How much do we know about MCU James Buchanan Barnes, really?
Based on what?
For as much fanwork and meta as he’s inspired, he remains enigmatic in canon. Barnes is emotionally important in CA:FA, but receives relatively little screen time before he dies; he’s very much a secondary character. In CA:WS he’s brainwashed and gets maybe 9 lines – half of those are screamed. We can’t rely on the comics because these are clearly different characters: MCU Bucky has a different history than any of the comics Buckys, and MCU Winter Soldier appears not only to be stripped of memory like his 616 counterpart, but also a greater degree of his personality and agency. Cracks in his conditioning are beginning to show by the end of the film, but we don’t know how he’s changed or how he’ll continue to change following the events of Cap 2.
It’s startling to realize how many hours of thought, dozens of AUs and headcanons, pages of fancomics, reams of art, and millions of words of fic are all based on very little conclusive information. The fandom around Bucky Barnes is fraught with unconfirmed assumptions, and no one has access to more details or insight than the next person.
That’s one of the reasons I enjoy wildly different interpretations of the character (so long as they remain internally consistent and are justified within the text), because while these extrapolations may not be consistent with one another, any one of them may be consistent with canon when your canon is as open-ended as this.
CA: Civil War is going to be fascinating, because there are so many possible options, I genuinely don’t know where the character might be taken. I hope the narrative is half as interested in exploring those questions as I am. Who the hell is Bucky?
:D Yup! Really we’ve spent a lot of time extrapolating from two pre-war scenes (the double-date, the apartment flashback), and three-ish wartime scenes (the factory, the return/pub, the train), and using that to build up Bucky’s personality. But what’s left of that in Winter Soldier by the end of CA:TWS is a complete mystery, SebStan’s stellar performance notwithstanding. And I think it’s that mystery that’s so interesting! We have enough about Bucky to know a bit about the person-that-was, and therefore have enough to speculate/cry over the person-that-is.
I think that’s what I’m excited about re: Cap3, but I have to remind myself that at the end of the day, it’s a Cap movie, and the stuff about Bucky’s going to be primarily used to Cap’s arc. (I’m still a bit miffed that the Russos’ intent for Steve wearing his old WWII uniform is for Steve to return to a state of idealism and not for Bucky to recognize him.)
This is definitely the most exciting part of CW to me. Even if it guarantees that I’ll be Jossed.