Well, Falcon and The Winter Soldier was awesome. Watching Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson begin as heated rivals and become partners was seriously good character development for both characters. Of course, the elephant in the room was Sam taking up the shield and the Captain America mantle in the final episode. It was good that he finally embraced the role that Steve Rogers bestowed on him. While Sam becoming Captain America was a big step forward for Sam, I actually appreciated the character development for Bucky. Before Avengers: Endgame, I actually had a theory that Bucky was going to take up the Captain America mantle. Clearly, that didn’t happen, but after this first season, I’m convinced that Marvel can still make him another Captain America.
Now should they even do this? My answer would be yes. In the comics, both Sam and Bucky took on the Captain America role and both characters carried it well. For Sam, it was a significant step-up from a cultural standpoint, but for Bucky, it meant a lot of things. Firstly, Bucky was able to find redemption in becoming Captain America. The MCU has already shown us at his worst when he was fully brainwashed into becoming the Winter Soldier. Even though he had no control over his actions, Bucky could still remember the lives he took and was overwhelmed with guilt. Despite his crimes as the Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers still believed in his old friend and continued to vouch for him. Eventually, this would pay off when Bucky took up the shield and operated as a new Captain America.
This is something I’d like to see in the MCU for several reasons. Again, it would bring Bucky’s redemption arc full circle. Aside from the redemption arc, having him be Captain America would mean that Bucky is carrying on Steve’s legacy. It would have the most emotional impact, because he was Steve’s first and only friend. Even when he had nothing, he had Bucky, Steve’s exact words. Sure, the friendship between Steve and Sam was great. Their bond grew overtime and Sam became Steve’s most loyal companion. However, I believe their friendship comes no where near to the bond that Steve shares with Bucky.
To me, Bucky resembles the best friend gone bad. Sure, you can argue that he didn’t turn bad willingly. However, Bucky was revived much sooner than Steve was and spent many years as an assassin for Hydra. As we all saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he proved to be Steve’s physical equal and despite everyone’s protests that Bucky couldn’t be saved, Steve never gave up on him. His efforts to save him paid off, and Bucky began turning away from the Winter Soldier persona.
This is a special kind of friendship that the MCU should not forget. The significance of Steve saving Bucky runs deep for both characters. Has anyone else had that friend who lost his way and needed some much-needed guidance? Steve had every reason to turn his back on him, but refused to do so. Even after the events of Civil War, Steve wanted to keep Bucky safe and take time to get his mind right. Luckily, they had the Wakandans for help and now, Bucky has that new, shiny arm. Heck, he even cut his hair last time we saw him.
Now I’ve discussed this with friends recently, and they tried telling me Bucky should not be Captain America. Their reason: his mental health. That’s a valid point, but we’ve seen how much Bucky has changed since he stopped being the Winter Soldier. In the beginning of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, he’s still struggling with moving on and coping with the guilt. By the end of the season, he thanks his therapist for helping him, confesses to his friend, Yori Nakajima, that he killed his son as the Winter Soldier, and joins Sam’s family during their party.
All of these things show how far he’s come since we saw him as the Winter Soldier. He may not be one-hundred-percent over it, but he’s shown that he wants to move on. His character development has certainly become an interesting journey, but if Marvel wants to take it a step further, they can give him the shield.
I will say, I’m glad that Sam became Captain America after watching the finale. It shows some serious cultural progression, not just in the MCU, but in comic book movies overall. In the show, Isiah Bradley made it clear that after what happened to him, the United States government would never let a black man become Captain America. Sam, taking a page out of Steve’s book, defied all the odds, and showed the world otherwise. Sam being Captain America proves that the character doesn’t have to be defined by his race. Sure, during the time when Captain America was created, having the white Steve Rogers be him made the most logical sense, but times change.
In this new modern age, we’re finally seeing diversity becoming more frequent. What better way to enhance diversity than to give us a black Captain America? After John Walker failed to live up to the title, things had to change. It may not have been the change that people in the MCU expected or even wanted, but it was a change that was needed. For the MCU, Sam made everyone aware that it didn’t matter where the hero came from or what he looked like. His devotion to becoming Captain America proved that a hero like Cap can be anyone. It’s a big step-up for the MCU and hopefully other comic book movies will follow. More diverse leads? Heck yes.
Now if that’s the case, then why not give Bucky a chance? He was Steve’s first and best friend and keeps learning to keep his mental health in check. Becoming the next Captain America might help him completely move on from his past and give him a reason to be the hero Steve wanted him to be. Plus, he’s a legitimate super soldier. Sam isn’t really a super soldier, is he? That might not matter, but Bucky can probably make his head spin if Sam doesn’t have his shield.
What are your thoughts, Marvel fans? Are you all for Bucky taking up the Captain America mantle?