Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier

Sebastian Stan Says He Doesn’t Think Bucky Is Ready to Be Captain America—Yet

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Sebastian Stan can’t tell us flat-out if Marvel has plans to pass Cap’s shield onto his lifelong best friend, Bucky Barnes. If he did, Marvel agents would find and disappear him. But Stan can talk about how he feels about the matter.

On a panel at Wizard World St. Louis, Stan was asked whether he’d like to play Captain America in the MCU following Chris Evans’ departure. In the comics, Bucky/The Winter Soldier steps into the stars and stripes after Steve Rogers is presumed dead in Civil War. Stan revealed in 2014 that he was locked into a nine-picture contract deal for Marvel, which led many of us to assume that the MCU envisioned him as the next Cap.

Since his change of heart at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier, Bucky appears to be on a slow and painful path to redemption, and the events of Infinity War and Avengers 4 could prime the way toward warming a larger audience up to the idea of BuckyCap.

Here was Stan’s vague but intriguing response to whether he wants to heft that shield:

“I mean, yeah I would love that one day, absolutely.

I don’t know when that day would be, and I just think … it would be a very different Captain America you know, you wouldn’t be able to have the same Captain America as you have right now because he’s a different guy.”

Stan also seems to think that Bucky still has a considerable narrative ways to go before he’s “trustworthy enough” to fill Cap’s shoes. Many of us who love Bucky Barnes and are invested in his backstory and his relationship with Steve wouldn’t blink to see BuckyCap enter the MCU. But we have to remember that for the majority of MCU movie-goers, this isn’t necessarily the case. They’ve primarily seen Bucky as the villain from Winter Soldier and as a driving force of the rift between the Avengers.

A huge part of the schism between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in Civil War was because of Bucky, who murdered Tony’s parents while brainwashed. Steve ultimately fights Tony (with Bucky’s help) and throws down his shield rather than renounce his friend. I’m Team Cap all the way, but I’m aware that not everyone is. Bucky would need some major heroic moments of redemption onscreen—and maybe Tony Stark shaking his hand someday—before the MCU audience at large is likely to smile upon him as Captain America.

When we left him in Civil War, Bucky was a loose cannon, capable of being “triggered” into his brainwashed programming, which is why he turned himself over to T’Challa’s care. As Stan goes on to point out in his St. Louis answer:

“Again, there’s this issue where we’ve got to get him to be trustworthy enough for them to give him that responsibility, you know, to fill those shoes, and those are hard shoes to fill.

So I think it’s possible, I really do, but it just has to make sense and we might need a little more time.”

With this no doubt publicist-vetted diplomatic answer, Stan manages to absolutely not shut down the idea of BuckyCap but also give no indication that it’s likely to happen within the frame of the next few movies. There’s also Anthony Mackie’s Falcon—Steve’s latter-day best friend—who also takes up the Cap mantle in the comics. Falcon is popular with fans and it’s always been equally plausible that Marvel could go in that direction. Maybe even Marvel isn’t sure which way it’s going. After all, they’re only just developing a Black Widow movie, in which The Winter Soldier could potentially prominently figure.

I love Anthony Mackie’s Falcon/Sam Wilson and would be thrilled to see him as the next Captain America—if there has to be another Captain America at all. I like the niches that these characters have carved for themselves and see no reason why they need to inherit more famous titles save for marketing purposes.

If I could make a Marvel Cap-related movie tomorrow, it would be a buddy comedy/action/drama/adventure starring Bucky and Sam. The two already have a great snarky fun dynamic on-screen, and the actors are friends. What better way to solve a problem like the absence of Steve Rogers than to have his best friends team up?

(via Cinemablend, image: Marvel)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.