Black Panther Reveals Bucky's MCU Future - And It's Not Captain America

White Wolf Black Panther

Who Is Marvel’s White Wolf?

Introduced in 1999, White Wolf is the persona adopted by a Hunter, a white child who survived a plane crash in Wakanda and was granted citizenship by King T'Chaka. He was taken under the wing of King T'Chaka and thought he would assume the throne after the king, until T'Challa was conceived and became the rightful heir. This lead to a great deal of resentment on Hunter's part toward T'Challa. Hunter grew up and was appointed as the leader of the Hatut Zeraze, Wakanda's secret police, by King T'Chaka and he took on the name of White Wolf. However, when T'Challa became king, he disbanded the Hatut Zeraze for their brutal tactics and they, along with Hunter, left Wakanda to become mercenaries.

Related: Black Panther Defends The Marvel Formula

Based on an early casting call for Black Panther, we thought White Wolf would appear in the film. Certainly, as a character who grew up alongside T'Challa, it would make sense for White Wolf to appear in Black Panther, but now that the movie is out, we know that's not the case. Instead, it appears Hunter won't be introduced to the MCU at all. If Marvel Studios were going to introduce the character, he would have had to appear in Black Panther. Instead, Marvel changed Michael B. Jordan's character Erik Killmonger from the comics so that his arc loosely resembles White Wolf. That leaves Marvel Studios the room to adapt the persona of White Wolf for a different established character: Bucky Barnes.

What Does Bucky Being White Wolf Mean For His MCU Future?

If Bucky takes on the mantle of White Wolf, after recovering from the brainwashing that made him the Winter Soldier, the most obvious consequence is that it means Bucky won't become Captain America. Of course, many Marvel fans assumed Bucky actor Sebastian Stan would one day pick up the mantle of Captain America at some point in the MCU. The Winter Soldier even featured a moment when Bucky held Steve's shield that seemed to be obvious foreshadowing for Stan to one day suit up as Captain America. Plus, the fact that Marvel Studios has Stan contracted for more movies than Evans seemed to be another obvious indicator outside of the MCU proper.

However, the introduction of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in The Winter Soldier complicated the debate about the future of Captain America in the MCU. In the same year Marvel Studios released Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel Comics announced Sam Wilson would take up the mantle of Captain America. Ever since, fans have discussed whether Bucky or Sam would become Captain America in the MCU after Evans' Steve Rogers either dies or lays down his shield in Avengers 4.

Related: Where The Hell Is The Soul Stone?

We've already seen Steve Rogers move away from the Captain America mantle in promotional material for Avengers: Infinity War. He left his shield with Tony Stark in Civil War, and Steve has removed the patriotic insignias on his Captain America costume - plus, Evans is sporting a much-talked about beard in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, a departure from his classic, clean-shaven appearance. With Steve seemingly getting a change in persona from Captain America to Nomad, it would make sense for Bucky to additionally shirk his Winter Soldier mantle for something new - and it seems that new persona is White Wolf.

While that indicates Bucky won't become Captain America - leaving the mantle free for Sam Wilson to assume - it also hints he'll have ties to Wakanda in future movies. Though we don't know what Marvel Studios has planned after Avengers 4 hits theaters next year, it's thought Black Panther will play a big role and lead his own standalone franchise. As such, perhaps Stan's Bucky Barnes will shift from a supporting player in the Captain America series to become an ally of T'Challa's in a Black Panther series.

What exactly that would mean for Bucky's future arc is unclear. Since Bucky didn't grow up with T'Challa like Hunter did in the comics, it seems incredibly unlikely the films would explore a rivalry between White Wolf and Black Panther - especially since Bucky's arc has so far been a path to redemption. There are a number of ways that Marvel could create a storyline featuring the Hatut Zeraze and Bucky as White Wolf in a Black Panther sequel, either with T'Challa establishing a less brutal version of the secret police force, one that works around the world, or with T'Challa learning of the Hatut Zeraze established by his father and sending Bucky to infiltrate and disband it.

Based on Bucky's character arc up to the point of Black Panther, Marvel turned him into a villain, then began his recovery and redemption. But, his future was left open and unclear when Sam Wilson became the frontrunner to take up the mantle of Captain America. Now in Black Panther, Marvel has established a new path for Bucky Barnes as White Wolf.

Next: Civil War’s Ending Doesn’t Fit In The MCU Timeline After Black Panther

Key Release Dates
  • Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
Indiana Jones 5 Was Supposed To Release Today: Here's Why It’s Been Delayed

More in SR Originals