Warning: as you can tell from the headline, we are talking *major spoilers* from Marvel’s Black Panther, since it has officially opened in wide release. If you read any further and spoil yourself about a movie you have yet to see, it is your own fault! Consider yourself sufficiently warned.
Now that the prerequisite warning is out of the way, let’s talk some Black Panther end credits scene goodness! If you’ve ever seen an Marvel movie before, chances are you’re already conditioned to wait in the theater, even past when they turn the lights up, because you know that bonus scenes are coming. Black Panther is no exception. The latest offering in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has *two* end credits scenes which is like a gift that just keeps on giving. Some stinger scenes are there to hype up the next movie in the MCU while others are just there for pure comedy. There’s no predicting which movie is going to give you the former and which will just hilariously go for the latter, but Black Panther was all hype.
The first mid credits scene was a huge gamechanger for the MCU, with King T’Challa finally bringing Wakanda’s science and technology out into the open with a big speech at the UN. But what we’re really here to talk about is the second scene, which comes at the very end of the credits. — and it’s one that leaves us literally giving a standing ovation in the movie theater. That’s because, after oh-so-patiently waiting for the rumored glimpse of Captain America throughout the whole movie, we were collectively thrown for a loop. Deep in the fringes of Wakanda, some kids are huddled around something, giggling, before the mysterious person wakes up. And thought everyone thought it would be Cap, it was actually the internet’s favorite boyfriend Bucky Barnes.
Buck! It’s good to see you up and on your feet, old friend. The last time we saw him was in the Captain America: Civil War mid-credits scene, where he was seeking refuge with Cap in Wakanda and having some medical tests done on him to try to try and heal his brainwashed mind. He’s trying to shake off his villain training, and that means erasing his brainwashing trigger words that got him and Cap on the world’s most wanted list.
Seeing as how Bucky is up and about, t’s clear that his training and healing has been going well. T’Challa’s sister Shuri (our new favorite Disney Princess) has been overseeing it all, which makes sense because she’s Wakanda’s chief engineer and scientist. But now we desperately need a movie in the MCU starring Shuri and Bucky because can you even imagine the sarcastic, joyful Shuri bantering with the dour, brooding Buck?
Marvel, take our money!
The scene ends with Shuri taking Bucky on a walk, promising to teach him all about Wakanda as the kids who were watching him shout, “White Wolf!” at him. Now this may seem like just a cute interaction with the youths of Wakanda, showing that Bucky is no longer a threat to those around him if kids are able to play around him and tease him. But the moniker White Wolf actually has a deeper comic book meaning, which means even bigger things for Bucky in Infinity War.
In the comics, White Wolf was the alias of T’Challa’s adopted white brother Hunter. When Hunter’s parents died in a plane crash, T’Challa’s father T’Chaka adopted him and raised him in Wakanda. Since he wouldn’t ascend to the throne, Hunter proved his love for Wakanda by becoming the best soldier he could be and ended up leading the Wakandan secret police force, Hatut Zeraze. When T’Challa became king, he disbanded the Hatut Zeraze because of their brutality, so Hunter left with his men to become mercenaries all over the world, but he kept a special place in his heart for Wakanda and his brother and often came back to help Wakanda when it needed him.
By having the Wakandan children call Bucky “White Wolf,” it’s clear that Marvel is setting up Bucky to take on the mythology of Hunter in future films. Now that he’s no longer a brainwashed villain, he can put his extensive military training and assassin skills to use with the Hatut Zeraze. It now makes sense why Bucky is seen fighting alongside Wakandans in the Infinity War trailer, if he ends up staying there for a long period of time. It even means some bonding might be in store for former nemeses T’Challa and Bucky (watch out, Cap, he’s about to steal your BFF)!
But this end credits scene doesn’t answer the question of where Cap is. That’s literally the only thing Black Panther was missing.