James Barnes, James Buchanan Barnes, Bucky Barnes — the man behind The Winter Soldier. The Marvel Cinematic Universes’ greatest friend, foe, and previous HYDRA agent. James Barnes is the best friend of Steve Rogers, they have been friends since the dawn of time (literally, since they were young boys).
They have been through hell and back up until the most recent Avengers film, Captain America: Civil War. So, that begs the question — after everything James Barnes has done, is he capable of being Captain America after Steve Rogers dies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe possibly after Avengers 4?
The Young Life of James Buchanan Barnes
Who is/was James Bucky? Before James was Bucky Barnes or The Winter Soldier at all, he was James Buchanan Barnes. A best friend to Steve, a military fighter, and a down to Earth guy — who I would argue still is.
James Bucky in the MCU is a bit different than the Marvel Comics version of his identity. Born in March on the tenth day, to be exact, in 2017, Barnes was the eldest of four siblings. He grew up to be an overachiever, an excellent athlete and excelled in class.
During his childhood, he met Steve Rogers when bullies were trying to steal his money. The two become best pals and stuck together for many years to come. Barnes often defended Rogers from bullies who have attempted to take advantage of Rogers’ short height and small build.
A Friendship That Will Last To The End Of The Line
Around the 1930’s, Steve’s mother — Sarah Rogers — passed away from tuberculosis. She was buried beside Steve’s father — Joseph Rogers. After the funeral, Bucky Barnes walked Steve Rogers home and offered him his place to stay. Roger refused and stated, “he could get by on his own.”
As he stated that, he was stumbling to find his house key. Bucky Barnes then revealed his secret key and told Steve that he did not have to make it on his own because Bucky was with him “until the end of the line.” This is a line that would replay in almost every film that featured the two. The line, some would say, that bogged Barnes’ memory from HYDRA.
James Barnes > Bucky Barnes > The Winter Soldier
Sergeant James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes is a retired soldier of the 107th Infantry Regiment. Barnes entered the war at the height of WWII, he enlisted to help where he could. Unfortunately, doing the right thing leads to him shortly thereafter being captured by HYDRA. He was rescued by Steve Rogers — ultimately — who has just become Captain America during his captured absence.
Steve Rogers and James Barnes joined forces and continued the war; Rogers then formed by Howling Commandoes to battle Red Skull. During that Barnes was caught in an ambush and plunged from the HYDRA train. He disappeared and was ‘assumed’ to be dead.
Bucky’s Stint With HYDRA
Not knowing that Barnes was actually alive, Steve went on assuming that he was deceased. Fortunately, he survived the attack on the train — but, lost his left arm in the process. Throughout this, he was captured, brainwashed, and then armed with a new cybernetic arm. Barnes was from then on a heightened HYDRA operative known as The Winter Soldier.
Over the next few decades, Barnes would excrete anyone who posed a threat to HYDRA. Anyone including his former alleys, Howard and Maria Stark. Between his missions, Barnes would be put into a cryogenic stasis to conserve his longevity. A half a century later, he was ordered by HYDRA’s new leader Alexander Pierce to assassinate Nick Fury.
Nonetheless, The Winter Soldier was faced with his old best pal, Captain America (Steve Rogers). This began triggering him to remember his life before HYDRA brainwashed him. Sound familiar? Yes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Pre-Infinity War to Infinity War
In the consequences of the Battle of Triskelion, The Winter Soldier goes on the run from HYDRA. Deciding that he needs to remember his past and end his long HYDRA violent history. Nonetheless, it does not stop there — Bucky Barnes is accused of murdering T’Chaka, the previous king of Wakanda and many standbys.
Black Panther wanted revenge for his father’s death, so he set his sights on Bucky Barnes. While doing so, Captain America saves Bucky Barnes sparking what we know as… The Civil War as Tony Stark was sent to capture him. When Tony was on his rampage to collect his owed debt, Helmut Zemo who organized the Civil War revealed to Tony that Barnes murdered his parents years ago.
With the help of Captain America and his team in the Civil War, Bucky escaped and was taken to Wakanda. There he was allowed by T’Challa himself, (Black Panther) to be frozen until his mind can be cured of all of the HYDRA brainwash.
The Redemption of Bucky Barnes
Now that you know the backstory of Bucky, let’s chat about his redemption. Redemption is the act of being saved, forgiven, or free from evil, sins, or error ways. In the past, Bucky Barnes has done some… terrible things. Yes, he was brainwashed.
But, he still did those acts of terrible things onto others. While he was brainwashed and didn’t exactly know what he was doing — this begs the question of his redemption in order to be Captain America. Captain America is a savior, usually representing America in all ways.
So Can Bucky Barnes Be Captain America?
Steve Rogers is a great guy; he’s generous, stands up for what he believes in, and fights back when he needs to. Thinking of Barnes’ past and what he has done is he capable of being a new Steve? Even though he was brainwashed and now is better than he was, what happens in the case where he is triggered again?
Although Bucky Barnes has had his consequences — deservingly so — he is still worthy of the Captain America title. If anything, his past has shaped him into who he is and that is why he deserves to be the face of America. His trials and tribulations have made him a stronger person and without a doubt, he can lead any team of Avengers any day of the week.
He possesses the same skill that Steve has because he is Steve’s best friend. Without a doubt, Bucky Barnes understands the persona of Steve just as well as Steve himself. He has remained his best friend since youth, and he understands what Captain America wants out of the persona. What better way after Steve Rogers dies then to make Captain America his best friend and right-hand-man?
Does Bucky Deserve It?
Now, what comes with redemption is forgiveness and making sure the person learns their lesson. Loki — someone who has never learned their lesson — is a prime example of someone who does not really deserve redemption. At least not without a fight. Bucky Barnes, on the other hand, is someone who deserves it because he was unaware of the wrongdoing.
Bucky Is Different Than The Regular Anti-Hero…
Even more so, he tried to fix his wrongdoings and make them right. Again, leaving and running away from HYDRA to figure out who he was before HYDRA is a depiction of that. Remembering the phrase “to the end of the line” was an important moment for both Steve and Bucky.
Saving Steve Rogers in The Winter Soldier (?) was a redeeming aspect. After they are fighting each other and Steve saying he wasn’t going to back down, Bucky ends up saving him from the water. Meaning he understood — at least somewhat — what Steve meant to him as a person.
That is important. The difference between him and Loki is that: Loki never understands what Thor means to him as a brother. And, he then takes advantage of Thor. Bucky is different. From the moment he recognized “to the end of the line,” he understood who he was. Even Bucky himself thought it was a good idea to freeze his body for the sake of his mind and making sure he did not harm anyone else. That takes guts to be frozen for however long until they can find a way to fix you.
Bring On Bucky Barnes As Captain America!
I am all for Bucky Barnes being Captain America. He embodies a person who went through some hardships and bounced back from it with the help of his best friend. While, yes, he has done bad things in the past — while he wasn’t himself — he still came back to the right side.
Bucky also ended up being a part of the Avengers and an alley of Black Panther — who wanted to kill him before they officially met. He has ties to everyone Steve knows because of Steve and has a good relationship with most of them.
A good person is someone who can bounce back from the evil doings they have done and make them right. Bucky Barnes being on the right side of Infinity War shows that. Bucky wants to be frozen in order to save himself and others shows that.
Now We Wait…
You can tell — even in his expressionless face — Bucky feels terrible for what he has done. However, being brainwashed by HYDRA does give him some intel into their future enemies.
That could provide to be a huge plus if he does become Captain America. Bucky not only has Intel into his enemies, he can train the future Avengers to defeat them. (Honestly, I love Steve Rogers, but Bucky is looking pretty nice right now, too!)