he's been out of his frozen state for a while. He emerges from his hut to meet Shuri, who is waiting for him outside. She asks him how he's feeling and then tells him to follow her because he has a lot more to learn. It's obvious from their interaction that they've developed a bond. At the very least, they trust each other, which is a feat for the Winter Soldier. And, as with any great pop culture ship, all it took was one instance of eye contact, and a new group of fans were born: Shuri and Bucky shippers (Shucky? Buri? an official ship name is TBD).
There's no denying that there's a bond between Shuri and Bucky. Fans who have read the official "Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #1" comic know that Shuri already knows every intimate detail of Bucky's life. As detailed in the comic, via IGN, Shuri was tasked with curing Bucky of his Hydra brainwashing, a mission that involved making a digital map of his brain and shifting through his memories to try to erase the brainwashing without changing his personality. In other words, she's seen the most intimate corners of his mind. And, honestly, there have been MCU ships built on less (Sharon and Captain America, for example). But, while some fans are eager for Black Panther breakout Shuri to expand her horizons with Bucky, others are quick to shoot down the ship as inappropriate.
Shuri's age is never explicitly stated in Black Panther, but producer Nate Moore confirmed that she was 16 in an interview with ScreenRant. Meanwhile, Bucky is definitely far from a teenager. Though his real age is difficult to make out thanks to Hydra experiments, it's believed that Bucky is either 28 — the age he was when he died in WWII — or in his early 30s. And, as some fans have pointed out, shipping a teenage child with a grown man isn't exactly a good, or even acceptable, thing.
These fans have a point. At 16, Shuri is far from the age of consent, and Bucky is twice her age. (He's also a mass murderer who can become a mindless killer at the drop of a trigger word, but that's a whole other issue.) Even though Shuri is played by an adult actor, her character is still a child. "From the beginning, he [director Ryan Coogler] was just like, we're starting off with her being a kid, a teenager, and she has to be light and love," said actor Leticia Wright in an interview with Den of Geek. Shuri should most certainly not be in a relationship with a grown man, and we shouldn't be rooting for them to get together.
That said, a Shuri and Bucky pairing wouldn't be the first MCU relationship to raise eyebrows. Scarlet Witch and Vision are set to be a couple in Avengers: Infinity War, modeling their relationship in the comics, despite her being just a young woman (remember, she was a teenager when he met her in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Moreover, assuming Shuri and Bucky get together far in a future, as long as it's a consensual relationship between two adults, there shouldn't be any problem.
There's no denying that Shuri and Bucky would make a fun couple — when she's older. Just imagine, Shuri getting Bucky to smile while fixing up his tech and fitting him with a new prosthetic arm. If that's not a true Marvel romance, then I don't know what is.