Along with everything else that took place in this week’s episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, “The Star-Spangled Man,” we were also reminded of Bucky Barnes’ Marvel Cinematic Universe identity as the White Wolf.
In the post-credits scene of Black Panther, and then later in Avengers: Infinity War, we learned that the Wakandans had begun to refer to Sebastian Stan’s peaceful, healing Bucky Barnes as White Wolf. In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Sam jokingly referred to the Super Soldier as White Panther, and Bucky corrected him and said, “It’s actually White Wolf.”
As most things big and small in the MCU tend to inspire fans to look back at comics for information, it’s important to note that the White Wolf is an entirely different person in the comic universe. The White Wolf began as a boy named Hunter whose parents died in a place crash in Wakanda, and he grew up to be the adopted white older brother of T’Challa. His love for Wakanda clashed with his jealousy for T’Challa’s rights to the throne.
Bucky’s MCU story shares minimal similarities with that of Hunter the White Wolf. His ties to Wakanda were illustrated as a casual, calm reprieve rather than someone attempting to put down permanent roots, so it’s doubtful that we’ll see anything of Hunter’s White Wolf in him.
That being said, it feels meaningful that the moniker was mentioned at all years later in this new series, especially considering the serious way in which Bucky acknowledged it. Along with the action-packed missions, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is also very much meant to serve as a deep-dive into the further character development and exploration of Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson. While the show has begun to peel back the layers on Sam’s back story and his struggle to accept the shield, Bucky continues to be haunted by his past wrongdoings as the brainwashed assassin the Winter Soldier.
Though Bucky went through much of this same struggle to repent and move on in the comics, even taking on the Captain America mantle for a stretch of time, he has remained the Winter Soldier. So this begs the question, will MCU Bucky retain his alias as the Winter Soldier, too, when the events of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier come to a close? Or will one of the steps in his healing process be to perhaps shed his past completely and adopt a new mantle that he can associate with a time in his life where he finally felt peace after years of battles and bloodshed?
We’re already set up for Sam Wilson to potentially step into his comic role as Captain America, and his Air Force friend Joaquín Torres may be on his way to becoming the next Falcon, so bring on Bucky Barnes as White Wolf.
The next episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will land exclusively on Disney+ Friday, April 2. Stay tuned for our continued weekly episodic recaps, reviews, and theories!