I have to say this: you guys are incredible, and your response to The Ghost in the Machine was borderline phenomenal. I got several responses asking for a follow-up post, so I could cover all the extra little bases I left out in the first. Finally, I caved – I think it was a result of listening to Bastille’s Bad Blood and David Guetta’s Titanium too many times in a row.
1. We watched Captain America: The First Avenger again about a week ago, and naturally I was watching Bucky very closely; this being the first time I’d seen it since watching The Winter Soldier. Pushing all the feels aside and watching it from a more analytical point of view, I was – like I always am – amazed at the way Marvel writers weave things together. Things like –
2. Here’s another interesting thing. I mentioned Bucky muttering his serial number when Steve rescues him from headquarters, but there’s a catch. Bucky’s serial number was 32557. Technically, since he was from New York, if he had enlisted, his serial number should have been 12557. The number 32 was assigned to someone who was drafted. Bucky tells Steve that he enlisted, that he was shipping out with the 107th, and this tells us a lot about his character. Here we have someone enjoying the best years of his life, perfectly content to flirt with girls and dig Steve out of trouble time and time again, but reluctant to go to war. Yet he’s seen his best friend try and enlist – and get rejected – half a dozen times, and he can’t bring himself to tell him. Bucky is afraid of war, and he’s even more afraid that Steve will think badly of him.
But Bucky isn’t afraid of fighting – this is made evident by all the times he gets into fights to save Steve. So the only plausible explanation is that he’s afraid of the fact he likes it. Someone once said ‘we become what we fear,’ and in Bucky’s case, this was all too true, in the long run. Icarus flew too high and was forced to watch his feathers burn, turning him into a (figurative, then literal) war machine.
HYDRA turned him into a weapon, trapped him inside his own body, and unraveled his mind – but they forgot about his heart.
3. After Steve rescued Bucky from Austria, we can painfully see that, for Bucky, the world he knew has ended – in more ways than one. He’s not the same person, but worse – neither is Steve. For all those years, since they were scrappy teenagers, Steve was Bucky’s anchor. Now that Steve is Steve 2.0, bigger and better, Bucky’s purpose in life – watch Steve’s back – is gone. This was amplified when he became the Winter Soldier, as HYDRA gave him a purpose. His need for someone to protect was turned on its head, which factored into making him the perfect soldier.
“The way Bucky was written in the earlier comic books is very different than how we decided to go with in the movie. One thing that particularly really drew me to, what I was able to find out about Bucky, as a character, is that he ended up doing the dirty work I think that added a very interesting dynamic between his relationship with Steve Rogers. Captain America was always kinda like the symbol and the guy that kind of walked away with the spotlight. And Bucky was trained to do sort of the stuff around the edges. And I really liked that because I thought it added a different edge to him.” – Sebastian Stan
4. The Winter Soldier was credited with twenty-five missions over the course of seventy-three years, but he already knew how to fight when he went under HYDRA’s knife. Steve knew how to fight before he became Captain America – he just didn’t have the physical ability to fight and win. The fight scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier really stuck out to me because they both have very different fighting styles – Steve uses three different styles in the movie while Bucky plows through things with complete disregard for personal safety – and yet. And yet. There were several moments where they were so evenly matched that they were almost mirroring each other; like they were inside each other’s heads. They know what the other person is going to do before they do it.
Why? Because Bucky is the one who, so long ago, taught Steve how to defend himself. When it comes to blows between them, the fancy fighting stiles fly out the window and they revert to basic, Brooklyn brawling – fists up, use your strength, anticipate. Things Bucky would have taught Steve, back when they were boys.
(NOTE: This is more of a conspiracy theory then anything else, BUT. The Winter Soldier’s arm comes in contact with the shield pretty often. He catches it, blocks it when it’s thrown, and even punches it – without any kind of blowback. Back when he gave the shield to Steve, Howard Stark said it was ‘completely shock absorbent’ – also, the only vibranium in the world. I can’t help but wonder whether HYDRA found some more to make Bucky’s arm with…because really, it’s the only thing that makes sense.)
5. And one last thing, that struck me so hard I had to make a graphic for it.
The opening and closing lines of Captain America: The Winter Soldier are three words – “On your left.” Look who’s always on Steve’s left in The First Avenger. Bucky Barnes.
On your left, Steve. Always on your left.