So who is the Winter Soldier? Oh, and keep in mind: SEVERE ANT-MAN SPOILERS AHEAD!
His real name is James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes and he was Captain America Steve Rogers' best friend from before WWII and well into it. They fought together side by side until Bucky fell off the side of a speeding train. He was probably declared MIA. Prior to that, he had been a prisoner of HYDRA and was made the subject of certain....experiments. After WWII, HYDRA head Arnim Zola continued his experiments on Bucky and made him the ultimate weapon:
The Winter Soldier.
Named that because in between missions from HYDRA (and maybe other organizations) he was put in cryogenic sleep, keeping young for 70 years. Under complete mind control, he was HYDRA's best assassin, sent to kill people that HYDRA deemed dangerous to their cause. His memory completely wiped of who he used to be. A weapons and tactics expert to begin with, he was a superior athlete and an elite soldier during WWII. He has a similar Super-Soldier serum coursing through his veins that Captain America has in his. Plus, he has a bad-ass bionic arm (with a red Soviet star on it, I wonder why?).
He met up again (and fought) with Steve Rogers in the 21st Century and his memory of who he used to be gradually came back, sparing Steve a painful death.
At the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky had escaped the destruction of HYDRA and made his way to the Captain America exhibit in the Smithsonian. There, he learned his true identity once again and disappeared off the grid.
I imagined he was off being homeless, trying to remember who he was. How cool of a scene would it have been to have Cap going around New York shelters asking about this man:
Okay, back to reality.
He was briefly mentioned in Age of Ultron as the "Missing Person" that Falcon was trying to track down. The first real picture we got of Bucky Barnes, AKA the Winter Soldier in Captain America Civil War was this one: a wild and crazy-haired and bearded Bucky. Oh, and with the caption: Whose side are you on?
And, now my friends, comes Ant-Man. I literally just got back from the theater and had to write this up. Yes, the Ant-Man post-credits scene.
The Winter Soldier has been captured by Captain America and Falcon. From earlier reports, we know that HYDRA, Black Panther and Tony Stark are all looking for Bucky Barnes. They want to use him for their own ends.
His bionic arm is trapped in some hydraulic press in what appears to be an abandoned machine shop. As we watch the footage, Buck says "Help Me." Did he put himself in there? Did Cap? Where has he been? Apart from the long hair, he looks pretty good if he's been a homeless guy, a "missing person."
Steve and Sam talk about Iron Man, in what appears to be the first dialogue about Civil War.
What? Are these Accords the beginning of a Superhuman Registration Act? Have the lines already been drawn? Is Tony a government stooge?
In Ant-Man everybody was talking about how the Avengers responded to Sokovia and the damage it caused. What will be the final straw that pushes these Accords into the Registration Act?
And speaking of Tony Stark, he presumably knows that The Winter Soldier killed his parents years ago, as it was probably part of the massive HYDRA/SHIELD classified info download to the Internet. Knowing Tony Stark, he wants some payback.
Could Iron Man be looking around the world for the man who killed his parents?
The Russo Brothers say that the Winter Soldier will play a critical role in Civil War:
“Is the Winter Soldier the world’s most dangerous assassin that’s ever lived or the world’s longest serving P.O.W.?” Anthony Russo asked. “Is he responsible for his actions since he was turned into the Winter Soldier, or is he innocent by reason of insanity? Where does this character live now? Is he ever going to be acceptable again to Cap in the way he once was, before he was the Winter Soldier? Those are the really complicated relationship questions and philosophical questions and emotional questions that intrigued us moving forward (MTV).”
What do you think? Will the Winter Soldier be a bad-ass in Civil War?