The Case for Bucky as the Next Captain America

Bucky Barnes was forged in the shadow of a war he never expected, and his legacy as a soldier has placed him on the edge of an important decision. From following Captain America into battle to saying farewell to Steve Rogers, much of Bucky's life has been defined by the patriotic hero. This comparison is thriving in the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now ahead of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiering on Disney+. And while Sam Wilson would make a truly fine Captain America, it is important for Bucky to get his shot at the shield.

It is impossible to overlook the history connecting Bucky to Captain America, whether it is good or bad. The hero's arrival was a blessing and a curse for Bucky as it gave his best friend a new purpose during the Second World War. But in the hero's shadow, Bucky was left to sharpen his grit as a man who cleaned up messes for Steve Rogers. This darkness was only tempered by Hydra and others during Bucky's days as the Winter Soldier, but Captain America took on a new meaning for the man once his conditioning began crumbling.

The MCU has made it clear Bucky is uneasy with his ties to Captain America as a moniker, but he values its weight because of Steve. With the man having forfeited the suit, Captain America's legacy has been put into limbo, but Bucky has the chance to rewrite his own history with the suit if he'd like.

For much of his life, Bucky has lacked the agency to do anything about Captain America, but he has followed a core tenant that Dr. Erskine preached to Steve before his death. The older man said, "a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion." Bucky's stint as the Winter Soldier attempted to bleed this trait from him, but Bucky remains a steadfast man despite his horrific past. His trauma is entirely different from that which made Steve perfect for the suit, but Bucky's experience is just as influential.

If the MCU were to pass the shield to Bucky, the hero would finally get a chance to revise his ties to Captain America on his own terms. Yes, the mythos of Bucky in the comics demands him to carry the shield at some point, but the lens through which the MCU tackles the mantle is different. The minting of a new Captain America feels less like a torch-passing and more like rewriting a legacy. There is no one more suited to tackle that issue in the MCU than Bucky, and he owes himself the chance for such redemption.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ beginning Friday, March 19th.

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