Where do I even begin with this one? I’m a big film enthusiast, in case you haven’t noticed, and I have a particular love of Marvel films. Who doesn’t? (Well, about 70% of DC fans, but that’s a rant for another day). And what I, as a Marvel fan, still cannot quite comprehend is that some people consider James Buchanan Barnes to be a villain. A villain. A villain like Red Skull or Ultron or bloody Thanos. So what I’m going to do is lay out a perfectly reasoned argument as to why Bucky is clearly NOT a villain without so much as even mentioning my love for Sebastian Stan or using the words “tiny bean.” Be warned: major Marvel spoilers ahead!
Exhibit A: Captain America 1. The First Avenger. It’s fair to assume that many gained a crush on 1940s Bucky and were more than taken in by his relationship with Steve (see, “Stucky”). And, what’s more, there was clearly nothing villainous about the guy. At all. He was just a soldier doing his job. A soldier who seemingly lost his life trying to help his best friend. Marvel must have anticipated the success and the eventual demand for more Captain America films, and that leads me to believe that they set Bucky’s character up in this way for a reason; so that when he did appear again as the Winter Soldier, we wouldn’t blame him. Yeah, the Winter Soldier is angry and scary and could 100% kill you without thinking twice about it, but Bucky is not the Winter Soldier, not really. The Winter Soldier is something that is programmed into him, only to be awoken when someone says those god-damn trigger words.
Basically, all I’m trying to say is that it’s so, so easy to differentiate Bucky from the Winter Soldier. Yeah, Sebastian Stan plays them both (expertly, may I add), but that’s about all they’ve got in common. It’s just something that takes over his brain that he can’t control. And this is what so, so many people forgot when it came to Civil War. I get it, he was set up to look like a mastermind criminal who killed T’challa’s father and so many others, but, a) it was Zemo who killed all those people (well, in Civil War anyway, I can’t speak for CA: TWS) and, b) it kinda sucks that the rest of the Avengers, minus Sam, Wanda, Clint and Scott, didn’t trust Steve enough to believe that Bucky wasn’t a bad person. I mean, if you don’t trust Bucky, at least trust the star-spangled man with a plan. Now, T’challa I understood. It seemed pretty clear that Bucky had been the one to kill T’Chaka, so I kinda of got where his anger was coming from (even though, Bucky was all winter-soldier’ed up at that point). Tony I could not understand at all. Steve forgave him for creating a murderbot in Age of Ultron, why was it so hard for Tony to even consider that Bucky isn’t a bad guy? I mean, I was mad at Natasha, but at least she let them get away.
Anyway, I went off on a massive tangent then, this isn’t supposed to be about Civil War. Although I must just mention that ending sequence when Tony discovers that the Winter Soldier was the one responsible for his parents’ death. I mean, even I didn’t know what side to take at that point. Obviously, I stay loyal to Team Cap (or Team Protect Bucky Barnes at all costs), but I definitely understood Tony in wanting to kill Bucky at that moment. And it was really actually quite hard to then watch Steve and Bucky affectively beat Tony into an early grave, given that he’d actually watched his parents die just moments before. But hey, at least Zemo got what he wanted, right?
Basically. All I’m saying is if you think of Bucky and the Winter Soldier as two completely different characters, which, honestly, is really helped by the fact that he completely forgets who he even if when he’s brainwashed, you’ll be well away and I won’t have to fight you. He may look like some scary-ass super soldier who could end your life in the blink of an eye, but in reality, 1940s Bucky is still somewhere in there, and he would still do anything to protect Steve. To protect anyone, for that matter. That’s why he goes back into the ice at the end, right? Because everyone is better off if he’s not at risk of being triggered again. Everything he does towards the end of Civil War, he does to help everyone else. And on that note, I’ll finish. Here’s my final thought: just remember all Bucky wanted that day was some plums and instead he got ambushed by a grown man in a cat suit.
P.S. 90% of this rant stemmed from the fact that Sebastian Stan is a small child who means the world to me and must be protected and defended at all costs.