**Spoilers for BLACK PANTHER below**
Fans of the MCU likely went into BLACK PANTHER wondering if there would be any scenes with the reformed assassin, Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). The mid-credits scene of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR saw Barnes being frozen at the labs in Wakanda, where we assume he is during the events of PANTHER. The movie never involves Barnes during the course of the film, and director Ryan Coogler has a few very good reasons why.
While Coogler and PANTHER producer Nate Moore were talking with The Empire Podcast (transcription via Collider), the director said that the mission was always to make Barnes the project of tech genius Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is tasked with getting into Barnes’ head to try and fix him.
That was something that was always—it was a Shuri thing, because in our world we kind of figured that Bucky Barnes would be her assignment. 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.
That certainly makes sense given how Shuri is probably the only one with the know-how to get Barnes back to normal. However, Coogler gives a pretty funny reason as to why Barnes’ presence in the main story would only make things worse.
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 (laughs). 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…’” (laughs)
Even if the actual timeline of events remains a bit cloudy in PANTHER, fans hoping to see Barnes didn’t leave completely disappointed. Anyone who stayed for the end-credit teasers saw a scene that brought him back for a brief moment, one that finds him in a peaceful, remote location where Shuri greets him, acting like a sort of Sherpa through his spiritual rebirth.
As much as I want to see more Bucky, there really wasn't a place for him in BLACK PANTHER. There was so much more to introduce, like Wakanda and the big cast, and throwing him in would just clutter things. All we needed was a little credits tease, and that's what we got. It answers a few questions and shows where he will be at mentally come INFINITY WAR. As we saw in the trailer, Barnes is at the head of the pack as the Wakandan army preps to fight Thanos' alien army, so we know that even after some meditation by the lake he's still ready to kick some ass.
Catch Bucky Barnes and T'Challa again in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR on May 4.