In the comics, Bucky was a young boy born in Shelbyville, IN, orphaned after his father was killed during training right before World War I. After, he is taken in at a U.S. Army camp in Virginia and is raised by the soldiers who reside there. As a teenager, he trains himself to use weapons and is taught the skill of extreme hand-to-hand combat. He became best friends with Steve Rogers and later discovers Steve is secretly Captain America. He insists that Cap teach him everything he knows, and he is ultimately assigned to be Cap’s partner. His fate in the comics is quite similar to that of the film, in which he falls to his “death” while trying to stop Baron Zemo from launching the first-ever drone plane in 1945, seconds before Steve falls into the ice for 70 years.
And yes, Bucky is The Winter Soldier in the comics as well.
With Sebastian Stan recently extending his contract with Marvel Studios to nine films, we’ll be seeing a LOT more of Bucky Barnes in the MCU for at least the next decade. Let’s take a look at some interesting quips about one half of our resident BFFs of the MCU, directly from his extensive history within the pages of Marvel Comics.
1. Before he was Cap’s partner, he was a HUGE Captain America fan boy.
While he was still a kid living on that Army base, Bucky was just as infatuated with The Star Spangled Man as the rest of us are. He collected all the Cap comics, painted trashcan lids like Cap’s famous shield, and drew pictures of himself fighting alongside his hero. Basically, young Bucky and this writer have quite a bit in common with one another.
2. He is immensely afraid of heights.
As mentioned above, Bucky’s father (who shared Bucky’s level of love and respect for the Armed Forces) was killed in a training exercise. The training exercise in question was teaching the soldiers the proper way to use a parachute after jumping out of a helicopter. Bucky looked at his father the same way all boys look at their fathers: a hero. If falling from insurmountable heights can kill a boy’s hero, those heights should be feared and respected as a formidable entity. This fear also comes into play during Bucky’s own brush with death in the future. Foreshadowing!
3. He was the leader of his own team of heroes called “The Kid Commandos.”
Agent Axis is a super criminal who came from the result of a Nazi experiment that merged three men from Germany, Italy and Japan. He was sent on a mission to kidnap a doctor from a Japanese internment camp as Bucky was simultaneously sent on a mission to rescue that same doctor. Agent Axis got there first and proved to be too much for young Bucky to handle. Because Cap was busy overseas completing his own mission, Bucky needed to find his own means of defeating this man-made monster. He assembled a team of super-powered, yet kindhearted kids including Toro, Golden Girl, and The Human Top to easily defeat Agent Axis, and then they all went their separate ways, with Bucky joining Cap in Europe and the others staying in America to defend the nation. Bucky leading a team of heroes? Foreshadowing!
4. He celebrated his 18th birthday by leading an anti-Nazi resistance in Poland.
As stated earlier, Bucky’s age in the MCU is differentiating by about 8-10 years. On March 10, 1943, Bucky was with the Allies assisting a resistance against the Nazis in Poland. He was there covertly with his old Kid Commandos pal Toro (who is a mutant with the powers of fire manipulation and flight). Toro, being the amazing friend that he is, planned a surprise 18th birthday party for Bucky, which ultimately blew their cover and the poor kid spent this monumental birthday fighting Master Man and Warrior Woman (who have two of the worst superhero names EVER).
5. Past Bucky once met Future Bucky.
This one is a little complicated. Cap and Bucky were assigned a mission to lead a team to stop a Nazi Operation called Operation: Time Ghost, in which the Nazis, with the help of HYDRA, were attempting to manipulate the Cosmic Cube. During the fight, our heroes were pulled into modern era New York. They were dropped right into a battle between Spider-Man and a team of hostile super villains called The Thunderbolts. They soon came face-to-face with Iron Man’s Mighty Avengers, who somehow knew Cap and Bucky were from the past, and the Avengers needed to send them back before they ruined the timeline completely. Bucky and Cap then got into a scuffle with the team they would both be a part of in a few decades, but an army of robots soon descended on modern-day New York, and they all worked together to defeat them. After the battle, future Captain America (from the modern era) gives young Bucky his shield to remember the adventure by. That Captain America was not Steve Rogers though…
As The Winter Soldier:
6. He’s just as much of a Super Soldier as Captain America is.
After he was seemingly killed in action in 1945, Bucky, sans left arm, was found by Soviets who worked for the Department X Program. He is subject to awful experiments for months before they create a formula similar to Cap’s Super Soldier Serum and inject him with it. They also give him a spiffy new arm and BOOM! An assassin is born. His powers and abilities include enhanced physiology and superhuman strength, as well as enhanced speed, durability, stamina, agility and a regenerative healing ability. Just like Cap.
7. He’s credited with over 100 assassinations of government officials.
After he was “perfected” by the Soviet scientists, Bucky was used to conduct strategic assassinations all around the globe as a weapon for HYDRA. His killing ability knew no bounds as he took men out from America, England, France, Mexico and Algeria. He was a weapon used to shape the world in HYDRA’s image for 70 years, having his mind erased and being frozen for years at a time until his “owners” needed his specific set of skills.
8. His cybernetic arm is self-repairing and laced with vibranium.
Fans got a taste of the capabilities of Bucky’s arm in Captain America: The Winter Soldier after Cap struck it with his shield, Bucky flexed, and brushed it off. This arm is nearly indestructible due to the traces of the most adaptable and versatile substance in the world, vibranium. Yes, the same vibranium that Cap’s shield is made out of and the same vibranium from Wakanda that Black Panther would die to protect.
9. He helped train Black Widow.
During the first season of Agent Carter and in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see and hear some small tidbits about the Red Room, the horrific place Natasha Romanoff was trained and turned into a, in her own words, monster. The Red Room was an academy specializing in creating operatives to form an army ready to kill at will. During one of the rare instances Bucky was awake during his 70-year killing spree, he was assigned to the Red Room Academy to pass his knowledge of assassination to the young women in the Black Widow Ops program. Realistically, he was around 60-70 years old and Natasha was in her mid-20s, but that didn’t stop her from falling madly in love with Bucky (I mean who wouldn’t?). Natasha was actually aware of Bucky being frozen until he was needed for missions, but once her modern-day relationships with Cap and Bucky were established, she never revealed this past to either of them. Tragic.
10. He is also Captain America.
Following the devastating ending of the Civil War event in Marvel Comics, in which Steve Rogers is killed in cold blood, Bucky decides it is his, and only his, duty to pick up the shield and become the man who he loved and respected more than he’s ever loved and respected anybody. He would work directly with Nick Fury and Black Widow to earn the trust of Iron Man and the rest of The Avengers and, eventually, he would take up the leadership role that Steve had spent decades grooming him for. Cap’s death would motivate every hero in the Marvel Universe to better themselves, and Bucky became the universal symbol of friendship and loyalty.
There it is. Bucky Barnes is one of the most well-written and emotionally charged heroes in the history of Marvel comics, and that looks to become a common trend in the MCU. He is a victim to some and a villain to others, but either way you look at it, after reading a few events of his life in the 1940s and the current era, he has earned the admiration and respect of readers and will do the same on the big screen.