Black Panther’s post-credits scene might initially strike you as a bit underwhelming. On the surface, all it really does is show us a character we expected to see in the first place, and it doesn’t reveal anything that significant about Infinity War. Fans thought they might find out something about the Soul Stone, but that doesn’t happen.
However, the post-credits scene is actually more important than it first appears, and the reason comes down to two simple words. Here’s why the Black Panther ending has big implications for a key character (page 5) and what it could mean for the future of the MCU (page 7). This should go without saying, but major spoilers ahead!
The post-credits scene implies Bucky is back to normal
The post-credits scene in Black Panther focuses on Bucky Barnes. It’s sort of a follow-up to Captain America: Civil War’s stinger, which showed Bucky being put into cryosleep in Wakanda.
A tie-in comic later explained that Shuri was going to attempt to cleanse Bucky’s mind of his Hydra brainwashing. After a few months of work, she was able to figure out how to do so. During Black Panther itself, we get a slight hint at the fact that Shuri has been working to cure Bucky; when Everett Ross arrives, she says he’s another white boy for her to fix.
At the end of the movie, Bucky seems to be completely normal. Shuri asks him how he’s feeling, and he smiles and says, “Good.” We can presume that the cleansing of his mind has worked. Still, Shuri says there’s much he has to learn.
But this is just the obvious reading of the scene. There’s a lot more going on that you may have missed.
Next: The nickname Bucky gets is significant.
He is referred to by the name “White Wolf”
Initially, you might be disappointed by this scene. We already knew that Bucky was in Wakanda, and we already knew that he was being cured of his brainwashing. So what’s the point? Well, there’s another layer here that isn’t immediately apparent.
As Bucky exits the tent, Wakandan kids refer to him by the nickname “White Wolf.” Those who aren’t familiar with the comics don’t really take note of this. But those who are immediately perk up.
Next: This is what “White Wolf” means.
White Wolf is a character in the comic books
White Wolf is not just a random nickname. It’s actually the name of a character in Black Panther lore.
The name carries some weight, and there’s clearly a reason Ryan Coogler put it in the movie. It would be like having a post-credits scene in the next Spider-Man where someone is nicknamed “Green Goblin.” You don’t throw those words around unless it’s for a specific purpose.
So what is that purpose? What are the implications of name-dropping White Wolf? And who exactly is White Wolf, anyway?
Next: This is who White Wolf was in the source material.
White Wolf is Hunter, a foreigner adopted by T’Chaka as a baby
In the comics, White Wolf is the name given to a character named Hunter. The White Wolf moniker is fitting since it’s a pretty accurate description of the suit he wears. When he was a baby, Hunter was on a plane that crashed in Wakanda. He survived the crash, but his parents didn’t, and so King T’Chaka adopted him. As Hunter grows up in Wakanda, he develops a deep love for his nation.
This all happens years before T’Challa is born, and so Hunter is under the impression that he might get to be king one day. When T’Challa is born, that all goes away. This causes Hunter to grow bitter and jealous of T’Challa, T’Chaka’s biological son and his rightful heir.
Eventually, T’Chaka appoints Hunter head of Wakanda’s secret police, the Hatut Zeraze, also known as the Dogs of War. The reason they’re kept a secret is that they use cruel methods like torture. But when T’Challa becomes king, one of the first things he does is disband the Hatut Zeraze. Afterwards, Hunter goes off on his own and works as a mercenary loyal to Wakanda.
Next: Why calling Bucky White Wolf is significant
Will Bucky take on White Wolf’s role in future movies?
Obviously, Bucky’s backstory is quite a bit different than Hunter’s. But the post-credits scene could be implying that Bucky will serve a similar role in the story. After all, Bucky is also a foreigner who is taken in and saved by the people of Wakanda.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Bucky fights alongside the Wakandan people in the giant battle. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything since many of the Avengers fight alongside him. But perhaps after that whole thing is over, Bucky will continue working for Wakanda.
By the end of Black Panther, the Wakandans have revealed their true nature to the world, so they might need someone like Bucky on their side. This can be the start of Bucky’s redemption, and Bucky could even be a major player in Black Panther 2, just like Thor: Ragnarok incorporated The Hulk and Spider-Man: Homecoming incorporated Iron Man.
Next: The one wrinkle in all of this.
But White Wolf is an antagonist, so what does that mean for Bucky?
But if Bucky is to take on White Wolf’s exact role, that’s a bit concerning. After all, in the comics, White Wolf has an antagonistic relationship with T’Challa. As we mentioned, he’s extraordinarily jealous of him for being the rightful heir. But he’s also bitter over the fact that T’Challa disbanded the Hatut Zeraze.
So does that mean that Bucky is going to turn evil again and go against T’Challa in the next movie? There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason Bucky would fight T’Challa the way Hunter does unless he’s not actually cleansed of his brainwashing.
It could be the case that this antagonistic relationship is being completely dropped, and the only similarities Bucky will share with White Wolf is that they’re both foreigners who were saved by Wakandans and who return the favor by fighting for them.
Next: There’s an alternate reading of the scene, though.
Might the real White Wolf exist in this universe?
One other theory is that the use of the name White Wolf is a hint that the real Hunter is actually out there in this universe, and in Black Panther 2, he’ll be the main villain. Perhaps the kids didn’t just randomly come up with the name White Wolf; maybe they’re calling Bucky that because he reminds them of the real White Wolf.
However, that seems fairly unlikely because that would make the plot of Black Panther 2 fairly similar to the first. It already seems like a lot of aspects of Hunter’s story were merged into Killmonger’s, so Killmonger is probably a replacement for Hunter. The whole relationship between Black Panther and White Wolf — at least, the comic book version of White Wolf — might also be a bit too similar to the Thor and Loki relationship.
Next: The post-credits scene has implications for Captain America, too.
This may imply Bucky won’t become Captain America anytime soon
There’s one last implication of this scene that’s worth noting. As fans continue trying to figure out who is going to die or retire in Avengers 4, the two most common guesses are Iron Man and Captain America. Most fans think that if Steve Rogers is phased out as Captain America, either Bucky or The Falcon will take over for him.
Either one would make sense, as both have become Captain America in the comics. However, it now seems a lot less likely that it will be Bucky. After all, why give Bucky this whole new identity and connection to Wakanda right before Captain America dies or retires if the plan is for him to take over? Now, it seems like either Steve Rogers will stick around, or it’s The Falcon who will be Steve’s successor.
Even if he doesn’t become the new Cap, though, it sounds like the Marvel Cinematic Universe has big plans for Bucky Barnes going forward.
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