1. What does their bedroom look like?
surprisingly, pretty simple. dark blue walls, twin size bed. he keeps stacks of books that he doesn’t really read on the bedside table and shelves and stacks of comics and magazines that he definitely reads under his bed. the bathroom is across the hall; the closet is tiny and embarrassingly empty, though the inside of the door is taped up with photographs and scraps of notebook paper from notes passed way back when, little memories and bits of the past here and there. a window with sheer white curtains is always closed on the far wall and faces the road. the lamp on the bedside table hasn’t worked in months.
7. Favorite way to waste time and feelings surrounding wasting time
“time enjoyed is never wasted”—this is what he tells himself as he takes meandering walks, trying to believe that his time doing anything is worth the risk and the trouble and the effort.
12. Favorite book genre?
adventure, war—preferably a mix, if possible. there’s a certain rush that comes with war novels, and he’s a sucker for it.
28. Who do they see as their best friend? Their worst enemy?
best friend has to be Steve. no one was there when he needed them more, and in the same way, no one has ever made him feel more needed when given the chance to step up to the plate. no one else can make him feel like a good friend and a good person in the same way.
worst enemy: his own doubts and their ability to counteract.
49. If this person were to get into a fistfight, what is their fighting style like?
bare knuckles, swift and dodgy, focused. he has a tendency to bite his cheek. speed is the key because size doesn’t ever win it with Bucky. the only problem is the little buzz of fear that never goes away; it keeps him on his toes and that’s good enough for him.
Soviet sailor: It’s not Captain America…what is this, Karpov?
Karpov: It is hope, my friend…for the future…
— From Captain America v5, #8 by Ed Brubaker, art by Steve Epting
It’s like I said—I think that, for what the movie required and the way that the script worked out, I can accept the way that Bucky’s character was skewed. While I wish that Bucky’s backstory was explored a little deeper, it would have added a considerable amount of time to the film and drastically changed Steve’s development. For the film’s purpose, it worked that Bucky was set up as the able-bodied, attractive, archetypal soldier. With the pressed dress uniform and the slightly tilted hat, of course he appeared as America’s soldier; Steve, in comparison, was a mouse in ill-fitting pants and suspenders. And before he was Captain America (at least conforming to the time restraints of the film), Steve needed someone that could stick up for him and thin out the having-his-ass-kicked scenes that could’ve dragged on indeterminately. It makes Bucky more sympathetic if he’s that constant.
Now, with all this, I think it’s important to mirror film!Bucky with comic!Bucky. In the comics, James Buchanan Barnes, born in 1925, was an orphaned son of a soldier killed in training at Camp Lehigh just before the U.S. entered World War II. He falls in with military life and eventually discovers Steve’s secret on accident, insisting that he become his sidekick. When the two face the Red Skull, Bucky is fifteen years old. (The military justified putting a 15-year-old in harm’s way by using him as a symbol to rally the youth of America [as revealed in Captain America vol. 5, #12, Dec 2005].) Shortly after the war (fighting a villain which is not the Red Skull), Bucky unsuccessfully attempts to diffuse a bomb mid-air and is presumed killed in action at the age of 20. Later, there’s the whole thing with him returning as Winter Soldier, but since that’s irrelevant in terms of mirroring Bucky to film!Bucky, let’s save it for another post.
Bearing all this in mind, I almost want to say that it’s not even fair to compare Sebastian Stan’s Bucky to the comic book version. However, as he was posed to have the same camaraderie with Steve and is supposed to hold the same emotional weight, one almost has to compare them. I fully understand that the directors had to make the choice of manipulating time and the characters’ association with it. (This brings to mind Steve’s quote from the recent The Avengers: “When I fell asleep, we were at war. When I woke up, they told me we won.”) In the comics, Steve fell after the war; in the film, he didn’t have a choice but to not see the end of the war. So it goes with Bucky as well. They didn’t have time to portray the full five-year span, to show him grow from the gawky teenage boy with bright eyes galloping around an Army camp in a spare uniform making believe he’s at war into the man brave enough to try and untangle the wires in the air. For all intents and purposes, the film version of Bucky had to start out as a man and grow into a better man.
Putting all this into perspective, I understand why they cast Sebastian Stan as Bucky, and I think he did a wonderful job with the reworking of his character. (Clearly, the only feasible thing to do now is to make a movie about Bucky Barnes that follows his comic arc correctly.)
They called him the Winter Soldier. The Soviets used to keep him on ice when they didn’t need him, from what we know it kept him from aging. He was the killing machine. Made our lives hell during the Cold War…and our intel says he’s been awakened.