captain america shield

One of the many resounding questions after the era-ending Avengers: Endgame was: Who would become the next Captain America? Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) had hung up the mantle and passed on the iconic shield to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), his friend and ally whose rise from Air Force PTSD counselor to a full-fledged member of Avengers was something to behold.

But many fans wondered why Steve didn’t pass on the mantle to his longtime friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), whose kidnapping and brainwashing by HYDRA formed a major part of Steve’s arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As we get closer to the debut of Disney+’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which shows how Sam and Bucky struggle with Captain America’s legacy, Stan explains why Bucky’s arc doesn’t allow for him to become the next Captain America.

A year after the release of Avengers: Endgame, one of its final scenes is still a source of contention for fans of Steve Rogers and his tragic relationship with Bucky Barnes. In the Marvel Comics, Bucky assumes the identity of Captain America after Steve Rogers’ death (he soon got better), though Sam Wilson is the most current new incarnation of Captain America. Although Endgame takes a few cues from the comics with Steve Rogers retiring from the identity in old age, Steve hands the shield only to Sam, letting him take on the mantle. But where does that leave Bucky? According to Stan in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Steve passing on the shield to Sam actually gives Bucky a new lease on life.

“Where we arrived with him at the end [of Avengers: Endgame] felt more like he was in a place with a desire for some sort of release: to start over, start life again in a way, find out who he is again on his own and leave all this behind. Yes, it all happened, but at some point, you gotta own your mistakes, what happened and try to start over,” Stan told THR, adding:

“That’s where I felt like the character was at the end of Avengers: Endgame. It’s also what he wanted for Steve. Like anybody that ends up traumatized by a war experience, he was affected by it for the rest of his life. So, what felt like a desire there was for a restart — for him and for Steve in a way. It didn’t necessarily feel like the shield was gonna be that. Steve going back in time and saying, ‘I’m gonna take something for me now. I’ve been here for all these guys, and I’ve done the best I could. I’m just a man, and I’m going to go back and try to live my life.'”

The shield would have been more of a burden for Bucky, who is still recovering from decades of being brainwashed into a weapon by HYDRA. A journey that will be covered in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will pick up after the events of Avengers: Endgame and see Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, and Bucky, AKA the Winter Soldier dealing with the “new” Captain America. Reports indicate that the person who ends up taking over for Cap – at least at first – is Wyatt Russell as John Walker, a much more militaristic version of Captain America:

“I feel that is something that Bucky would want for his best friend, and at the same time, Steve is saying to Bucky, ‘You’re going to go and do that, too. I’m not going to put this thing on you. We’re both going to live our lives — the lives that were actually taken from us back in the ‘40s when we enlisted.’ So, that’s where I felt they were at the end of the movie. I don’t think there’s a desire or any conflicted thoughts about taking on that mantle. Sam, to me, was always the clear man to take on that mantle for numerous reasons, which also comes with so much more baggage that’s going to be explored in the show. I guess you’ll have to tune into Disney+ to find out why. (Laughs.) At the end of Endgame, for either Steve or Bucky, it’s really not about the shield.”

The series also sees the return of Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo, the villain of Captain America: Civil War who reactivates Bucky for his own means. So that may play a big part in Bucky’s arc in the series.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres on Disney+ in August 2020.

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