Warning: Some Mild Spoilers For Captain America: Civil War are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, please bookmark this page and come back after you've enjoyed the film.
With Bucky literally on ice at the end of Captain America: Civil War, the obviously hot topic left on the table is when and if we'll be seeing Sgt. Barnes make a possibly heroic return. As if on cue, Kevin Feige deployed a bit of a bombshell by stating that it's not a question of if, but when, Bucky makes his return... and it could be during the Black Panther solo film.
As he spoke with the good folks at Empire, Kevin Feige used his time to talk up this past weekend's returning champion, while also setting up the future. Part of that future naturally involves the Wakandan set installment of the Phase 3 canon, and with Bucky being kept in a deep freeze at the jungle stronghold of King T'Challa himself, there's always a possibility for the former baddie turned hero to be released. But don't expect any answers from Feige to that degree, as the following cryptic statement is all the world has to go by:
It... remains to be seen. He’s certainly in stasis there. Where and when he comes out? I’m not sure.
Of course, anyone could have told you that Bucky being frozen in Wakanda would be a point that future Marvel Cinematic Universe films would explore. With Sebastian Stan being signed to a nine picture deal in the MCU, and only two of those pictures being exercised at this point, there are plenty of places that Bucky Barnes could pop up. The two most obvious films would be, naturally, The Avengers: Infinity War – Parts 1 and 2, because the rumored 67 strong hero roster pretty much dictates it. However, since those films aren't going to be released until 2018 and 2019, there's obviously got to be an event that sets up Bucky's return. And what better moment than when his former foe needs the aid of a hero that's not technically on the books?
With Bucky's status as a Buck-cicle preventing his capture, and the events capping off Captain America: Civil War putting him in the debt of T'Challa, the man who is now king of Wakanda, it's not hard to see Black Panther heralding his return. However, the odds of this happening don't seem too large, as there's one crucial factor to keep in mind: Black Panther is being touted with a cast that will be 90% African / African-American actors. Naturally, characters like Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaw and Martin Freeman's Everett Ross have been rumored to fit into the Ryan Coogler directed picture, but with a cast that sounds like it's predominantly made up of Wakandan characters, any potential role for Bucky in the events of Black Panther sounds like it would be a bit of a glorified cameo.
As the importance of the Bucky Barnes character has grown from appearance to appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his resurgence after the events of Captain America: Civil War seems destined to be one of two things: a central moment of another Marvel Studios picture, or a post-credits stinger leading to another Marvel Studios film. The latter wouldn't be a terrible option, as Black Panther is the last solo entry before The Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1, which would be a great time to reunite Steve Rogers and his best friend from Brooklyn. In that respect, seeing Bucky in Black Panther sounds feasible. Other than that, we wouldn't hold our breaths, unless Kevin Feige, Ryan Coogler, or anyone else involved in the project says differently between now and the film's February 16th, 2018 release date.