Wakanda is safe and sound at the end of Marvel’s Black Panther. But the delayed return of a Marvel hero during a post-credits scene makes for an obvious prologue to the cataclysmic events that await in Avengers: Infinity War.
Spoilers for Marvel’s Black Panther ahead.
In the post-credits scene of Captain America: Civil War, the fugitive James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) came under Wakandan custody. Accused of murdering King T’Chaka, Bucky was absolved when T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) arrested the true guilty party, Baron Zemo.
Still, Bucky was wanted by the U.S. for literally everything else he’s done as the Winter Soldier. As a gesture of thanks to Steve Rogers, and penance for accusing the wrong man, T’Challa agreed to keep Bucky safe in Wakanda while having his country’s best figure out how to get rid of Bucky’s brainwashing. Until then, Bucky is kept frozen in ice, not unlike how his best pal Steve Rogers spent most of the twentieth century.
A week later, when Black Panther takes place, Bucky is healed and wakes up in a hut in a beautiful lake during a sunset. T’Challa’s sister, Shuri — who alludes to Bucky in the film as the injured Everett Ross is wheeled in and Shuri is excited to heal “another broken white boy” — greets Bucky, telling the “White Wolf” there is training for him yet.
Not only is Bucky going to learn Wakandan combat to make him an even more lethal asset, Bucky is adopting a new name from Marvel canon: White Wolf.
What is the White Wolf?
In the comics, “White Wolf” is the nickname given to Hunter, the white adopted child of King T’Chaka. Before T’Challa was born, Hunter was left in Wakanda when his family died in a plane crash, where T’Chaka took him in and raised him as his own. However, when T’Challa was born, T’Chaka’s attention shifted, leaving Hunter jealous of his baby brother.
Knowing that Hunter’s restless energies needed to be channeled into something useful, T’Chaka put Hunter into the training of the Hatut Zeraze, the king’s secret police that an adult T’Challa would vehemently oppose. Hunter rose the ranks of the Hatut Zeraze to become their leader, who formally embraced his nickname of “White Wolf.” Like his brother, Hunter also had a costume of his own. The White Wolf’s first appearance can be found in the early issues of Christopher Priest’s Black Panther run.
In the MCU, Bucky seems to have earned the White Wolf moniker. Though he isn’t being adopted by the crown, Bucky’s skills will make him useful for the Wakandan army, and the “White Wolf” nickname — a reference to his obvious nature as an outsider — seems to be given to him affectionately. For a one-armed soldier of doom, Bucky’s pretty cool around kids.
With Bucky’s brainwashing behind him, it looks like the Winter Soldier is no more and the White Wolf is in. Hopefully Bucky’s training with Wakandan tactics will come in handy when it’s time to wage war with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War in a few short months.
Marvel’s Black Panther is in theaters now.