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Falcon And The Winter Soldier's Ending Explains Bucky's Absence In Wakanda Forever

The funeral scene at the beginning of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is a tour-de-force of cinematic beauty. The entire country of Wakanda coming out to mourn the loss of their king while simultaneously celebrating his life was incredibly moving and visually stunning. The slow-motion shots with Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Shuri's (Letitia Wright) emotional breakdown over her brother's casket helped drive home just how profound the loss of T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) really was.

Yet, some viewers in the audience watched that moving scene and pondered an odd question: where is Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan)?

Apparently, some fans (like /u/ChristopherCaulk) were angry that Bucky wasn't invited, arguing that it "makes sense he'd show up to pay tribute to the man that helped him." So where is Bucky, and why wasn't he at the funeral? Well, the last time Marvel fans saw Barnes, the White Wolf of Wakanda, was in the Disney+ mini-series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." The limited series explores Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), AKA Falcon, as he struggles to accept the mantle of Captain America which Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) had bestowed upon him. Bucky is by Sam's side fighting the bad guys over the course of six episodes, but in the end, he makes a questionable choice in order to take down a terrorist organization. That choice ruffles some feathers among his friends from Wakanda and provides an entirely logical explanation for why he wasn't present at T'Challa's funeral.

Ayo ordered Bucky to stay away from Wakanda

During the course of the series, a terrorist group called the Flag Smashers rears its ugly head — and it's up to Sam and Bucky to take them down. Bucky believes that a former associate of his, the villain Marvel fans know as Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), might have information on the terrorist group. In order to get Zemo to help them eliminate the terrorists, Bucky secretly helps him escape from prison. But this causes conflict between Bucky and his friends in Wakanda because Zemo is serving time for orchestrating the bombing which killed King T'Chaka at the United Nations.

Ayo (Florence Kasumba) brings a small band of her fellow Dora Milaje warriors to hunt Zemo down. She has an angry confrontation with Bucky at the beginning of Episode 4, "The Whole World is Watching," where she reminds him of everything they did for him in Wakanda. She gives him a justifiably angry lecture about how much his betrayal has hurt the Wakandans. Despite her anger, she reluctantly agrees to give Bucky time with Zemo to track down the terrorists. Near the end of Episode 5, "Truth," when Bucky turns Zemo back over to The Dora Milaje, Ayo gives him a stern look and, in not so many words, warns him not to return to Wakanda anytime soon.

There are many other reasons why it wouldn't make sense for Bucky to be there -- and most fans are okay with that

Wakanda has had a strict isolationist policy for almost all human existence up until the rule of King T'Challa. Even during that early scene in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" at the UN, Queen Ramonda is still reluctant to trade vibranium with other nations. So even if Bucky hadn't soured his relationship with the Wakandan people by borrowing a regicidal terrorist without asking permission, it would have been strange for him to be extended an invitation to a very private funeral ceremony.

For the most part, fans were very understanding about why the Wakandans decided to keep T'Challa's funeral to themselves. /u/preppytarg had a couple of particularly good takes, arguing that "Servicing characters that are central to the movie is infinitely [more] important than servicing characters who would only be in the movie for 30 seconds." /u/Rommas also pointed out how much of a logistical nightmare it would be in the real world, noting that "If it was [sic] a comic then you'd think for sure some Avengers would be in the background somewhere, but for a less than a minute segment of a movie with actors and schedules...probably not," to which /u/Afwife1992 agreed. They posited that it would take focus away from honoring T'Challa and expressing the grief that his family and his country were feeling.