Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has an explanation for one key character’s disappearance in the film.
[Warning: The following contains minor spoilers for Black Panther.]
The majority of Black Panther takes place in Wakanda, making the disappearance of one Bucky “Winter Soldier” Barnes a little confusing. We know that Bucky is living on Wakanda, having been brought to the African nation at the end of Captain America: Civil War, but there’s only a brief allusion to his character. Coogler told Collider that the team thought about bringing Barnes into the fold, but realized he would do more harm than good because of his fragile mental state in that moment.
“Bucky would have horrible PTSD, he would need spiritual guidance,” Coogler said. “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 (laughs). We were aware of that. Bucky’s not trained to neutralize people peacefully, he’s an assassin.”
Barnes wasn’t ignored completely though. Shuri, T’Challa’s brilliant younger sister, jokes about the King of Wakanda bringing her “another white man,” when he appears with Agent Ross in her gadget lab. Barnes even makes an appearance in the final end credits scene, when Shuri goes to check up on him. He thanks her for fixing his brain so he could be woken from stasis, watching as Wakandan children run around.
Although Bucky may be a trained assassin, it seems like he may become one of their biggest assets. Trailers for Avengers: Infinity War, the next Marvel Studios movie, showcase Bucky running alongside the Wakandan army, Hulk, and Captain America through forests as they prepare for their fight of their lives. There’s no question that Bucky is a dangerous fellow, but he might just be the best solider to have on your side, no pun intended.
Black Panther, which broke box office records over its first four days in theaters, is currently playing. Avengers: Infinity War will be released on May 4.