After his dramatic reveal in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973), Bucky has become a figure of intrigue and sympathy, with fans desperate to know what's in store for Cap's best friend turned assassin. And with Sebastian Stan's contract officially extended beyond Chris Evans', some startling developments are coming up in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409).
Bucky Barnes is going to play a "crucial role" in the impending skirmish, confirmed directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and the stakes for the ex-Howling Commando have never been higher.
"He has to get everyone on his side by the end of this movie, because his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a lot bigger.”
So how will the Winter Soldier go from mortal foe to trusted ally? Here's what we know so far (obviously, there may be spoilers so proceed with care!)
Political pressure and Avengers divided
The official synopsis has cast some light on why Earth's Mightiest Heroes find themselves at war with one another. In the original comic, after various events cause deaths of civilians the Superhuman Registration Act is enforced, a law that will force all superheroes to reveal their secret identities and face accountability. But while the Marvel comic universe has literally hundreds of heroes with different allegiances, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has... nine. Including the new additions to the team in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035). This was initially the source of much criticism when it was revealed that Civil War would be the plot of the next Captain America film, but in their synopsis the Russos seem to have found a way to make it work.
"After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain."
So instead of unmasking the heroes (pretty pointless as, with the exception of Bruce Banner and Clint Barton, all of The Avengers' identities are public), Captain America: Civil War will be about controlling them. This leads on nicely from Captain America: Winter Soldier, which saw S.H.I.E.L.D. abolished, leaving the Avengers free of government sponsorship. But will this plot trace over the same steps as the previous film?
Although CA: Civil War has similar themes of government control and transparency that CA: Winter Soldier had, there are a lot more factors at play in the next instalment. And Feige has promised that the events of this film with be groundbreaking, saying that the situation will be "a whole new ball game" by the end of the film. Chris Evans added that this will be a jumping off point into [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027), with CA: Civil War setting up "the real battle" that is yet to come. But never fear: this film is not just one big lead in to Infinity War. Feige promised that CA: Civil War is "very much a sequel to Captain America 2 in a way I don't think people will expect."
Just what does all this mean for our favourite brainwashed assassin? We've had plenty of hints about Bucky's role, and new additions to the cast like Black Panther and Crossbones can help us get an idea of exactly how this story will play out.
Bucky Barnes is going to be a pursued man, with not one, not two, but four separate characters after him! Of course we already know that Cap and Falcon are hot on Bucky's tail, but after a potential theft of vibranium, Black Panther starts the hunt as well. And with Agent Frank Grillo taking up his villainous persona Crossbones, he'll be after the Winter Soldier to indoctrinate him back into Hydra's evil cult. The Russos are determined to delve deeper into Bucky's story.
"Philosophical questions that we would want to deal with in Cap 3 would be, you know, is he redeemable? Where does he live now? Does he ever regain his memories? If he doesn’t regain his memories, can you call him Bucky Barnes, or is he somebody new?"
So there are clearly two major plotlines at play here: the "international incident" leading to government control, and the race to find Bucky first.
It's possible that the two plotlines are not so separate after all: the incident could well be caused by the Winter Soldier, or at least have him in the mix, leading to public outcry about this rogue figure and demands for him to be unmasked. And let's not forget that as the Winter Soldier murdered Tony Stark's parents, it may be difficult for Iron Man to support Bucky in this divisive issue. The question comes down to whether Bucky is a victim or a villain or, as the Russos put it, "the world's most feared assassin or longest serving prisoner of war."
A bigger role in the future
If the MCU is going to follow the comic canon, Bucky Barnes is definitely due for a rise to heroic status. Of course it hasn't been confirmed yet, but there are some big changes on the horizon that may see Bucky (or Sam Wilson) take up Captain America's mantle and continue Steve Rogers' legacy. Whether this will have been established by Infinity War is yet to be revealed but one thing's for certain: Captain America 3: Civil War is going to be a real game changer!
Is Bucky a hero or a villain?
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