Despite its impressively vast cast, each character in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) had a compelling arc and just enough screen time. There are always standout stars however, and one of these was definitely Black Panther. As Marvel's first black superhero, T'Challa carries the weight of years of fan expectations, and his debut in Civil War definitely did the character justice.
T'Challa's role in the movie was one of the most moving, as he progressed from grief-stricken vengeance to calm wisdom. The post-credits sequence set up the Black Panther solo movie beautifully, complete with a twist for everyone's favorite brainwashed assassin.
Marvel has not yet confirmed whether Bucky Barnes will appear in Black Panther Movie (2018), but considering Sebastian Stan is reportedly contracted for many more movies yet, it's a good bet that this might be the film in which we finally get to see the Winter Soldier become a hero.
From Sidekick To Villain, To Hero?
James Buchanen Barnes is one of the most unexpectedly interesting characters in the MCU (perhaps despite his ridiculous name). First appearing in The First Avenger, Bucky's role was mainly that of Steve's friend, a character perpetually stuck in Cap's shadow. Bucky has always been a crucial part of the solo Captain America movies, providing a connection to Steve's past.
His role has been so far steeped in tragedy: Even before he was brainwashed into becoming Hydra's weapon, Bucky was captured along with the rest of the 107th and experimented on extensively.
Civil War finally saw Bucky attempt to take his life back, albeit in hiding. But of course, he's soon dragged back into the action, brutally triggered by Zemo and once again turned into the weapon he was trying so hard not to be. Although we didn't get to see a lot of Bucky's personal development in Civil War, this film definitely marked a turning point for him. And ultimately, his decision to go into stasis was his most heroic action in decades.
So, this is where we find Bucky at Civil War's conclusion: frozen yet again — this time under the care of T'Challa in Wakanda. Which puts Bucky in a very interesting situation as the MCU moves forward.
Passing The Buck
The relationship between T'Challa and Bucky is an interesting one in Civil War. When his father is killed in an attack on a diplomatic summit, T'Challa vengefully pursues the person he believes is responsible for this crime: one Bucky Barnes.
Of all the characters on Team Iron Man, Black Panther is the only one fighting to kill, though ultimately he is denied his vengeance on Bucky by Natasha, who unexpectedly acts to protect Bucky and Cap from T'Challa, allowing their escape. But although he pursues them, T'Challa is not involved in the final fight between Cap, Iron Man, and Bucky. Instead, he apprehends Zemo and learns how the villain used Bucky against his will, framing him for the bombing.
By the end of the film, T'Challa has set aside his anger. Because Bucky is a fugitive from many governments around the world, T'Challa offers the ex-assassin sanctuary in Wakanda, in a gesture of forgiveness.
So, what does this mean for Black Panther? It seems probable that Bucky will be part of the story, helping T'Challa with whatever conflict arises as part of the plot. This would be a crucial stage in Bucky's story, as it would mark the first time this character appears in a movie that isn't part of the Captain America trilogy. Bucky would have the chance to act as a hero, or not, as he chooses. And this could be the first step toward the Winter Soldier finally becoming an Avenger.
And yet, that's not to say that Bucky should overshadow T'Challa in his own movie. Black Panther is hugely important in MCU history, and there are many fan hopes riding on this symbol of representation.
T'Challa deserves to have a film in which he is the star, but Bucky's role in the film is important too, not just because this offers Bucky a chance for character development, but also in regard to the wider MCU story. Taking place in between the two halves of Infinity War, Black Panther will establish some key plot points before the final part of Avengers 3.
By involving Bucky in the film, Marvel could ensure that Black Panther isn't just another standalone, but a vital part of the overarching story. And we can't wait to see how it all comes together.