Sebastian Stan Thought He Was Going To Play Bucky Barnes For Only One Movie

Everyone can probably agree that the Marvel Cinematic Universe lucked out in terms of pitch-perfect casting in the early going, ignoring potential backlash (or, in the case of Robert Downey, Jr., significant insurance concerns) to cast leading stars who would go on to define these roles and characters to the point that it became impossible to even consider recasting in order to keep Iron Man or Captain America's storylines going. Instead, Marvel has pivoted towards passing down the mantles of those legacy characters to their supporting cast instead. Once Chris Evans' Steve Rogers called it quits in "Avengers: Endgame," the natural path to moving forward centered on Sam Wilson's Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier.

While Wilson took on the actual Captain America title at the conclusion of "Endgame" (and subsequently doing so once more in the Disney+ series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"), longtime franchise stalwart Sebastian Stan has continued to appear as Steve's best friend Bucky in various supporting roles over the years. Stan himself has stayed busy even outside the Marvel machine, starring in the recent Hulu series "Pam & Tommy" and in the upcoming movie "Fresh." But in an interview with Vanity Fair (via THR), the actor looked back at the franchise role that started with him gunning for the character of Steve Rogers himself and eventually transformed from a (presumed) one-and-done appearance as Bucky Barnes to a recurring role that would unfold over the next decade of his life. As he tells it:

"I certainly did not know that I would be playing the role for 10 years. I remember going in for the Steve Rogers role and not getting it. And then being told about this role [as Bucky] and where it could go. But it didn't seem like there was any commitment, really."

Check out Sebastian Stan's full comments in the video below (with the Marvel talk beginning around the 7-minute mark).

Sebastian Stan looks back

Though many viewers like to believe that Marvel plans every major and minor facet of the franchise well in advance, the truth is that the studio has perfected the art of staying light on their feet and adjusting course based on how each film unfolds. When "Captain America: The First Avenger" first released in 2011, comic book fans knew that Bucky falling to his apparent death during an action sequence late in the film likely indicated Marvel's intention to adapt the beloved "Winter Soldier" arc from the comics ... assuming that the film performed well enough to justify sequels, of course. Now, if only someone had told Sebastian Stan the same thing! Later in the same Vanity Fair interview, the actor continues to look back at his humble beginnings in the MCU and his assumption that he'd only ever appear in the very first film.

"I knew at the end of the story, I was going to fall off this train, and then I was going to be given this green sleeve, which would indicate that I would be losing this arm and then I could go into 'The Winter Soldier' storyline. That was the only indication I had that I could potentially be coming back, but no one said anything to me. Then, basically on the day we were shooting that scene, they were like, 'Yeah, we're not going to be doing that green sleeve.' And I just thought, 'Oh. That's it. I'm just going to die on that train. There's no coming back.' But they just didn't know what arm they were going to use or something, and it kept going from there."

That's understating the situation, as Stan would go on to appear in several more films (including a batch of post-credits scenes), reprise his role by voicing Bucky in the animated "What If...?" series, and even co-lead an entire Disney+ streaming series of his own alongside Anthony Mackie. Marvel tends to play things safe by building options into every star's contract for potential appearances down the line, but it's safe to say that fans and the actor himself are thrilled to see how his role as Bucky Barnes has progressed over the years. We likely haven't seen the last of Stan in the MCU just yet, especially with Anthony Mackie's Falcon gearing up for a movie of his own in the near future.