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Zuri is an important character within the Black Panther universe. The former War Dog now serves as the hand of the king. This burly mountain of a man is also a shaman, always willing to help the people of Wakanda.
Like a loyal servant, he protects the secret of Wakanda and its bloodline. N’Jobu’s death and the way he handled it show us that Zuri is a trustworthy ally. Even when T’Challa took control of the country, he remained loyal to the king of Wakanda.
Eventually, Erik Killmonger got back to Wakanda and would go on to challenge T’Challa in a duel. Zuri oversaw the ceremonial procedure by setting up a battle between the two. As the duel was nearing its grueling climax, Zuri showed his unwavering faith by offering his life to save his king. At that moment, he reveals to Killmonger that he is partially to blame for his father’s death.
In this Zuri Black Panther guide, I will talk more about the character, his abilities, appearances, and personality.
Key Info Up Front
Zuri is a loyal servant to the throne of Wakanda. So much so that he sacrificed his own life to protect his king. The shaman uses the Spear of Bashenga to vanquish his foes.
Zuri is a selfless character that always puts the needs of the Wakandan people ahead of his own. He is well aware of the fact that the country needs to stay hidden to survive the onslaught of invading forces. In fact, he puts this as one of his priorities during his time on the court.
Aside from political work, Zuri is also responsible for religious processions as the court’s shaman. He is an important character in preserving the land’s culture and heritage. Among others, he was responsible for the coronation procedure. After that, he would oversee the process of Heart-Shaped Herb consumption.
Regardless of his valorous beliefs and the fact he always tries the right thing, Zuri made his fair share of mistakes during his time on the court. This is best shown during the sad events between N’Jobu and T’Chaka. The Wakanda’s champion always felt responsible for what transpired between N’Jobu and T’Chaka.
Zuri doesn’t bear any illusions as to why all these things occurred; in his mind, he is fully responsible for N’Jobu’s untimely death. He bore this secret for 24 years just so that the Wakanda’s integrity could be protected. The guilt was eating him apart all this time, but he stayed true to his allegiance despite the obstacles in his way. In his last moments, Zuri did confess to N’Jobu’s son, N’Jadaka, that he was responsible for his father’s death. And with that, the circle was closed.
During his early life, Zuri worked primarily as an informer for the king T’Chaka. He went to the United States to observe N’Jobu’s behavior. Black Panther’s cousin had a plan of utilizing Wakanda’s vibranium to dominate the whole world and release black people from their servility.
To maintain his cover, Zuri presented himself to N’Jobu as his best friend called, James. The two of them worked together with Ulysses Klaue in an attempt to dethrone T’Chaka. The plan was for Klaue to attack Wakanda with the information provided by N’Jobu, thus creating a path for a new ruler.
T’Chaka was aware of this plan as he was promptly given information by his trusty advisor Zuri. He went on to reveal his true identity to N’Jobu, prompting a fit of rage. He immediately took his gun but just as he was preparing to shoot, T’Chaka intervened, killing his sibling.
Looking for a way to remedy the situation, the two of them decided to leave N’Jadaka in Wakanda. They made up a story explaining his father’s death.
T’Challa as a New Ruler
The same way he served the father, Zuri would serve the son when he came of age. In fact, he anointed T’Challa as the new king of Wakanda at Warrior Falls. After giving him Heart-Shaped Herb, Zuri provided a serum that would eliminate its effect.
After the ceremony, Zuri asked other tribesmen if they wished to challenge the rule of the newly appointed king. According to him, the only way to win the duel is either via death or surrender. As it usually goes in these situations, there was someone who wanted to try their luck with the challenge. Jabari Tribe, ruled by M’Baku, stepped up to the plate. Despite his best effort, M’Baku didn’t manage to win, and T’Challa was crowned the new ruler of the country.
T’Challa was always intrigued by Zuri and his experiences in the outside world. Once, he even asked the old warrior if he considered going back, to which he replied that everything outside Wakanda is too chaotic and unpredictable.
As previously mentioned, T’Challa ate Heart-Shaped Herb after the coronation ceremony. This would give him access to Black Panther’s powers. Zuri gave his new king a small piece of the herb, which was buried in the ground later on.
After the procession, T’Challa went to T’Chaka by visiting the Ancestral Plane. They talked about the late king, reminiscing about all the good times they had together. The two of them were talking about the fact that T’Chaka got fatter and fatter with time, and eventually, he could no longer fit the Black Panther outfit.
Another thing they talked about was T’Chaka’s trip to Vienna. During this official visit, he talked about Wakanda and how he hoped that the country could become a part of the world. In a way, this move doomed the country by revealing its presence to the large masses.
See also: Invincible Characters Guide
Zuri’s Past Transgressions and Making Amends
As it usually goes, Zuri’s past sins eventually came back to bite him. During one conversation with T’Challa, Zuri was forced to tell the young king what transpired between him and his uncle N’Jobu. T’Challa was always perplexed as to where his uncle was. Even his father was very secretive regarding N’Jobu’s whereabouts.
It was very hard for Zuri to talk about this matter, as he had sworn to keep the secret. As the conversation went on, T’Challa eventually lost his patience, forcing Zuri to admit the truth. Not being able to reject his new monarch, Zuri decided to tell T’Challa everything about N’Jobu and how his father killed him.
Despite all his flaws and sins, Zuri has shown his true colors by placing his life on the line for T’Challa during his duel with Erik Killmonger, that is, his cousin N’Jadaka. Zuri was watching over the fight that took place at Warrior Falls. Before the duel could begin, he gave T’Challa a serum removing his Black Panther powers and making it a fair fight.
Although T’Challa is a great fighter, he was no match for his brother’s savagery and battle expertise. Killmonger landed a blow after blow, putting T’Challa in a prone position. Just as he was preparing to finish him off, Zuri intervened in the fight, thus breaking the ancient rules.
Zuri Black Panther has shown utmost loyalty by offering Killmonger his own life instead of T’Challa’s. In a way, this would close the circle for Zuri, as he eventually got an opportunity to amend for N’Jobu’s passing. After revealing the whole story to Killmonger, Erik is so angry that he goes on to viciously impale Zuri. The trusty advisor was almost instantly killed, leaving T’Challa in shock.
Although a part of the superhero world, Zuri does not have any special abilities. Nevertheless, he has managed to climb to the top of Wakanda’s society through intellect and resourcefulness. These two things allowed him to do great even when the odds were stacked against him.
To say that Zuri is just smart would be an understatement. He is an extremely intelligent and cerebral part of the court, which allowed him to survive as much as he did. You can notice his high IQ throughout the comic when he had to make tough strategic decisions and keep secrets without compromising the royal family.
In the movie, you can see that Zuri is proficient in the art of espionage. He has an impeccable cover that keeps him safe from N’Jobu and N’Jadaka. Furthermore, he made a seamless transition to James, N’Jobu’s good friend, without N’Jobu ever realizing that this was someone else.
He also handles the conversation with Ulysses Klaue really well. Zuri is a shrewd diplomat who can instill ideas in other people’s minds without them even realizing they’re being manipulated. Aside from speaking English, this burly man can also speak Xhosa.
Although this isn’t shown in the movie, the comic book portrays Zuri as a strong, relentless character. He can be considered one of the most powerful individuals in Wakanda, and you can see this on numerous occasions.
Zuri’s Weapons and Equipment
During the comic, Zuri utilizes a few tools. The most impressive one is the Spear of Bashenga, which he also used against Erik Killmonger. He also utilizes War Dog Tattoo as a form of distinction.
Spear of Bashenga
Like all other Wakanda weapons, this object is made from pure vibranium, making it virtually unbreakable. The substance is the most durable on Earth, and you can easily find it in Wakanda but not necessarily in other places.
The legacy weapon is passed on from one user to another. As the name implies, it was first used by a warrior shaman known as Bashenga. He was the first Black Panther, and once the shaman died, the Wakanda warriors stored the spear as a sacred object. For millennia, it was only used for ceremonies and processions.
Finally, in the 21st century, the spear was given to another renowned shaman, Zuri. The weapon was first seen during T’Challa’s coronation. He used it to mark the beginning of a duel between the king and M’Baku.
Once again, he had the spear during the duel between T’Challa and Erik Killmonger. Just as Killmonger was getting ready to finish off the Wakanda king, Zuri blocked his attack with this weapon. However, he didn’t use the weapon to continue the fight. Instead, he offered Killmonger his own life instead of T’Challa’s, thus preserving his honor and giving Killmonger the option to exact revenge.
Other Equipment and Tools
Zuri relies on a few other minor items during the comic. One of them is War Dog Tattoo. It is placed within his gums, and it is a mark of recognition between War Dog members. During his mission, when he joined N’Jobu, Zuri used this tattoo to distinguish himself as a member of the faction, thus getting a safe passage.
Zuri and Other Superheroes
Zuri had a small but noticeable role during the Black Panther movie. He had a much more prominent role in the comic book. In fact, he was a good friend to various superheroes and, in particular, Avengers. For example, Zuri and Thor are really close friends in the comics.
Zuri and Obi-Wan
According to Ryan Coogler, the director behind Black Panther, Zuri has numerous similarities to Obi-Wan. Both of them are mentors and religious figures. Although Star Wars doesn’t emphasize this enough, the Force can be regarded as a type of religion while vibranium weapons are somewhat similar to lightsabers.
Young and Old Zuri
In the movie, young and old Zuri are portrayed by two different persons. Old Zuri is the acclaimed Hollywood actor Forest Whitaker, while the young Zuri is portrayed by Denzel Whitaker. Interestingly enough, although they bear the same last name, they are not related. The same coupled stared in “The Great Debaters.”
Significance of Oakland
In the comic book and movie, Zuri and N’Jobu visited Oakland. There is a reason why this location was used for the shoot. Not only is the director Ryan Coogler from the area, but it is also the place where Black Panthers were established back in 1966.
Question: Was Zuri a Black Panther?
Answer: Although Zuri ultimately received the Spear of Bashenga, the weapon used by the first Black Panther, he never inherited the superhero powers. Instead, he only worked as an advisor and a spy for king T’Chaka. In the comic book, this role is performed by T’Challa.
Question: Who is Zuri?
Answer: Zuri was a member of War Dogs, and he went on a spy mission during which he exposed N’Jobu’s evil plan. He is also a reputable Wakandan shaman who performs all the important rituals such as coronations but also serves as a mediator during traditional duels. He served both kings T’Chaka and, after that, his son, T’Challa.
Question: How did Zuri help T’Challa?
Answer: In the movie, Killmonger was getting ready to eliminate the king T’Challa in a traditional duel. At the last moment, Zuri stopped his killing blow by blocking it with the Spear of Bashenga. After that, he offers his own life just so that Killmonger spares T’Challa. He was a loyal subject to all Wakanda kings to the bitter end.
Zuri Black Panther is a Wakanda warrior, spy, and shaman. During his life, he had a prominent place on the court, serving both T’Chaka and his son, T’Challa. After one particular mission, he inadvertently caused the death of Killmonger’s father, N’Jobu. Zuri and the king T’Chaka kept this information a secret for more than 25 years until finally revealing it to Killmonger.
Zuri is a sturdy warrior, a cunning diplomat, and, above else, a good friend to T’Challa. In fact, he even sacrificed his life so that he could save the young ruler when he was threatened by Killmonger.
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