Who is… The Winter Soldier?

Luke Owen gives us the lowdown on Captain America’s newest adversary, Winter Soldier…

Announced at Comic-Con along with Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy was the title of the sequel to Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The Winter Soldier.

This came more or less as no surprise to fans of the Marvel Universe, because the events of Captain America: The First Avenger were pointing quite clearly to this outcome. But, for those of you who are not into comic books or comic history, let me educate on you on who Winter Solider is.

As with my Guardians post, there are spoilers here for Captain America: The First Avenger but not The Avengers

Winter Soldier

In the comic book world, James “Bucky” Barnes was Captain America’s sidekick and one of the first people to discover Steve’s true identity. They fought together side by side against the Red Skull and the Nazis successfully until the closing moments of World War II, where Bucky was apparently killed in a plane explosion caused by Baron Zemo. Captain America on the other hand was frozen and would be awoken in present day by The Avengers.

However, Bucky was in fact not dead. He had also been preserved and was discovered by Vasily Karpov, a Russian General who revived Bucky in 1960s Moscow. Bucky had not been quite as lucky with his preservation as Steve had as he had lost an arm and suffered from brain damage and amnesia. With the help of Karpov and his science team, Bucky was given a new bionic arm and a new codename – Winter Solider, a Soviet agent for Department X who undertook covert operations as a Russian agent.

During his time as an agent he had a brief fling with The Black Widow, aided in Wolverine’s escape from the Weapon X lab and murdered his wife Itsu and supposedly his unborn son Daken, who it turns out survived his mother’s death. He also seemingly kills the Red Skull and Nomad and attempts a terrorist attack on Philadelphia, trying to get the Cosmic Cube for his new General Aleksander Lukin. It was here that he was finally revealed to S.H.I.E.L.D. when he kidnaps Captain American’s former lover Sharon Carter. After Captain America tracks him down and gets the Cosmic Cube back, Bucky remembers who he really is and wracked with guilt, he destroys the Cosmic Cube and teleports away.

Bucky would later reappear in London to help Captain America prevent a terrorist attack and he asks Nick Fury for a job with S.H.I.E.L.D. Following the Superhuman Civil War and Steve Rogers’ assassination, Bucky takes over the mantle of Captain America which he keeps until he is “killed” by Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull, during ‘Fear Itself’. Now back as Winter Soldier, he teams up with his once-again-lover The Black Widow to track down the KBG agents he once trained.

What can we expect from the movie version?

Going by the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, we can assume that Bucky will be found by the Russians following his supposed death. In the comics, the Russians keep Winter Solider in cryo-stasis to preserve his age (it would take him a year to age a couple of days) and I imagine this plot thread will carry over into the movie so that he can once again be played by Sebastian Stan, who has been confirmed to be reprising his role. I highly doubt they will bring back the Cosmic Cube (or the Tesseract as its known in the Cinematic Universe) as we’ve seen enough of that in the previous movies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept the backstory of his relationship with The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

There is also an extra element to this cinematic version of Winter Soldier, as we can assume the Nazis already ran tests on Bucky when Captain America (Chris Evans) found him during his first solo mission. Perhaps they’ll leave out the Russians and have the Nazis find him to either bring back the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) as the film’s antagonist, or perhaps introduce Baron Zemo. Another possibility could be to introduce Skull’s daughter Sin, but the problem with that is that you essentially have the same villain you had in the first movie.

On the face of things, the battle and feud between Captain America and Winter Soldier will be more interesting in the movie than it is in the books. In Captain America: The First Avenger, the unsettlement between Bucky and Rogers was subtly set up with his jealousy towards Peggy Carter’s attraction to Steve and her ignorance of him. Even the delivery of his line, “let’s hear it for Captain America” sounds so insincere, phony and laced with jealousy. I highly doubt that was the intention of either scene (as they probably would have played into it more), but seeing what has happened in the Cinematic Universe to date you wouldn’t be too surprised if that was the case.

I’m really excited for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, even more so than I was before the title announcement. I still think the brilliance of the movie will be the ‘man out of time’ story that they didn’t have time to tell in The Avengers, but this added element of his best friend coming back from the dead as someone they once fought together to stop should make for a really great movie.

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

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  • I think you could be right that they'll change Winter Soldier to have him as a Nazi or Hydra agent. Makes sense to update his origin and like you say, they already seem to have been running tests on him based on what we've seen in The First Avenger.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the red in black widows ledger refers to bucky