Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

Captain America: The Winter Soldier–Who Is Bucky?

Is Captain America's friend-turned-amnesiac-foe a villain or a misguided hero?

Photos are screen captures from the motion picture Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).
 

In the blockbuster motion picture Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the superhero Captain America faces a mysterious opponent with a bionic arm, the Winter Soldier. Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Cap, discovers to his utter shock that the Winter Soldier is really his best friend since childhood, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, thought to have died back during World War II (as depicted in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger).

When Cap calls out to his long lost friend, Barnes asks, "Who the hell is Bucky?"

Featuring characters created in 1941 by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, the encounter is based on a 2005 comic book scene written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Steve Epting with colors by Frank G. D'Armata. Actors Chris Evans as Cap and Sebastian Stan as Barnes brought the scene to life on the big screen.

Comic book panels from Captain America #8 (2005).

The story progresses to show that amnesia-ridden Barnes has been brainwashed by enemies of America - Soviets in the comic books, HYDRA (Nazis) in the movies - and misled into thinking he is doing the right thing by assassinating bad people. He does wrong, but he means to do right. How might we diagnosis him? Is Cap correct to cling to hope that his best friend can turn things around if only he will remember who he really is? Is there room for redemption in the future of Bucky Barnes?

During this summer's San Diego Comic-Con International convention, the fine folks at Sintesis TV asked for my off the cuff analysis of the Winter Soldier. Alejandro Sevilla has posted the YouTube video embedded below. FYI: The Winter Soldier cosplayer featured here is a member of their crew. See what I had to say. Click it and watch!

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You can follow me on Twitter as @Superherologist or find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BatmanBelfry. I'd love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.

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