SPOILER ALERT: This articles contains spoilers from the movie Black Panther, which opened nationwide Friday. Read at your own risk!
As we count down to the long-awaited uber-team-up Avengers: Infinity War (out May 4), EW’s Marvel Movie Club is preparing by revisiting the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in the weeks leading up to the mega-sized movie. EW’s Chancellor Agard (that’s me!) will revisit one Marvel movie a week, every week, to reassess its powers and hopefully answer important questions along the way like “What was The Incredible Hulk?” “Does Nick Fury wash his eye-patch?” and “Is there a point to Hawkeye?” This week, we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to discuss Marvel’s new masterpiece, Black Panther.
If there’s one thing you can count on from every Marvel Studios movie, whether good or bad, it’s that it will include at least one end-credits scene. Some scenes might set up future movies, like S.H.I.E.L.D. discovering Thor’s hammer at the end of Iron Man 2, and others may tease nothing at all and are really just there for the laughs (see: Tony Stark’s therapy session at the end of Iron Man 3, or at least half of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2’s five post-movie stingers). It shouldn’t come as a surprise to say Black Panther isn’t an exception and includes two post-credit scenes that will get you excited about spending more money on the studios’ future movies. Below, we breakdown the two scenes and explain what they could possibly mean for both Avengers: Infinity War and the future of Black Panther’s story in the MCU.
(LAST WARNING: Stop reading now if you haven’t seen Black Panther and don’t want to be spoiled).
The Mid-Credits Scene: Wakanda is isolationist no more
In the first post-movie scene, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) standing by his side, addresses the United Nations and reveals that he plans on sharing the country’s advanced technology with the world. His reasoning is that now more than ever, the illusions of divisions are the greatest threat to humanity’s existence (and not Cosmic Glowing MacGuffins and Beams of Light in the Sky, as every other Marvel movie would have you believe). “We must find a way to look after one another as if we are one tribe,” he says. A confused and condescending assemblyman asks what Wakanda has to offer the world, and T’Challa just smiles.
Why was the assemblyman confused? Well because up until that point, the world believed Wakanda was an isolationist third world country. But we know that’s a lie: Wakanda is an Afrofuturistic dreamscape and the most technologically advanced nation on the planet thanks to its endless reserves of Vibranium, a rare metal it has used to build its cities, make weapons, and medical advancements. In order to protect itself from imperialism and dangerous third parties, Wakanda hid its true nature from everyone else. But now it’s ready to open its doors the world.
The film’s first credit scene is also a reminder of what makes Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger the best Marvel villain yet. As we learn in the movie, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, T’Challa’s half Wakandan, half African-American cousin, returns to his father’s homeland because he believes this technologically advanced country isn’t doing enough to help black people around the world. He wants to use Wakanda’s weapons to destroy white supremacy and force political change on a global scale by overthrowing the old order and replacing it with a Wakandan empire that would, in theory, govern more justly. Admittedly, his plan is a bit extreme, but there’s a good idea at the core: Wakandan isolation hurts the world and prevents progress. And T’Challa recognizes that, hence he gives this speech at the U.N. This is one of the few times where it feels like a Marvel villain has an actual profound effect on the hero that will last far beyond this one movie. Wakanda opening its doors to rest of the globe will not only change the world, but also change Wakanda itself. Moreover, T’Challa will have even more eyes on him, which means his dual role as a king and superhero may raise a few questions.
Looking ahead, this decision to share Wakanda with the world also confirms that T’Challa’s country will most likely play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War. No doubt, its many weapons will come in handy against Infinity stones-obsessed Thanos (Josh Brolin). To be fair, this is something we could’ve guessed based on the first Infinity War trailer, which teased several big battles taking place in the Afrofuturistic dreamscape.
The Post-Credits Scene: A soldier wakes up
Black Panther‘s post-credits scene picks up one of Captain America: Civil War‘s dangling threads and more directly points us toward Infinity War than the mid-credits scene. In it, a bunch of children wake up Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a.k.a. the Winter Soldier, before running away. Bucky follows them outside where he’s greeted by T’Challa’s genius younger sister Shuri (scene-stealer Letitia Wright) and thanks her for healing him.
The last time we saw Bucky was at the end of Civil War. In order to remove his HYDRA brainwashing, which could be activated at any time with the right trigger words, he traveled to Wakanda and was put in cryostasis until T’Challa’s scientists could find a cure. It seems as though Shuri — who makes a joke about repairing broken white men earlier in the movie — was able to do that. With the brainwashing removed, Bucky is no longer a threat to those closest to him.
As the scene ends, the kids yell “White Wolf” at Bucky as he heads off on a walk with Shuri, who promises to teach him more about Wakanda. That nickname, “White Wolf,” is big comic book reference. In the comics, the White Wolf is Hunter, T’Challa’s older white foster brother. T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, adopted Hunter after his parents died in a plane crash in Wakanda. Even though Hunter was always viewed as an outsider and wasn’t accepted by Wakandans, he devoted himself to the country, rose up the ranks, and eventually became the leader of Wakanda’s secret police force, the Hatut Zeraze, earning the name White Wolf.
By having the kids call Bucky “White Wolf,” this suggests that Bucky may end up putting his assassin training to some use in Wakanda. We already know that he’ll be sticking around the country for a while because we see him charging into battle with Captain America, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Okoye, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Panther, and an entire Wakandan army in the Infinity War trailer. Assuming Bucky survives Infinity War, this might mean we’ll see him again in Black Panther 2 (assuming there is one).