Ever since making his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut with 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes has appeared in more than a half-dozen entries in the ongoing saga, playing a mysterious villain in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to somewhat of a more traditional hero in Avengers: Infinity War (though just as complicated). And as we look toward the release of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, now is the perfect time to look back on the most significant moments for Captain America’s best friend from a long ago era.
We will break down the good (helping the Avengers defeat Thanos is the epic Avengers: Endgame showdown), the bad (the assassination of Tony Stark’s parents in Captain America: Civil War), and everything else that has shaped the character we have come to know, love, hate, and love again. Here are seven things to remember about Bucky Barnes before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Bucky Barnes Is Steve Rogers’ Lifelong Friend
There are few people (if any, really) who better understand what Steve Rogers is going through in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Bucky Barnes. Part older brother and part best friend, Bucky helped look out for the eternal underdog before shipping off for World War II in the first act of Captain America: The First Avenger, telling him, “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back.”
After leaving Steve Rogers (who would later become America’s answer to defeating the Nazis and Hydra) behind in Brooklyn, Bucky Barnes would go off to fight Red Skull and his forces only to be captured and experimented before ultimately being rescued by Captain America. Together they would fight with the Howling Commandos and knock out Hydra bases all across Europe before Bucky presumably fell to his death. But this wasn’t the end.
He Was Captured By Hydra And Turned Into The Winter Soldier
The fall from the train would have killed most, but thanks to Hydra’s experiments during the war, Bucky Barnes survived (though he did lose an arm) and was later captured by the organization and transformed into the Winter Soldier. Bucky wouldn’t reappear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until Captain America: The Winter Soldier when the sleeper agent who had long been preserved was awoken from his sleep and to carry out the wishes of senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), aka one of the best Marvel villains.
After a series of battles with Captain America, Bucky Barnes slowly begins to recover from Hydra’s mind control tactics and goes on to save his best friend before fleeing capture and goes into hiding. But as we would learn time and time again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the past has a way of coming back when we least expect.
Bucky Barnes Assassinated Tony Stark’s Parents
Long before he would reveal himself to the world in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes, under the control of Hydra’s Winter Soldier program, was ordered to assassinate Howard and Maria Stark to steal the elusive Super Soldier Serum. This would later become crucial to the plot of Captain America: Civil War (and really much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) as the revelation that Tony Stark’s parents were murdered by Captain America’s best friend led to the explosive final act of Civil War.
The Winter Soldier Was Falsely Accused Of The Vienna Bombing
Still on the run from CIA, the United Nations, and every other government body in the known world, Bucky Barnes’ situation became much more dire in Captain America: Civil War when he was falsely accused of planting at bomb at the Vienna summit where the Sokovia Accords were to be signed, killing T’Chaka (John Kani), the king of Wakanda, in the process. The bombing would turn out to be just one piece of a multi-stage attack on the Avengers by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl) for wiping out his family during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
He Fought Alongside Captain America And Falcon In Germany
Captain America: Civil War is filled with great moments in terms of character development and action but few scenes compare to epic showdown of the Avengers in Germany as Cap, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, and company attempt to fight off Tony Stark and his forces (including the MCU debut of Spider-Man!!!). The first the old friends from Brooklyn got to fight side-by-side in battle was as epic as can be as the two attempt to stop Helmut Zemo from deploying the remaining Winter Soldiers in the former Soviet Union.
The fight would continue at the former Hydra base later on, once Helmut Zemo revealed his plans to Iron Man, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes by showing Tony Stark a video of the Winter Soldier killing his parents, further dividing the once tight-knit bond of the Avengers’ biggest heroes.
Bucky Barnes Was Made Semi-Stable And Got A New Arm In Wakanda
In the first post-credits scene in Captain America: Civil War, Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers go to Wakanda so that scientists in the reclusive yet technologically-advanced nation can free his mind of Hydra’s grasp and prevent him from being used again in the future. He would appear again in the revealing Black Panther post-credits scene, receiving a new arm from Shuri and seemingly freed of the mind control.
Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers finally reunite in Avengers: Infinity War where Bucky reveals that he’s not in bad shape for a “semi-stable 100-year-old-man” with a clear head, a new arm, and that freaking amazing gun. The good times can’t last…
He Died In The Snap Alongside Countless Others
The reunion of the two best bud from Brooklyn would prove to be short-lived, however, as Thanos quickly descended upon the Wakandan battlefield, took the final stone (sorry, Vision), and fulfilled his destiny of wiping half of life from existence. With the snap of his finger, the Mad Titan turned Earth's mightiest heroes into piles of ash, with Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, T’Challa, and countless others dying where they stood. What was left of the survivors were left with guilt, pain, and questions that would remain unanswered for five long years.
Bucky Barnes Returned To Help Defeat Thanos
As tragic as it was seeing half of the universe vanish in an instant in Avengers: Infinity War, seeing everyone return in Avengers: Endgame for the epic “Avengers, assemble” moment in final battle against Thanos and his army of Chitauri, Sakaaran, and Outriders more than makes up for the feeling of being completely gutted one year earlier.
Among the ranks to come back and help Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and the rest of the Avengers was none other than Bucky Barnes, who arrived alongside the Wakandan forces (and Groot) just as things were really taking off. Just like the old days with the Howling Commandos, Bucky was there for battle in one of the most consequential moments of the MCU.
When we last saw Bucky Barnes in Avengers: Endgame, he was left with Sam Wilson to live a life without his old friend, Steve Rogers. To find out what that world is like for the 100-year-old man from Brooklyn, check out The Falcon and the Winter Soldier when it premieres on Disney+, Friday, March 19.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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