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Spoiler Warning! The following article contains spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you haven't seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet and wish to not have any of the movie ruined for yourself, I recommend clicking on another one of our fantastic other stories!
While Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier is certainly a complete, three-act structured film, that doesn't mean it doesn't leave a couple of loose threads dangling. For example, the movie's two titular characters have an epic showdown on a crashing helicarrier, but the end doesn't exactly feature the two of them hugging it out and reminiscing about old times. Instead, the movie featured Cap and The Winter Soldier a.k.a. Bucky going separate ways, with the former deciding to team up with Falcon to go on a mission and find the latter. This was pretty obviously a set-up for the already announced Captain America 3, but only now have the film's directors finally revealed that the story will be at least partially geared in that direction.
This bit of information was leaked out to by the Russo brothers to Movies.com, which grabbed a quote confirming that The Winter Soldier will be back for Captain America 3. While the filmmakers couldn't say much about the in-development sequel (which isn't exactly a shock), they did reveal that they just received a new "incredible" draft of the script from screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and that the very important character conflict between Cap and Bucky will return in the sequel. Acknowledging that a period has yet to be put at the end of Captain America and The Winter Soldier's sentence together, Anthony Russo explained,
"Thinking about where that relationship can go is a piece of the puzzle for us for sure. That character is a wonderfully, beautifully tragic figure in the sense of is he the world's most feared assassin or is he the world's longest serving POW. Is he innocent by reason of insanity or the equivalent of it because he's been mind controlled or is he irredeemable? Is he ever going to be acceptable to Cap again as the friend that he used to be before he was the Winter Soldier? These are very philosophical, emotional questions that pique our interest and definitely form one layer of the next movie."
It's certainly nice to now have confirmation from the Russos that Bucky Barnes will play a key role in Captain America 3, but it's also not that much of a surprise. Back in April, actor Sebastian Stan shocked the collective comic book movie fan world when he revealed that he has a nine-picture deal with Marvel Studios, and at that time most of us assumed that the third film in that deal would be Captain America 3. Beyond that, there have also been some hints that Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes could eventually replace Chris Evans' Steve Rogers as Captain America, which is an arc that plays out in the comics following Steve Rogers' death.
All that on the table, another big question that remains is exactly how the subject will be handled in Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is Steve just going to forget about Bucky when it comes time to team up with Iron Man and pals again? Hopefully the film will at the very least address the matter.