The ending of Black Panther explained

Marvel's Black Panther has made its theatrical debut, and moviegoers couldn't be more excited. As one of the MCU's few superheroes not played by a dude named Chris, the Black Panther is a powerful new addition to Marvel's franchise roster, and he brings an entire country of awesome sci-fi tech and culture with him. But now that the credits have rolled and your vibranium suit has released all of its kinetic energy, there's still something we gotta talk about: that ending. While the plot wrapped up without much in the way of loose ends, there are still plenty of questions we can ask about what it all means.

Sharpen your talons and hop on the train: now's when we give the ending a good ol' explain. Spoilers ahead, of course.

What's next for Wakanda?

Killmonger's insurrection highlighted some sharp divisions among the four united tribes of Wakanda — the Border Tribe played a particularly nasty role in supporting Killmonger's plan to send vibranium weapons all over the world. The end of the film saw W'Kabi surrender to Okoye after a battle between the Border Tribe, the Mountain Tribe, and Okoye's Dora Milaje warriors. Peace is restored to Wakanda, right? Or is it?

We know that the King of Wakanda is the absolute monarch of the country, since Killmonger was able to completely reverse the nation's isolationist policies with the snap of a finger. But even with an absolute monarchy, the people being governed still need to be cool with the person in charge. Now that the Border Tribe openly has rebelled against T'Challa, what's their status within the country itself? And since M'Baku and the Mountain Tribe came to T'Challa's rescue, does that mean they'll be involved in running the country going forward? While we don't know any of the answers to these questions now, it seems that the political intrigue going on within Wakanda's borders has only just begun.

Wakanda and the world

At the end of the movie, T'Challa decides to open his nation up to the world after centuries of isolation. It's a logical decision considering the consequences of his father's decision to leave young Erik Stevens, who grows up to become the usurper Killmonger, in Oakland. By sharing its technology and science with the rest of the globe, Wakanda will undoubtedly have a major effect on, well, everything. Will we see those effects take place in some way in future MCU movies? Or would that move the cinematic universe a little too far from our own to still be relatable? It'll be interesting to see how — or if — other MCU movies decide to tackle this new continuity wrinkle. Though there is one probable application of this new super-science…

Marvelous medicine

When Agent Everett Ross took a bullet for Nakia, he severely injured his spine. But after spending one night in Wakanda and receiving medical treatment, he was fully healed. You know what that probably means: James Rhodes, better known as War Machine, may be paying a visit to Shuri's lab to get his own spine fixed up after he was shot with a laser beam and slammed into the ground in Captain America: Civil War. We already know Shuri's hard at work at rehabilitating Bucky. Why wouldn't Rhodey get the same treatment? We've seen the War Machine armor in action in Wakanda during the trailer for Infinity War, so it's a good bet that Rhodes will be up and at 'em by the time that movie drops, all thanks to that wacky Wakandan health care system.

A vibranium arsenal in the offing

We've known about that miraculous metal vibranium since Steve Rogers first got his shield in Captain America: The First Avenger. But outside of having a cool name and being pretty tough, we haven't known much about what the stuff can actually do — until now. Killmonger's plan to send powerful weapons to agents all over the world may have been a pretty mean plan for world domination, but it also gave us our first glimpse into how powerful Wakanda's weapons can be. That means when Thanos and his horde of alien super-jerks show up on Earth in Infinity War, humanity will have a fighting chance thanks to King T'Challa and his army.

Splitting heirs

The closing scenes of the film offered a parallel to the movie's opening — we see young kids in Oakland playing basketball, and everything seems a lot more significant to one kid in particular. While it'd be a stretch to point at the kid in the final scene and speculate about who he might be, it's certainly fair to wonder whether there are any other lost Wakandan royals in America. Killmonger managed to stay under the radar for years after T'Chaka left him in Oakland, so it's entirely possible there are at least a few Kidmongers running around out there, ready to challenge T'Challa for the throne. At the end of the day, we still only saw a sliver of Wakanda, its culture, and its people. Needless to say, there's plenty of potential for more political and family intrigue down the road.

Coming to America

In addition to starting the super-tech exchange in Oakland, we see T'Challa spending some time in Oakland at the movie's end. Surely with his newfound appreciation for helping others outside of Wakanda's borders, we can expect to see the Black Panther spend some time fighting bad guys in the United States, right? It's entirely possible that Black Panther 2 might show T'Challa's quest to understand the rest of the world now that he's ready to make Wakanda a member of the international community. And if Wakanda is looking to influence other countries, it goes without saying that some of that influence will come back the other way. Sure, Wakanda has amazing magnetic trains, video-chat bracelets, and super-sneakers…but just wait 'til they try Dippin' Dots! Wakanda will never be the same.

The future of the MCU

Above all else, the end of Black Panther shows that Marvel can find a way to stick superheroes into just about any story you can imagine. We've already seen a super-powered heist in Ant-Man, and a superhero spy story in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while Thor: Ragnarok was basically a…well…look, it's not really clear what the hell Thor Ragnarok was, but it was really, really funny and weird. Black Panther is many things — an Afrofuturist sci-fi epic, a Shakespearean family drama, a poignant commentary on racial divisions and colonization — but it's also an engaging and engrossing adventure that takes conventional movie wisdom and chucks it out the window.

Considering how homogeneous and by-the-numbers some of the MCU's previous movies have been, Black Panther took a ton of risks — and still managed to wow critics and audiences alike. Marvel's decision to finally buck the trend of making movies starring "dudes named Chris" means this is just the beginning. Don't be surprised if it isn't long before we see even more characters pulled from Marvel Comics' deep roster of heroes hailing from different backgrounds and origins. And that all raises one very important question: just how long do we have to wait to see Kamala Khan get her own movie?