In an interview on The Empire Film Podcast, director Ryan Coogler opens up about one Avenger in particular who popped up in the latter Easter egg and explained why he was missing from the movie’s main story.
WARNING: And for those who have yet to see the blockbuster phenomenon, here’s your spoiler alert!
The second post-credits scene starts with a bunch of Wakandan kids staring at the screen and then run out of a hut as the audience realizes they’re seeing the kids from the first-person point of view of someone who’s just woken up.
Cut to T’Challa’s tech-savvy sister, Shuri, standing along a lake and the mystery man in question walks out of the hut and is revealed as none other than Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), aka the Winter Soldier. Marvel fans, of course, will recall that Barnes was granted asylum in Wakanda at the end of Captain America: Civil War and opted for a cryogenic sleep until the country’s scientists could find a cure for Hydra’s brainwashing.
As it happens, it’s Shuri who has healed Bucky’s mind — a fact she hinted at earlier in the movie when T’Challa brings her Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), who took a bullet to save Lupita Nyong’o’s character Nakita and Black Panther commands her to fix him. Looking at the injured Ross, Shuri cracks in reply, “Another broken white boy to fix.”
So when he comes out of the hut, she calls him the White Wolf. He replies with his real name and she tells him he’s in Wakanda and there’s more to learn now that he’s his old non-killing machine self again.
As for why Coogler chose to go this route, the filmmaker told Empire it was always intended to be a “Shuri thing.”
“In our world, we kind of figured that Bucky Barnes would be her assignment,” the helmer said. “We kind of drop the hint at that when they bring Ross in and she’s like, ‘Oh another one.’ So, we dropped hints in there, but what we kind of decided was that her cracking his mental code, if Shuri’s as smart as she is, that wouldn’t really be a big problem.”
But he acknowledged that weaving Bucky into Black Panther’s plot would have been tricky to say the least.
“But Bucky would have horrible PTSD, he would need spiritual guidance. The last thing he would need to do is jump into that civil war, and so that was kind of the thought process there. And it could be potentially problematic if it’s a bunch of Africans fighting and you bring in a white dude, he comes in shootin’ people,” Coogler said with a laugh. “We were aware of that. Bucky’s not trained to neutralize people peacefully, he’s an assassin. We were like, ‘I don’t know if we can do that.’ ”
As for the White Wolf, that’s a reference to a character in the Black Panther comics — a white boy adopted by T’Challa who grows up in Wakanda to head the kingdom’s special forces unit. Whether or not the big-screen Bucky Barnes will assume that role remains a mystery. And we’ll just have to wait for the May 4 opening of Avengers: Infinity War to find out.