What is the greatest relationship of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Tony Stark and Pepper Potts? Wanda Maximoff and Vision? Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter? Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter? (C'mon Steve you have to admit this is getting a little weird).
Sure, the aforementioned romances are all great in their own way — apart from maybe Steve and Sharon, jury's still out on that one — but there's one relationship that has transcended space and time and Soviet brainwashing. Despite what your sister's fanfic says, it might not be a romantic one, but it is the ultimate bromance.
It is, of course, the friendship between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the century long definition of a tragic romance without the romance. After the tense reunion in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the two were reunited properly in Civil War — ending Steve's search for his former best buddy turned brainwashed HYDRA weapon and opening up a whole other can of worms. Worms with Accords.
By the conclusion of Civil War, Steve Rogers is on the run, with the de-facto Secret Avengers at his side. And Bucky Barnes? He's safely tucked away in cryostasis (again), this time in Wakanda under the watchful eye of foe-turned-friend T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), but this time of his own accord.
It was a little surprising to see Bucky going back down for the cold nap, given that his freedom was one of the major flash points in both The Winter Soldier and Civil War. But it makes sense too — as long as the Winter Soldier programming still exists within the dark corners of his mind, Bucky is a danger to everyone, including Steve. As he himself says: "I can't trust my own mind."
So when will we see Bucky again? Well, we recently learned via The Hollywood Reporter that he'll definitely be back in the mix around the time that Avengers: Infinity War kicks off, as Sebastian Stan has been confirmed to be appearing in the upcoming Avengers property.
This means there's a pretty big possibility that he'll be showing up in Black Panther too, since there'll need to be some explanation for how and why he's up and around again. Unless of course everything hits the fan in Infinity War and Steve remembers a handsome one-armed super-soldier who would be pretty handy for combating the purple faced menace, that's always a possibility.
But Bucky's character arc across the past two movies he's appeared in has fairly closely followed the archetypal fall and redemption — and he's not done redeeming himself just yet. While there's been much speculation (and a little tease in a Civil War deleted scene, which you can watch below) that he may yet become Captain America in the MCU, now that Steve Rogers has given up that mantle, he's still got a lot of living up to the name to do before he'll be worthy of picking up Steve's shield.
Infinity War seems like a good time to explore this, but that's not all we'll be seeing explored in the Phase 3 centerpiece. The Winter Soldier and Civil War directing duo Anthony and Joe Russo, popularly known as the Russo brothers, are behind the helm once more for Infinity War.
Given that they've been the driving force behind Steve and Bucky's relationship so far, it wasn't a huge surprise to learn that we should expect to see more of that in Infinity War, as Anthony Russo told Slashfilm at a Civil War press junket back in May when discussing the relationships of the upcoming movie:
Anthony Russo: "The other relationship that’s still exciting to us is, again, Cap and Bucky. The wonderful thing about ['Infinity War'], which started in 'Winter Soldier,' is that Cap had a belief in him, that there’s still a human being inside the Winter Soldier that he can save and that he can reach, and he’s gone to incredible lengths now, with incredible faith, that that’s waiting for him if he goes there."
The Russos' last outing saw Steve finding the human being inside of the Winter Soldier, so what now? Of course it's not that easy, as we saw in Civil War, the Winter Soldier still exists inside that human too.
There's no easy snap back to 1942 and the camaraderie and closeness that the two had back then. Because for all intents and purposes, Bucky as we knew him in The First Avenger no longer exists.
Anthony Russo: "[Steve's] found that human being inside Bucky Barnes, but who is that guy going forward? Just because he’s found and he’s there, he’s still this crazy, bastard hybrid of who he used to be in 'The First Avenger' and this killing machine.Joe Russo: "If he’s not Bucky Barnes or The Winter Soldier, then who he is?"Anthony Russo: "He’s somebody new now. What kind of relationship will him and Cap have moving forward?"
These are the questions that Infinity War will answer. Like the Russo brothers putting a firm Captain America stamp on the Civil War arc of the comics, it looks like they're going to do something similar with Infinity War. And if it turns out half as well as Civil War did, well, we can't wait to see what happens next for the two men out of time.
What do you think will happen to Captain America and Bucky Barnes in Avengers: Infinity War? Start a conversation in the comments below!