When Bucky Barnes was introduced, he was one of the most beloved young sidekicks in comics. Batman had Robin, and Captain America had Bucky Barnes. Many fans might recognize Bucky as the Winter Soldier, the Russian super-weapon created using Captain America’s friend, James Buchanan Barnes. Throughout Marvel Comics history, Bucky has been an important and popular character, even as a deadly assassin. What’s interesting, though, is that for much of his “lifetime” in comics, Bucky has actually been dead.
Death comes and goes in comics, it’s true, but Uncle Ben and Bucky Barnes were the characters who were supposed to stay dead. Fortunately for Avengers fans everywhere, Bucky was revived and is a key player in the current Marvel Universe, both in the movies and in the comics. The Winter Soldier has some dark secrets, though. There are facts, both good and bad, that you might not know about Bucky. He has led a life of crime, romance, danger, and heroics. From going up against his own family and friends to fighting communism and cheating death, Bucky has run the gambit of comic book plots. From teen hero to assassin extraordinaire, the Winter Soldier’s life is full of secrets and mysteries. How well do you really know Bucky Barnes?
15. STAN LEE HATES BUCKY
Bucky Barnes has been around for a long time, before Marvel Comics was even Marvel Comics! He has truly stood the test of time, and has proven to be a valuable sidekick to Steve Rogers, one of the most well-known and successful Marvel characters of all time. Who could possibly dislike Bucky Barnes so much? This naysayer is none other than Marvel mogul Stan Lee.
Stan Lee famously dislikes teen sidekicks, which is why there are so few “Robins” in the Marvel Universe. He holds a special contempt for Bucky, though, one of the original famous kid sidekicks in comics. In his book, Origins of Marvel Comics, Lee writes “One of my many pet peeves has always been the young teenage sidekick of the average superhero”. Luckily Jack Kirby (and Steve Rogers) felt differently, and kept Bucky around.
14. BUCKY WAS A ROBIN?
Bucky is famous for being Captain America’s teen sidekick. In the comics, he befriended Steve while they were in the military together, discovered his secret identity, and trained to become his sidekick. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bucky and Steve have been best friends since they were kids, and joined the army together. In both of these continuities, Steve and Bucky are inseparable, as they should be. Bucky has always been Captain America’s right hand man.
That is, except when he is hanging out with Batman. Yes, Batman and Captain America are from two completely different worlds. DC and Marvel do not usually mix, but sometimes it is fun to see the two worlds crossover. If Marvel and DC would come together again, The Winter Soldier would be a great addition to Gotham City.
13. HE ISN’T THE ONLY BUCKY
Bucky Barnes is famous. He is not only the plucky teen sidekick to Captain America from decades of Marvel Comics, but also the extremely well-received Winter Soldier character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you think you know exactly who Bucky is, though, and the only name in your head is James Buchanan Barnes, you are missing some critical information. James “Bucky” Barnes was the first Bucky, introduced in 1941.
There was a short appearance of Fred Davis, who starred in a “What If?” timeline in 1977. Jack Monroe lasted a little longer, until he became Nomad. Rick Jones was a Bucky before he became a hacktivist known as Whisperer. Lemar Hoskins, who became Battlestar, was the 5th Bucky. He was followed by Rikki Barnes, a female Bucky who was introduced during “Heroes Reborn”. There was even a baby Bucky, Julia Winters, who was adopted by Nomad. What a crowd!
12. BUCKY AND BLACK WIDOW WERE AN ITEM
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha has more chemistry with Captain America, Hawkeye, and even the Hulk than she ever does with the Winter Soldier. In the comics, though, their relationship takes a different turn. As far as women go, Natasha is probably one of the few that can actually handle Bucky Barnes, even after his transformation into the killer known as the Winter Soldier.
Their Russian roots and troubled backgrounds might not make for the best dinner conversation, but they definitely have a lot in common. Though this relationship has been largely abandoned in recent comics, an assassin couple in sleek black outfits would be pretty cool. Unfortunately for fans shipping the “Winter Widow” relationship, it seems unlikely that their romance will ever make it to the big screen.
11. HIS ARM IS A KILLER
Everyone knows that Bucky Barnes died and was brought back to life as the Winter Soldier. The Russians who found him apparently weren’t interested in training a secret assassin without a left arm, though, because that is the first issue they took care of after bringing Bucky back to life. They replaced Bucky’s missing arm with a powerful bionic prosthesis. This cybernetic arm is attached to his brain like a robotic prosthesis, so he can control it just like a real arm.
However, that control is not limited to when the arm is fully attached to his shoulder. His metal arm can punch people even when it’s away from his body. Seeing a metal arm flying at you is one of the few things that is more terrifying than seeing a trained Russian assassin coming at you.
10. HE KILLED…HIMSELF?
Bucky died in a plane crash, right? Well, yes and no. He was revived by the Russians and trained to be a dangerous weapon. He was brainwashed and formed into a skilled assassin. During this time, the Winter Soldier murdered hundreds of people, including staging large-scale terrorist attacks. One of the people he murdered was The Nomad, Jack Monroe. This might not seem important, but Jack Monroe was not always the Nomad. Before he took on that title, he was a sidekick to Steve Rogers.
When he worked with Captain America, Jack Monroe was Bucky — the third Bucky, to be exact. In a strange circling of fate and coincidence, the original Bucky Barnes, now the Winter Soldier, murdered his replacement Bucky, Jack Monroe, resulting in what had to be one of the most confusing obituaries in Marvel history. Apparently Bucky is a title with some very bad luck attached.
9. HE’S AFRAID OF HEIGHTS
Superheroes are supposed to be invincible, but comics are successful because they add human elements to their superhuman characters. Batman misses his parents. Hulk doesn’t want to be a monster. Iron Man has a drinking problem. The weak points of our heroes is what makes them relatable and realistic. For Bucky, though, his human weakness is something many of us share. He is terrified of heights. Bucky’s fear of heights stems from his childhood.
His father was killed in a parachute accident while teaching other soldiers how to jump out of a helicopter. Heights killed one of Bucky’s greatest heroes, his father, and that is something that sticks with an impressionable young boy. It seems ironic, and pretty sad, that Bucky’s own death involved a plane accident, too.
8. WOLVERINE HATES HIM
It seems like Wolverine and Bucky should get along. They are both powerful heroes who have been altered physically by their enemies, and they both waver between being good guys and…less than good guys. In fact, Wolverine and Bucky did work together when they met. When Bucky was an assassin, he helped Wolverine escape from the Weapon X labs. That sounds great, but freeing Wolverine is not all Bucky was there to do.
He also is responsible for the murder of Wolverine’s wife, Itsu. The kicker? She was pregnant with their unborn son. Daken miraculously survived, after being cut out of his mother’s stomach, but he didn’t grow up to be a hero. Bucky helps Wolverine out later, when Daken is out to kill him, but that doesn’t really make up for the fact that it was his fault in the first place.
7. BUCKY GOES TO JAIL
The Winter Soldier is a skilled assassin with a long and dangerous track record. Between working for the Russians, fighting the Avengers, and racking up a long list of high-profile murders, he seems almost unstoppable. He has been caught though, and not just by the Avengers. Bucky was in a Russian prison for some time. He wasn’t serving penance for all the crimes he took part in, however, but was held on charges that were not his doing.
Bucky certainly wasn’t innocent by any means, but he was innocent of these particular crimes. Always trying to do the right thing (sort of), Bucky sticks around to be proven innocent, but when that doesn’t happen, he takes matters into his own hands. Luckily, prison walls can’t hold a guy like this for long. He escaped, taking down the whole prison on his way out.
6. HE HAS A SON…AND HIS SON IS EVIL
From what most people know of Bucky, he never got the chance to settle down. He went from being a military mascot to Captain America’s sidekick. He suffered an untimely death and then was resurrected as a Russian assassin. With a life like that, it doesn’t seem like Bucky would have much time to settle down and start a family. In the Ultimate Universe, Marvel 1610, Bucky is just “Buck”, an old man who thinks Steve Rogers died in his last mission.
He marries Steve’s widow, Gail, and hey raise a family together. This includes Steve and Gail’s son (now Bucky’s stepson), who grows up to be Red Skull. Bucky is suffering from lung cancer, from smoking during the war, but he gets to see Gail comfort her son as he laments the normal life he never got to have. That puts a new spin on Cap’s old villain!
5. HE’S JUST A KID!
In the comics, Bucky was a young teen when he was introduced. He was shipped off to the military to be trained and he was often viewed as the “camp mascot”. He was a huge Captain America fanboy, and Steve Rogers was the clumsy soldier on base. When Bucky walked in on Steve changing and found out his secret identity, they decided to fight for justice together. Bucky became Captain America’s sidekick, but was tragically killed in a plane crash.
Bucky’s tragic death at such a young age is the main reason there are so few young sidekicks in Marvel comics — they don’t want a situation like Batman’s string of dead and injured Robins. Even as the Winter Soldier, Bucky appears to be around 30 even though he is 100 years old, just like Steve. That’s the magic of cryostasis!
4. HE FOUGHT COMMUNISM
Bucky has fought many enemies, including The Avengers. There was a time, though, that Bucky fought Communism. This might seem confusing, considering the prominent red Communist star on his bionic arm, but he didn’t put that there — the Russians did. They branded him for their cause when they revived him and brainwashed him into being a secret Russian assassin. In the ’50s, the superheroes were losing popularity.
Captain America was re-worked a bit to save his popularity. Captain America, and his sidekick Bucky, were introduced as Communist-hunting heroes, fighting for freedom and the American Way. The world of comics needed a new enemy after World War II ended, and the Red Scare was the perfect opportunity to appease the government and keep comic sales from tanking. This is a bit of Winter Soldier history Disney would prefer to forget.
3. HE FOUGHT THE AVENGERS
In the recent Marvel movies, Bucky is regaining his memories, reconnecting with Captain America, and helping out The Avengers. When Bucky destroys the Cosmic Cube and is believed dead, he actually returns to his old military base, where he first met Steve Rogers. He works on regaining his memories and remembering who he is. He blames Tony Stark for the death of Steve Rogers, and decides that the only way to avenge his best friend is to kill Iron Man.
In his efforts to get to Stark, he fought Black Widow as well. Obviously, The Avengers were not going to let the confused, angry Bucky get to Tony Stark without a fight. In the Marvel movies, Bucky is introduced as an assassin and is an enemy of the Avengers, but that is not the only time he went up against the team.
2. HE’S A RUSSIAN WEAPON
Bucky has a hazy origin, which is understandable considering he has died and come back to life in a few different ways. He has some dangerous ties to Russia that Disney might not want you to know. The Marvel Cinematic Universe addresses some of the Winter Soldier’s dark roots, but some secrets are yet to be revealed. When Bucky Barnes died in a plane explosion during World War II, he did not truly die. He was resurrected by General Vasily Karpov and his crew, who found him with their Russian patrol submarine.
Though he was missing his left arm, that didn’t stop the Russians from giving him a deadly bionic replacement and training him to be a Russian assassin, brainwashed to follow orders and kill. He even launches a terrorist attack near where he grew up, in Philadelphia. That’s a big jump from the All-American kid sidekick of his youth.
1. BUCKY BROKE THE COSMIC CUBE
You’ve heard of the Cosmic Cube, right? Of course you have, it’s one of the most powerful devices in the Marvel Universe, and an integral item in the plot of The Avengers. Why, then, would Bucky break it? Well, he hasn’t always been the most careful hero. No, he didn’t just accidentally drop it or leave it for the Hulk to step on, he shattered it on purpose!
In Captain America #15, Bucky decides he is angry about being the Winter Soldier, and his memories flood back, leaving him guilty and confused. He steals the Cosmic Cube from Soviet General Aleksander Lukin, and instead of doing anything useful with it, decides to break it to make himself feel better. He doesn’t even stick around for the aftermath, he just teleports away from the scene. Thanks, Bucky.
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