WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for Black Panther, in theaters now.
Every time Marvel Studios introduces a new film into its cinematic universe, moviegoers quickly try to decipher how events in one movie will lay the foundation for future releases. For example, the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier transitioned to Earth's Mightiest Heroes chasing down the last remnants of Hydra in the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Similar connections can be made between the current Marvel film, Black Panther, and May's Avengers: Infinity War. While some clues are very obvious and explicitly called out to the audience, others will require an extra set of eyes and ears to confirm they aren't overlooked. Thankfully, we're here to assist in this endeavor.
Black Panther In Relation To Captain America: Civil War
The opening moments of Black Panther flash back to the 1990s, and a confrontation between King T'Chaka and his brother, N'Jobu. From there, the film heads to the current day, where a news broadcast alerts fans that Black Panther takes place a week after the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War. Helmut Zemo has been captured and is in CIA custody, leaving T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to head back to Wakanda, where he will be crowned as its new king.
This appears to line up with Black Panther bridging the timeline to Infinity War, even more so than Thor: Ragnarok's end-credits scene, in which the Asgardian refugees are confronted by a humongous alien ship. The belief is that the vessel belongs to the Mad Titan Thanos, who is in search of the powerful Infinity Stones.
The Winter Soldier's Deprogramming
Another way Black Panther connects to Infinity War has to do with Bucky Barnes. Civil War's mid-credits scene showed Captain America hiding Bucky in Wakanda, with T'Challa using the highly advanced nation's resources to remove Bucky's Winter Soldier programming. Because a good portion of Black Panther takes place in Wakanda, it only makes sense to check back in with Bucky to see how he's doing.
Marvel Studios made us wait until the end-credits rolled, but we finally got to see a wide-awake Winter Soldier in Black Panther. He's still missing an arm, but a short conversation with T'Challa's younger sister Shuri appears to confirm that his deprogramming was a success. If you weren't aware that Shuri was the one responsible for fixing Bucky, those details can be found in the Infinity War: Prelude comic.
Where's the Soul Stone?
With the Soul Stone as the last remaining Infinity Stone not to make a cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ahead of Infinity War, the thought was the cosmic artifact would play a role in Black Panther. Some theories had the Stone tied to Wakanda's Heart-Shaped Herb, which is responsible for Black Panther's powers. However, that's not the case, as the Soul Stone is nowhere to be found.
Perhaps Black Panther's real contribution to the buildup to Infinity War is how it paints Wakanda as a fully realized setting. Films based in the MCU have grown beyond the busy streets of New York City. Battles now take place in other countries, not to mention the far reaches of space. One of the bigger set pieces in the first Infinity War trailer showed many of the heroes charging into battle against Thanos' forces in Wakanda. As we've finally been introduced to T'Challa's home, it will mean more when we see the country being threatened by invading aliens.
There's also the new status quo, with the long-secretive African nation formally introducing itself -- its true self -- to the world during the mid-credits scene. T'Challa learned a valuable lesson during Black Panther -- his enemies (Erik Killmonger) and his own father taught him that hiding and not sharing your resources with others is a selfish way of thinking. Wakanda has some of the best technology and scientists in the world; why not share it and help make the world a better place? That may very well be a key to Infinity War, especially when Thanos comes knocking with an Infinity Gauntlet on his hand.
In theaters now, director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, Winston Duke as M’Baku and Forest Whitaker as Zuri.
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