The 'Black Panther' End-Credits Scenes, Explained by Director Ryan Coogler (Exclusive)
By John Boone
Massive spoilers for 'Black Panther' below.
The ending of Black Panther marks a new beginning, as T'Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) chooses to reveal Wakanda's true identity as a technologically advanced, Afrofuturistic country and establish outposts around the world, starting in Oakland. The two end-credits scenes tease what the future holds for Wakanda and the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large.
The Mid-Credits Scene: King T'Challa arrives in Vienna, Austria, alongside Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) to formally announce to the United Nations that, "For the first time in our history, we will be sharing knowledge and resources with the rest of the world."
Until this point, the rest of the world knew Wakanda as a third world country, prompting the question, "With all due respect, what do farmers have to offer the rest of the world?" T'Challa and CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), who is watching from the crowd, lock eyes and share a knowing smile.
"When people say, 'This film is a political movie,' well, yeah. Black Panther is a politician," director Ryan Coogler explained to ET. "It's the first MCU film about a politician, so it should be the most political one. And if this character has to make a governmental address, what kind of stuff would he say?"
In T'Challa's speech, he speaks about that fact that there is more that connects us all than separates us. "The foolish build barriers," he asserts, "while the wise build bridges." Considering how culturally and politically relevant the entire movie is to this moment, this stinger feels like it is sending a message to the people in the audience -- and maybe even someone in the White House.
"That's an African proverb that my wife found while we were working on it," Coogler said. "We wrote that stuff when Obama was president." Instead, he likens the mid-credits tag to what Jon Favreau did with Iron Man, which is to make the audience think, "Oh man, I wish that dude was really around! -- because the world looks like the real place -- Oh, I wish there was an Iron Man that could jump in a suit and do cool stuff and say cool stuff at press conferences. For us, I found myself looking up to [T'Challa] and aspiring to that."
The End-Credits Scene: A group of young children are gathered in a hut, staring at an unknown someone. As the person wakes, the kids run outside and meet Shuri (Letitia Wright), who asks, "Are you playing around with that man again? You're teasing him again?"
Out from the hut steps a one-armed James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes (Sebastian Stan), having been cryogenically frozen in Wakanda after the events of Captain America: Civil War to avoid another Winter Soldier relapse. The children run off giggling and screaming, "White Wolf!" while Shuri greets him, "Good morning, Sergeant Barnes."
"Bucky," he insists.
"How are you feeling?" she asks.
"Good," Bucky says. "Thank you."
"Come on. There's much more for you to learn," Shuri instructs, as Bucky pauses to stare out at the sunset. This scene directly links Black Panther to the next MCU offering, Avengers: Infinity War -- the trailer for which show Bucky fighting in Wakanda -- but Coogler says he wasn't tasked to include the bit.
"Obviously, it ties in, but the studio didn't force our hand or tell us what the post-credits scene should be," he told Radio Times. "It was something that we were interested in...For us, it was fun because I think the audience, if they’re familiar with the MCU, knows that Bucky is in Wakanda."
As for the connective tissue of how Bucky got here, with his mind right and a man bun, it may be alluded to in the movie -- when Shuri receives "another broken white boy to fix" -- but the answer comes by way of an Infinity War prequel comic, in which Shuri undoes Bucky's HYDRA brainwashing using a... special algorithm. (It's complicated.) What's important is that Bucky is officially a good guy again, just in time for the ultimate big bad to arrive.
"It was kind of a hold-off," Coogler continued. "Our film wasn't about Bucky, obviously, [so] we didn't feel like it would be right to deal with him in this context. But we thought it'd be cool for the fans that stayed 'til the end to check in on this character that they love."
As for the "White Wolf" of it all, well, that's open to speculation. White Wolf isn't just a random nickname, but the name of a longstanding character in the Black Panther comic books: Hunter, orphaned as an infant when both his parents died in a plane crash near Wakanda and, despite being a white foreigner, was adopted and raised by T'Challa's father, T'Chaka. As an adult, Hunter became the leader of Wakanda's ruthless secret police, Hatut Zeraze, before transitioning into mercenary work.
Coogler says he's not thinking about a Black Panther sequel yet, but here's a theory: Someone new will likely inherit the Captain America mantle following the events of Infinity War and Avengers 4. If that person ends up being Falcon (Anthony Mackie), then Bucky is freed up to join the Black Panther canon either as a spy in league with Nakia's War Dogs or an ally to Okoye's Dora Milaje come Phase Four. Either way, we likely won't get any answers until Infinity War arrives on May 4.