Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo said in a recent Wired video that Shuri, Wakandan princess and scientist extraordinaire, is canonically the smartest person in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Given the fact that in the space of two films — Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War — Shuri redesigned the Black Panther suit, deleted Bucky Barnes’ Hydra programming and was tasked with removing the Mind Stone from Vision’s body, the directors’ statement isn’t much of a surprise. Black Panther producer Nate Moore said in January that that Shuri was the smartest Marvel hero.
Shuri examines Vision after Wanda, Steve, Bruce and Natasha bring him to Wakanda in one particularly memorable Infinity War sequence. She successfully removes the Mind Stone embedded in his forehead, allowing the team to destroy the powerful artifact while keeping Vision alive. As Shuri examines Vision, Bruce explains why they had to attach each of his neurons to the stone non-sequentially. Shuri raises an eyebrow, asks why he and Tony didn’t reprogram the neurons to work collectively, and quips, “I’m sure you did your best.”
Even before Avengers: Infinity War, fans were already making predictions about interactions between Shuri and other MCU geniuses, predicated on the knowledge that she was smarter than literally all of them.
bruce: wow, you are just so smart.— incorrect marvel (@incorrectmarvel) April 29, 2018
shuri: yes, that's something i've been accused of many times.
Shuri’s intelligence and tech prowess has been a staple in MCU fan communities for months. Fans often headcanon (form personal opinions about content that they believe happened off-screen) that Shuri is able to perform tech feats without breaking a sweat. After Bucky Barnes retreated to Wakanda following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Shuri was the one who removed the Hydra coding that caused his behavior as the Winter Soldier.
Eventually, Shuri’s undeniable intelligence became ingrained in MCU fan culture. Her brilliance was referenced in memes, often mentioned to prove Shuri was smarter than even Earth’s mightiest geniuses, like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.
*Shuri @ Tony when they meet*— TSIFTETELI!SEB RISE | mary (@Iaufeystark) May 16, 2018
you thought you were smart pic.twitter.com/9TEnGMEZQR
Some fans worried about how Marvel’s other geniuses would react to Shuri, but most believed that other MCU scientists would celebrate her for her intellect.
"shuri is the smartest person in th mcu," i say into the mic.— kaye, ia bc uni (@sIutbucky) August 15, 2018
the crowd boos. i begin to walk off in shame, when a voice speaks up.
"she’s right," it says, and i look for its source. there in the 3rd row stands tony stark himself.
In particular, Shuri’s genius and her young age have contributed to the “Science Family” phenomenon, which builds off of the “Science Bros” fan dynamic between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Given that Tony has all but adopted Peter Parker at this point, pulling Shuri into the fold seems like a natural progression.
Fan creations depicting Shuri and Peter as partners in science are prolific.
Content depicting Shuri and Peter as partners in memes (as two MCU teens) is perhaps even more prolific.
At the end of the day, however, Shuri is a young black woman — and far smarter than everyone else in the MCU. The aforementioned Black Panther producer, Nate Moore, told Screen Rant, “Black faces in positions of power or positions of technological know-how, that’s a rarity.”
Shuri, even without confirmation from the Russo brothers, has been killing it since day one.