After what seemed like an eternity, the curtain closed on over ten years of MCU awesomeness with Avengers: Endgame. While the ending was pretty satisfying it also left fans with a lot of questions heading into the new phase.
The speculation over who would take up the mantle of Captain America has been bubbling under the surface ever since the MCU introduced us to The Winter Soldier and The Falcon way back in 2014. With Chris Evans tweeting about retiring from the role before Endgame dropped, we always knew that Steve Rogers would have to choose a successor.
And he did…
At the end of Endgame an aged Steve Rogers comes back to hand over the shield to Sam / Falcon.
“How does it feel?” Steve asks.
“Like it’s someone else’s,” Sam answers.
“It isn’t,” Steve tells him.
“I’ll do my best,” Sam assures him.
While this is all very poetic (because the essence of Captain America is about doing your best no matter what the odds are) was Sam/Falcon really the right choice?
Why Bucky was the more logical choice…
Comic Book Lore
If you’re making movies based on comic books they should be based on the comic books – especially the big stuff! Going by the source material, it was Bucky Barnes who took up the mantle of Captain America after Steve Rogers’ untimely death. Consistency is important.
All The Markings Of A Hero
In the MCU timeline, James Buchanan Barnes (born March 10, 1917) enlisted with the army to serve his country in World War II. He spent the next three years fighting in a horrific war until he went MIA in 1945. During this time he was captured and handed over to Hydra to become the first member of their “Winter Soldier program”.
He was constantly brainwashed and kept cryogenically frozen between missions. Despite the odds stacked against him, Bucky fought persistently to overcome his brainwashing. His attempts were futile, but with the help of King T’Challa, and the technology on Wakanda he was finally able to be himself again. This back-story clearly has “hero” written all over it.
“I’m With You Till the End of the Line.”
Ever since we were introduced to Steve and Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger, it was pretty clear that these characters had a brotherly bond. That bond and Steve’s loyalty to Bucky was a key factor in the chaos during Captain America: Civil War. So it doesn’t really make sense for Steve to skip over Bucky when passing on his legacy and shield.
While Captain America may have had the only successful dose of the Super Soldier Serum, Bucky Barnes is a super soldier in his own right. He also has some useful gadgets that give him the upper hand in combat. He has formidable skills with assault rifles, combat knives and grenades.
And thanks to the folks on Wakanda he has a new vibranium cybernetic arm which can project energy, discharge an EMP, project holographs and enhance his reaction time. Sure, Sam worked with the military too, but the bionic arm gives Bucky a clear advantage.
In both the comic books and movies, Bucky Barnes has always been one of the most iconic villain-turned-heroes of all time. As the Winter Soldier, he was created to rival Steve Rogers in every way. Serving a unique mirror of Steve’s abilities and traits, a redeemed Bucky Barnes should have been the obvious choice when passing on the Captain America torch.
Being a hero isn’t always about being the perfect soldier. There’s no doubt that Bucky Barnes is flawed and has made some huge mistakes (albeit while he was brainwashed). But over time he has worked to redeem himself. Remember, it was his idea to go back on ice while Shuri figured out how to deprogram the Hydra part of his brain.
He’s fiercely loyal, has fought alongside the Avengers and has the ability to lead. Most importantly, he encouraged Sam to talk to the old version of Steve, seemingly having the foresight to know what was coming next. And in spite of his history with Steve, he didn’t mind. That’s a real hero. And that’s why he deserved to be Captain America.