Who is the White Wolf?
Spoilers for Black Panther below!
Continuing Marvel's ten year tradition of post-credits stingers and teases for upcoming movies, Black Panther included two end credits scenes.
With the movie out in the UK and hitting worldwide this week, it's time to talk about them.
This is your last warning: If you haven't seen Black Panther yet, stop reading now!
The first is what you might have expected, given the end of the movie itself. T'Challa presents Wakanda's anti-isolationist shift to a United Nations-style government body, announcing that his nation will now be open to sharing their resources with the world. Of course, remembering that as far as the rest of the world is concerned in the MCU, Wakanda is a third world, underdeveloped country, he's met with some confusion--all while his new friend CIA Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) smiles knowingly from the back of the crowd.
The stinger doesn't overstay its welcome. T'Challa isn't actually shown dropping the proverbial Vibranium bombshell on the poor unsuspecting world leaders, but the implication is enough. The landscape of the MCU, both politically and technologically, is about to change in a major way. This is a deceptively important detail, especially given the MCU's upcoming movie slate.
With Wakandan tech made more accessible, the landscape for both superheroes and civilians is about to take a major leap forward--and it's a safe bet that not every change will be positive, especially with the possibility of villains appropriating new tech too.
The real question is when--rather than if--we'll start seeing the impact of publicized Vibranium and Wakandan tech. After all, we can venture a guess that Wakandan weapons stand a better chance against Thanos than standard military faire--but will they be ready in time for Infinity War?
The White Wolf
Black Panther's second post-credits scene is a bit more direct with its Infinity War connections. We see, first in first-person perspective, someone waking up in an isolated Wakandan village, surrounded by curious Wakandan children. That someone is revealed to be none other than Bucky Barnes, last seen being put back into cryostasis in--surprise--Wakanda, during one of Captain America: Civil War's post-credits scenes.
The Civil War stinger didn't offer much context for Bucky's decision to be returned to stasis, outside of his own fear that he may be "activated" and manipulated by his Hydra-implanted trigger word programming all over again. But thankfully, between the end of Civil War and the end of Black Panther, Shuri, T'Challa's 16-year-old engineering genius sister, has been hard at work trying to solve Bucky's unique psychological problem.
We get a wink to Shuri's involvement during the movie itself when she offhandedly comments about being given "another broken white boy to fix" and an extrapolated look in Infinity War: Prelude #1, part one of a two part prequel comic released in January--not to mention the fact that Bucky was shown standing with the Wakandan army in the Infinity War trailer--so none of this is really all that surprising.
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However, during the scene as Bucky walks from the tent to greet and thank Shuri outside, the children scatter around him playfully calling him "the white wolf" as they dash away. Cute as it sounds in context, that's a nickname with some genuine weight to it in the scope of Black Panther mythology.
The White Wolf, over in the comics, is actually the nickname given to a man named Hunter, who was orphaned as a baby in a plane crash on the outskirts of Wakanda. King T'Chaka, father of T'Challa, found Hunter and adopted him despite his people's concerns that Hunter was both white and an outsider to Wakanda in general. Hunter was raised to adulthood under T'Chaka's protection to become one of the leaders of the Hatut Zeraze, or the "Dogs of War"--a Wakandan covert special forces group.
Now, obviously, that story isn't going to translate over to the MCU in its entirety. The War Dogs are used in Black Panther as international spies, and T'Chaka clearly didn't raise a secret orphaned baby to lead them, but the role and significance of the "White Wolf," and the loose parallels between Bucky and Hunter, are definitely worth noting.
Given Bucky's training as a spy and assassin, him finding a way to either work for or with the War Dogs during Infinity War and into the future seems like a logical narrative step--and one that could dovetail into an expanded role for other Wakandan special forces like the Dora Milaje in the future, especially if Bucky finally picks up Cap's shield for keeps in Phase Four.
Regardless, we know that there's more to come for Bucky and Shuri before Infinity War really picks up, considering he was still short a cybernetic arm in the post-credits stinger and can be seen sporting a new model in the trailer. He's definitely due for a Vibranium upgrade.
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