There are two credits scenes at the end of Marvel’s Black Panther. Both scenes, but especially the second one, relate to the studio’s forthcoming team-up film Avengers: Infinity War, which is slated to hit theaters in May.
Over the last several years, mid- and post-credits scenes have become a Marvel tradition, something fans look forward to every time the studio puts out a new release. Sometimes they contain huge reveals that hint at future movies (see: Thanos intercepting Thor’s Asgardian spaceship at the end of Thor: Ragnarok).
Other times, they serve as little winks from Marvel to its biggest fans, or call back to the company’s history (see: Howard the Duck dropping by at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, or Captain America musing on the virtue of patience at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming as if to imply that post-credits scenes won’t always feature big reveals). They’re fun. They can be exciting. And sometimes they give us something to chew on until Marvel’s next big thing.
Here’s what happens in Black Panther’s two credits scenes — spoilers follow! — and what each one might mean.
1) T’Challa tells the United Nations he’s ready to reveal the truth about Wakanda to the world
In Black Panther’s first mid-credits scene, T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia are visiting the United Nations, and T’Challa tells the assembled delegation that he wants to share Wakanda’s advancements in technology with the world. He also says he no longer wants Wakanda to be an isolationist country. Before the scene concludes, an unnamed character condescendingly asks what Wakanda really has to offer to the rest of the world. T’Challa just smirks in response.
What it means:
Throughout Black Panther, we’re reminded in various ways that most people believe Wakanda to be a poor, third-world nation. But the reality is that it’s the most technologically advanced country on Earth, with all kinds of weaponry, science, and tech that far surpass what other countries have.
T’Challa promising to reveal Wakanda’s unrivaled capabilities and power seems to put Wakanda in an extremely important position going into Avengers: Infinity War. The idea is that, when Thanos shows up to wreak havoc on Earth, the fate of the planet will ultimately depend on the efforts of its mightiest country: Wakanda.
2) Shuri wakes up Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, and introduces him to Wakanda
Black Panther’s post-credits scene opens with a few kids staring right at us. It’s filmed from a first-person point of view, but we won’t find out whose eyes we’re looking through until later in the scene. The person is just waking up, and these kids are the first things they see. We watch through this mystery person’s eyes as the kids run out of the room.
Then the camera quickly shifts from the first-person point of view to a wide shot of T’Challa’s sister Shuri, standing outside by a lake. The kids we just saw come running out of a house to greet Shuri. Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, follows them out — we were seeing his point of view all along — and introduces himself. She informs him that he’s in Wakanda, and the scene cuts away as they set out together, presumably so she can teach him about the country.
What it means:
This scene is actually a major callback to one of the credits scenes from Captain America: Civil War. In that scene, T’Challa promised to take care of Bucky and rehabilitate him after Bucky had his metal arm shot off. Bucky told Cap that until they figured out how to counteract the brainwashing he’d been exposed to, putting him into some sort of hibernation or stasis pod was the best way forward.
The Black Panther credits scene suggests that Shuri — the genius behind all of Wakanda’s most impressive technological advancements — has since figured out how to fix Bucky’s brainwashing. In the movie, we see Shuri heal bullet wounds in a matter of a few days, so removing Cold War brainwashing seems like something that she’s fully capable of.
The scene also functions as a preview of Avengers: Infinity War and hints at a new mystery. As the first trailer for Infinity War revealed, Captain America, Bucky, Falcon, and Black Widow are all in Wakanda, but it’s still not entirely clear why.
Originally, the Captain America credits scene had made it seem like Cap was leaving Bucky in Wakanda for treatment, then heading somewhere else. But it’s explained in Black Panther that Wakanda is capable of concealing itself from the outside world. So the Black Panther credits scene suggests that, since Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow are on the run from the US government and probably the UN as well, they might have found a prime hiding place in the one country on Earth that can make itself invisible.