There’s this famous saying that you hear from comic fans a lot:“No one stays dead except for Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben.” I’m still waiting for Marvel to bring Uncle Ben back.
Major spoilers for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ahead!
Ed Brubaker was the genius behind the revival of James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes in 2005. It takes a lot of courage and writing skills to bring back a character that had been killed off in 1964. But if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have gotten the cinematic thrill ride that is “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
While I enjoyed the movie as a whole, there were certain issues that stuck out to me. One of them was Natasha’s age. When the computer scans Steve and Natasha, it says she was born in 1984. However, in the comic universe, she was born in 1928. While the movie doesn’t go very deep into her back story, making her 56 years younger than what she was isn’t exactly staying true to the character. She was injected with the Red Room’s mock Super-Soldier serum, giving her the same abilities as Captain America, with the intent of being used in a different way. While he was being used on the battlefield and as propaganda in the U.S., she was being brainwashed and used as a spy for the USSR. It would be pretty difficult for her to be a spy for the USSR if the Soviet Union had collapsed in 1991 and she had been born in 1984. And considering that Steve was frozen for almost 70 years and came out looking as young as he did in 1943, it’s safe to say that he ages a lot slower than most human beings, thus making Natasha age at the same pace as him.
Another inconsistency between the movie and the comics was the fact that the Winter Soldier was associated with Hydra rather than the Red Room. This separates his story line from Black Widow’s. In the comics, the Winter Soldier was in the Red Room, training girls in the Black Widow Ops program that they had deemed worthy enough to be taught by him. Natasha was one of the few to be selected to train with him. But, if he was never involved in training in the Red Room, there is very little chance of his and Natasha’s paths crossing.
After finding out about Natasha’s change of age and Winter Soldier’s change of alliance, I was getting worried. The chemistry between the two of them, be it romantic or not, is extraordinary and I’ve never seen a pair of characters work so well together both in and out of combat. I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of screen time of them working with each other, but I still hoped. I thought Marvel had let me down up until one of the most important fight scenes. Winter Soldier had just crashed the car that Steve, Sam and Natasha were and in, and he and the Hydra agents were trying to kill them. Natasha gets off of the bridge and runs away from them, attempting to find cover. Some of the Hydra agents move to follow her and finish her off, but Bucky stops them. He tells them to go after Steve and that he’ll take care of her. Taking out Captain America was his mission and he pointedly ignored it to go after the Black Widow. That one line of dialog and the following fight between them gave me so much hope for the next Captain America movie.
Throughout the movie, there were little details that I had noticed that made the experience that much better, like the subtle reference to Hawkeye with Natasha’s arrow necklace or when someone name dropped Stephen Strange, leading to the speculation of Marvel producing a Doctor Strange movie. Even Steve’s little notebook that he carries around to jot down random things he missed when he was asleep caught my attention. And how could any self respecting “Community” fan forget about Danny Pudi’s cameo? However, my favorite small detail in the movie was when Natasha used her Widow’s Bite to take out an enemy.
Any avid comic book reader knows Bucky Barnes’ most popular comic book panel, and we all couldn’t wait for it to be recreated on the big screen. I’m speaking of the ever-so famous “Who the hell is Bucky?” panel. I had no idea how they were going to execute it in the movie, I just hoped they didn’t mess it up. When it did come, I was practically shaking in my seat from excitement. Once Steve knocked Winter Soldier’s mask to the ground, I anticipated
the line coming. Steve took a good look at the man with the metal arm and said, incredibly confused, “…Bucky?”. The audience waits with bated breath as the Winter Soldier delivers his line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”. The live action scene is just as breathtaking and intense as the one on the pages of the comic. People who went into the theater not knowing anything about Captain America or the Winter Soldier were awestruck by the sudden plot twist. Meanwhile, the people with prior knowledge were taken aback by the phenomenal performance of such an impractical moment in the Captain America comic books. Both Chris Evans(Steve Rogers) and Sebastian Stan(Bucky Barnes) couldn’t have acted out that scene any better.
Even when the movie didn’t quite follow the story of the comics, I was still happy in the end. Even if Natasha is 30 instead of 86 and the Winter Soldier is working with Hydra instead of the Red Room, I still have faith that Marvel can make the story lines work in a way that’s similar to the one in the comic universe. Just because they changed certain things, that doesn’t mean it’s bad in any sense. In fact, during an interview in March, the directors of the movie, Joe and Anthony Russo, mention that Ed Brubaker “was involved every step of the way.”
I’m very excited to see what Marvel does with the next movie and how they will progress the stories of Black Widow, Winter Soldier and Falcon. Maybe they’ll introduce even more characters to the MCU. Hell, maybe I’ll finally get the Black Widow movie I’ve been waiting for. And maybe with Chris Evans taking a break from acting once his 6 movie contract runs out and Sebastian Stan’s 9 movie contract with Marvel, we’ll get to see Bucky filling the mantle of Captain America. Maybe.