James Buchanan Barnes (Winter Soldier)

Winter SoldierAnd here we are, looking at the character who gives his name to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s always Sebastian Stan under the mask in the Winter Soldier costume, but he comes back in much a creepier and meaner way than he did in the first movie. In the trailer, we saw him attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D. cargo and sending Nick Fury to the hospital, and he also battled his former friend and ally, Captain America, succeeding where everybody else failed: catching the stars-and-stripes themed shield mid-air with his bionic arm! Now, it’s too soon to tell if there’s some difference between the movie version and the comics one, but, at least from an aesthetic point of view, the rendering is almost the same, with just the mask being slightly different. Let’s see together who this new formidable enemy is.

When Baron Zemo announced to the whole world that he had killed both Captain America and Bucky, many started to search for the body of the heroes. Among them, there was Russian Colonel Vasily Karpov, who was commanding a submarine near the spot in which the drone exploded. He couldn’t find Cap’s body, but he found Bucky’s mangled one. The boy was missing the left arm and was almost frozen, but he was still alive. The Russians gave him first cures, in order to keep him alive long enough to search for traces of Super Soldier Serum in his body (Karpov believed him to be Captain America). Of course, they couldn’t find anything useful, but they decided not to kill Bucky, nor to give him back to the United States: they kept the boy’s survival secret, and put him in cryostasis, waiting for him to become a useful asset. This happened only in 1954, in the middle of the Cold War. Bucky was awaken from his long slumber, and his left arm was replaced with a cybernetic one (the first one would have been later replaced by a more advanced one, and so on and so on). The trauma of the explosion and the cryostasis made him amnesiac, and he couldn’t remember anything about his past. While his wintersoldiercomics1mind had no memory at all, his body was all another matter, and he was still an amazing hand-to-hand combatant and an extremely skilled marksman. In the first months of his rebirth, he underwent a hard mental reprogramming, and, through sensory deprivation, brainwashing and indoctrination, he was brought to hate Western countries with all his soul, especially America. He received a new codename, the Winter Soldier, and, because of his skills, he soon became the best spy and assassin at the orders of the Kremlin. He also started training Soviet spies and agents: among them, he met a very skilled one, Natasha Romanoff, who he nicknamed the Black Widow. The two became lovers, even if Natasha had already a marriage arranged with KGB agent Alexi Shostakov, a pilot hero. The love story between James and Natasha ended when she discovered that her lover was put in cryostasis everytime he wasn’t needed for a mission (this way, his aging was slowed, and the Soviets could have used him for decades): since she didn’t want to stay with a killing machine, she eventually married Alexi and disappeared from the Winter Soldier’s life.

During the following years, the Winter Soldier became responsible of many strategic assassinations (he even killed Wolverine‘s pregnant wife Itsu), but he demostrated mental instability during more than one mission, a sign that his psyche was rejecting the Soviet programming. After serving as Vasily Karpov’s bodyguard for most of the 80s, the Winter Soldier was hired by General Aleksander Lukin, an ambitious officer who, when the Soviet Union collapsed, went rogue and founded the Kronas Oil Corporation, a multi-national company which Lukin could use to implement his power. Eager to collect the Red Skull‘s new Cosmic Cube, Lukin ordered the Winter wintersoldiercomics2Soldier to kill the Nazi war criminal. Barnes tracked down the Skull, and shot him dead with a single bullet; he then proceeded to kill Nomad, aka the adventurer Jack Monroe, and to frame him for the assassination. To enpower the Cube, he also detonated a bomb in the middle of Philadelphia, causing tens of deaths that gave the Cube energy. Unfortunately, before dying, the Red Skull had used the Cosmic Cube to transfer his mind into Aleksander Lukin, and the two consciousness were now struggling for control. Lukin didn’t know this in a conscious way, but he nevertheless felt a sense of uneasiness he linked to the Cube. The Winter Soldier was ordered to put the Cube in a nuclear safe vault in Virginia, away from Lukin, but it was there that Nick Fury and Captain America finally found him. The two were investigating the Red Skull’s murder, and had found out about the Soldier’s existence and true identity. A fight ensued among Cap and the Soldier, with the first trying to make his best friend recover his memory, and the other trying his best to destroy the man who stood for everything he was programmed to hate. Finally, Captain America got hold of the Cosmic Cube, and used it to restore Bucky’s memory. James Barnes was finally back, but the weight of all the killings and the mass-murders he committed as the Winter Soldier overwhelmed him. Ashamed and unable to face his friend and mentor, Bucky used the Cosmic Cube to teleport himself away, in an open hunt for Lukin and the Red Skull, and in a desperate trip to redemption.

His “death” has left quite a scar on Bucky Barnes’ soul, a trauma that never healed properly. The Soviet brainwashing brought to the surface all the rage and violence Bucky was keeping deep into his subconscious, and transformed him into a ruthless and pitiless killing machine, a man who has no remorse at all in killing even civilians, being them women or children. The amazing war training Bucky went through survived into the Winter Soldier, and he is still one of the best armed and unarmed combatants in the world; plus, the Soviets transformed him into a superb spy and an infallible killer, one of their best agents ever. With Bucky’s personality and memories back, the Winter Soldier is a desperate, self-hating man seeking redemption for a past made of blood he spilt and sufferings he caused.



  1. in captain america the winter soldier 2014 film they put him in the cryo tank with the cybernetic arm

    • Not everything in the movie is the same as in the comics, nor it is supposed to be 😉

  2. […] exposed and dismantled, Sitwell preferred to follow Fury in his underground missions with the Winter Soldier rather than coming back to S.H.I.E.L.D., proving once again his […]

  3. […] mess, and Nick Fury himself is sent to hospital after a brutal attack by unknown forces led by the Winter Soldier. Now, in the comics, Falcon didn’t start as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and his costume is much […]

  4. […] Guardian. She entered KGB, and her training was perfectioned even more under the guide of the Winter Soldier, a cyber-enanced veteran who made her become the greatest spy ever lived, and became her lover for […]

  5. […] for a guy with two different incarnations, just as we did with Green Goblin/Iron Patriot or Bucky/Winter Soldier. In the movie, Ben Hardy will portray Warren Worthington III, a young winged mutant who, judging […]

  6. […] as the one against the mercenary Boomerang, the deranged vigilante Punisher, the war criminal Winter Soldier and many others. He also started a cooperation with a famous superhuman lawyer, Jennifer […]

  7. […] Civil War. The movie opens with a flashback, in which we see a Russian Hydra agent waking the Winter Soldier up for a mission, reactivating his mind control to be able to give him orders: that’s Vasily […]

  8. […] been orchestrated by Hydra, but now we know that the executioner was none other than the Winter Soldier himself. Finally having a face we can relate to, let’s see who the original Maria Stark is […]

  9. […] of course everything was meant to change once again: when General Alexander Lukin ordered the Winter Soldier to kill the Red Skull, and he accomplished his mission, the Skull’s underlings followed a […]

  10. […] wakes up, having been freed by Shuri of Hydra‘s conditioning, and apparently free from his Winter Soldier persona. The kids in the hut call him a name comics reader are quite familiar with: White Wolf, the […]

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