Marvel’s latest masterpiece, Black Panther, has opened to great theatrical success. As expected, it’s putting up a very strong performance, raking in a smashing US$218 million over its opening weekend in the United States, and demolishing Deadpool’s past record in 2016.
Critics and naysayers can say what they want, but there’s no denying the charm of this beloved afrofuturism flick, in which its memorable cast of characters, detail-fuelled storyline, and celebration of the African culture have captured the hearts of the movie-loving community – the factor of having watched it notwithstanding.
Just like the other titles in the MCU, there are post-credits scenes in store for moviegoers. Those who have caught the movie would have already been treated to the extra goodness, but for others yet to see it, here’s a note: there are actually two (2) of them to look forward to.
On a superficial level, they may not seem like much. Delve deeper, and therein lies a story borne from its comic counterpart, a tale telling of canon material that goes beyond just the surface of things.
A fair warning before proceeding: Thread with care, for it’s going to be a spoiler fest.
Significance of Bucky’s reappearance
The Winter Soldier makes an appearance on the silver screen, still sporting a missing arm, but in undoubtedly better condition than in Captain America: Civil War. Where the mercenary was formerly placed in cryogenic stasis, he’s now being rehabilitated by Shuri, amidst the terrains of a small Wakandan village.
Eagle-eyed fans would notice the gap between the events in both films. Thankfully, Marvel Comics has got it covered with Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #1, where Shuri is seen explaining to T’Challa the motivations behind her actions.
As it is, she aims to remove the trigger-word brainwashing from Bucky’s brain by “rebooting” it, after doing brain scans, and tests on a digital copy of his mind.
Of course, doing so comes with a reasonable level of risk. In this case, there’s the challenge of not damaging his original personality, but given his current thawed-out condition and interactive sessions with the children, it seems to have been a successful attempt.
That’s not to say that Bucky is safe from psychological trauma, however – after years of being forced to murder people as an assassin, it’s definitely no easy feat to recover from an anguished, tortured mind.
On the other hand, or arm, to be precise, we know that ex-soldier is set to get a new mechanical arm from the Infinity War trailer, probably built out of Wakandan technology (read: Vibranium) by tech genius Shuri herself.
Winter Soldier, the White Wolf?
While interacting with the kids, the term ‘White Wolf’ was brought up; a familiar word for comic readers, and a source of confusion for movie-only fans.
A brief breakdown of the lore shows his identity as the adopted son of T’Challa’s late father, T’Chaka, who shared a jealousy-fuelled relationship with the Black Panther himself. Eventually, he was made head of the Hautut Zeraze (“ha-too-sir-ah-say”, Wakanda’s secret police force), better known as the Dogs of War, with the ‘White Wolf’ alias borne from being the only white man living in Wakanda.
In a way, the tale of Hunter, as is White Wolf’s actual character name, bears similarity to Bucky’s portrayal in the cinematic universe. For one, the latter also had a feud with the King of Wakanda, before both of them ended up on the same side. In fact, it might not be too far of a stretch to say that he’d ultimately wound up as an adopted son of Wakanda, especially since the nation’s people were the first to treat him with kindness after his run as a mind-controlled murderer.
If so, then seeing the Winter Soldier fighting alongside the Avengers in the Infinity War trailer would make sense. The idea is that he stands up to defend his new home, and subsequently decides to stay after the inevitable battle with Thanos. Mind you, it’s all pure speculation at this juncture, though there’s no denying the potential for him to become MCU’s version of the White Wolf.
The reveal of Wakanda’s resources – an act with consequences
A major point of Black Panther is the conflict between preserving the tradition of Wakanda, and the opening up of her hidden status and resources to aid the world at large. Killmonger gave T’Challa a rude awakening, which eventually caused the king to reveal the nation’s technologically-advanced society and resource-rich nature, buried underneath the facade of a third-world country.
The move’s meant to build a better tomorrow for everyone, but of course, there are those lying in the shadows waiting to unleash chaos with Wakanda’s treasures. As such, it’s a fine balancing act between defending Wakanda, and trying to do good for the world – a possible premise for a potential Black Panther sequel.
While the true extent of the nation’s technological capabilities have yet to be unveiled, it appears to be the only place powerful enough to sustain the barrage of attacks from Thanos and his army of aliens.
As it stands, fans can expect a grand, epic battle to take place on Wakandan soil, with great adrenaline thrills to boot.
It’s grown to become common knowledge that post-credits scenes are a mandatory addition to movies set in the MCU. The causal audience may not pay much attention to them, or understand the references and allusions to future titles, but the interest level for these extra tidbits of information has always been present.
The wonder of it all, however, is how a simple scene can contain so much subtlety, and still have their details picked up by the more hardcore members of the community.
Surely, fans of the Black Panther are no exception.