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Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes has become a fan-favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he’s come a long way since his initial debut in the present-day MCU. Of course, I’m referring to the fact that he first reunited with best friend Steve Rogers as a HYDRA-controlled assassin in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. From the moment he was revealed in concept art, fans were enamored with the enigmatic character. But while his armor was cool (and comic book-accurate), he almost received a different mask that could’ve been just as good.

Marvel Studios’ head of visual development, Ryan Meinerding, has been known to drop conceptual art on social media once in a while. And now, via Instagram, he’s released an unused design of Bucky Barnes’ face mask from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Check out the sweet piece of art for yourself down below:

The design is definitely different from what moviegoers and comic book fans are accustomed to, but it’s an unique take on the pivotal piece of wardrobe. What’s most interesting about it is that it reveals more of Bucky’s face. But with Marvel Studios likely wanting to keep Bucky’s identity a secret from general audiences that were unaware, it was probably best they didn’t go with this design.

As the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes created major problems for Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Sam Wilson. Steve was already thrown for a loop when seeing an individual with abilities similar to his own, but he was absolutely crushed when discovered that the deadly agent was none other than his long-though-dead-friend.

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Luckily, after plenty of drama, Rogers would save and help his friend regain his identity. He would, of course, have some vital help from his allies in Wakanda, who would both cure Barnes and upgrade his arm. Coincidentally, Bucky almost got some sleek Wakandan armor in Avengers: Infinity War, but it never made it to the big screen.

Bucky Barnes ultimately didn’t take up the mantle of Captain America, a development that Sebastian Stan was fine with, yet he’ll still serve as a key ally to the new Cap – Sam Wilson. Though now that he’s officially shed the Winter Soldier moniker, the man out of time will have to forge a new identity as he further settles into his new reality.

One thing that can be said is that Barnes will definitely stay on the heroic path that’s been set before him. As cool as he was as the Winter Soldier, I don’t see him returning to his villainous ways any time soon.

Still, you can help but admire the alternate take on his gear, and Ryan Meinerding deserves props for trying something new. It’ll be fun to see what kind of gear Barnes is sporting when we next see him.

And if for some reason you’re feeling nostalgic for Bucky Barnes’ days as a HYDRA agent, you can stream Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Disney+.

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