The Marvel Cinematic Universe just got even bigger thanks to a trip to the technological utopia that is Wakanda, and Black Panther offered up more shocking twists that could affect the future of the superhero franchise during its end credits. The movie includes two post-credits scenes, which both tease huge ramifications for Wakanda and the rest of the universe moving forward. Let's dissect the meaning of the Black Panther post-credits scenes and why they are such a big deal for upcoming Marvel movies.
SPOILER ALERT: Obviously, don't read on if you haven't seen Black Panther yet and want to remain unspoiled. By now, every Marvel movie fan knows not to leave during the end credits. In the case of Black Panther, there are two extra scenes that pop up while the names roll, and each of them serve a different purpose in teasing what will happen next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first one promises an upgraded, whole new world and a possible Black Panther sequel, while the second one has a more immediate effect on the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
Scene 1: Earth Gets An Upgrade
The first post-credits scene is something of an homage to the post-credits scene in Iron Man, when Tony Stark holds a press conference to reveal to the world that he is Iron Man. T'Challa similarly steps up to a podium as the world watches on, this time as part of a United Nations conference, and prepares to reveal the powerful secrets that Wakanda has been hiding from the rest of the world for years.
This U.N. scene resolves the central conflict that ran throughout Black Panther: whether Wakanda should continue to pose as a Third-World country in order to protect their Vibranium, or whether the nation should use their advanced technology to help the oppressed people of the world who need aid. It's a difficult decision, since Wakanda revealing the truth risks Vibranium falling into the wrong hands, but continuing to keep the substance a secret means that they cannot help good people who need saving. In the end, T'Challa finally decides to break Wakandan tradition and reveal what Vibranium can do to the world.
So, what does this decision mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward? Well, considering Vibranium is the most powerful substance on Earth, it's obviously going to be a huge deal now that everyone in the world knows about it. The good news is that it will help beef up the good guys, as the Avengers: Infinity War trailer has shown an upgraded Iron Man suit and a new shield for Captain America, but it also has the potential to make the bad guys even more powerful, as well as placing a big target on Wakanda for everyone trying to nab some Vibranium.
The big announcement could also lend itself to a Black Panther sequel focused on the dangerous backlash to Vibranium becoming public knowledge. Marvel has not announced a sequel yet, though, so we will just have to wait and see if that is the direction the studio is planning to go.
Scene 2: The Winter Soldier Gets A New Codename
The second post-credits scene is the more pressing one. In it, we see Bucky Barnes wake up in a hut in a remote part of Wakanda, surrounded by children. As he walks outside, Shuri greets him and says she is going to fill him in on what has been going down while he was unconscious. This scene resolves the post-credits scene from Captain America: Civil War, when Bucky voluntarily enters cryogenic stasis in Wakanda until the country's scientists can figure out a way to remove Hydra's mind control from his brain. We already knew that Bucky would wake up soon since he appears in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, but the scene seems to reveal that Shuri was successful in removing Bucky's mind-controlled assassin alter-ego, the Winter Soldier.
More interestingly, it sounds like Bucky may be adopting a new code name in place of the new banished Winter Soldier. When the Wakandan children see Bucky wake up, they exclaim that the "White Wolf" is up. Now, this will perk the ears of Marvel comic readers, because White Wolf is actually a character in the Black Panther comic books.
In the comics, Hunter was T'Chaka's adopted son, making him T'Challa's adoptive brother. T'Chaka adopted Hunter as a boy when his parents died in a plane crash in Wakanda, and although he was not native to the country, he grew up to become one of Wakanda's proudest patriots. Hunter adopted the name White Wolf when King T'Chaka appointed him to lead Wakanda's brutal secret police force, called Hatut Zeraze. Although he always resented T'Challa for becoming king instead of himself after T'Chaka's death, White Wolf remained loyal to the throne out of his love for Wakanda.
So, what should we make of Bucky Barnes being referred to as White Wolf? Well, clearly his backstory does not match up with that of the comic book White Wolf — Bucky was born and raised in Brooklyn in the early 1900s and served alongside Captain America in the fight against Hydra during World War II. He had never been to Wakanda up until the final moments of Civil War.
So, although Bucky is clearly not the White Wolf from the comics, the name could still be teasing some interesting details about Bucky's future. If the White Wolf name drop is supposed to remind us of the comics, then perhaps Bucky will similarly grow from a Wakandan outsider into one of the country's staunchest defenders. After all, comic book White Wolf's brutal career as the head of Wakanda's secret police could translate pretty closely to Bucky's army background and his training as an assassin. Maybe this reference to White Wolf is supposed to tell us that Bucky will choose to remain in Wakanda after Avengers: Infinity War.
We will have to wait until Infinity War premieres on May 4, 2018 to know for sure what's going to happen to Bucky Barnes.