Winter Soldier Bucky

How about an unpopular fannish opinion for the MCU

Still feeling unusually chatty, so here, have an opinion. (Obvious disclaimer applies: this is just me, and there is nothing wrong with anyone feeling different about it. There are many people who love it for reasons equally valid to why I don't!)

It's a trope that appears in quite a bit of post-Winter Soldier fic ...

Namely, Bucky going on a Hydra-slaughtering, blowing-up-buildings, torturing-people-for-information round-the-world rampage.

I can see why people write it. Heck, if anyone is entitled to a bit of revenge at this point, it's him. I guess that where it breaks down for me, though, is ... lemme see if I can articulate this ...

The root of the problem for me is two things:

a) I feel like Bucky's early weeks and months after breaking Hydra's control are going to be very formative in the kind of person that post-WS Bucky becomes, and

b) I don't think that Bucky immediately after CA:TWS has enough emotional nuance and general in-depth comprehension of people's motivations to be able to distinguish between Hydra and people who merely happen to be in the vicinity of Hydra ... or even to understand (yet) why it matters.

So basically I guess that, while it's not that I find it impossible to imagine him doing this (it's definitely an in-character possibility, anyway), it seems like the most depressing of all possible outcomes to me. I can't really imagine this happening without a lot of collateral damage, and the idea of Bucky starting to come back to himself and realize that he's killed a bunch of people, innocent and otherwise, after being let off Hydra's leash is unspeakably awful. I already think he's going to have to struggle with believing himself a monster for the things he did on Hydra's orders, and the one mental "out" that he has, the one thing that could possibly stop him from descending into an unstoppable downward spiral of self-loathing, is that he didn't have any choice about it; he was literally forced into it. But if you take that and add the additional wrinkle that, once he did have a choice, what he chose to do was go ahead and kill a bunch of people anyway ...

... I just can't see this ending well AT ALL, I guess is what I'm saying. Either he never really comes back to himself because blood and killing is all he's ever known and still all he knows, or he does start to come back from the edge and realize that Other People Are People Too and then he's basically going to eat his own gun, or at the very least run from Steve FOREVER out of guilt and shame.

Not to mention that if Bucky does go on a multi-country killing spree, I really can't see Steve being given that much time to deal with it before someone else (Nick Fury most likely, maybe one of the other Avengers) is going to step in and take care of the problem for him.

I suppose the way that most people deal with it in fic is to have Bucky only kill bad people, but that seems too pat, too convenient .... and not that plausible. I guess where that breaks down for me (besides the fact that I still don't think it's healthy to have mass murder be his first formative experiences as a starting-to-be-independent human being) is that I really don't think he's capable of making those judgment calls accurately yet. (I mean, to the extent that anyone ever can; everyone struggles with separating the bad guys from the good guys, even Steve.) But ... I mean, even if you make the assumption that he's capable of making the call on a large-grained macroscopic level (Hydra scientists are evil --> My mission is to kill Hydra scientists only -- rather than, say, bombing an entire building just to get the one Hydra scientist inside) how well is he going to deal with things like, say, distinguishing between Hydra scientists who insist they aren't Hydra scientists, and regular people who insist they aren't Hydra scientists? Or relatives of Hydra scientists who happen to be living with them? Or Hydra janitors? Or people who have the misfortune of occupying the business above the secret Hydra base, who may or may not be aware of it ...?

On some level I guess this is a preferred-characterization thing, since I also react fairly negatively to meta of the "Bucky was always the Winter Soldier" variety, because no .... I mean, yes, he definitely always had darkness and the capacity to deal violence inside him, but I think it's pretty clear in TFA that he wouldn't have chosen that life if he hadn't been first of all drafted, and second of all feeling the moral imperative to protect Steve -- he goes to war out of a combination of necessity and personal responsibility, not because it's something that he likes or wants to do. And Bucky choosing a revenge quest post-TWS feels uncomfortably far across the "choosing to do it" line. .... in part because it's revenge on his own behalf, not to protect others or even in revenge for hurting someone else. (I mean, you could make the argument that what Steve does at the end of TFA is exactly this, a Hydra killing spree in revenge for Bucky's death, but somehow it feels different to me that Steve isn't doing it on his own behalf. Maybe that's just a hair-splitting distinction at heart, though ...)

But I feel like it's very important for Bucky, in the immediate post-TWS period, to be able to make a complete break with his past -- to be able to say "This is what you made me, but this is not all I am; I'm choosing something different". And later, when he's in a slightly healthier headspace and has a stronger sense of self, he can engage again with his own capacity to deal violence. But it really doesn't feel like the right option to me now. It feels to me that this is a road, once he starts down it, he's not going to be able to come back from.

I am open to other opinions, however! Lay it on me if you have counter-arguments for the above. Or if you just want to explain why the trope works for you. :)


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Ha, yeah -- I think that basically nails it for me. Both aspects of it, actually: canon is awful enough that I just want to get past the awful and get to the recovery part, and it's also hard to believe you could pile on EVEN MORE awful and still have anything of Bucky left to recover. (This actually makes it kind of difficult writing any sort of h/c in the fandom that doesn't involve dealing with problems he's already got; doing anything else to him at this point just seems unreasonably malicious.)

I am pretty sure I've never fanned on a character whose life is such an unmitigated pile of absolute suck as Bucky's. In fact, it's difficult to imagine how anything worse is even POSSIBLE.

Highlander .... did tend to stretch one's creativity in terms of thinking of ways to push the characters' limits while still working within the canonical "can't be killed and heal almost instantly" boundaries. I can totally see what you mean and I think I remember some fic that had that effect on me, too, or at least took the characters to darker places than I was personally willing to go.

... and I think that's an aspect of it for me with post-WS fic, too, because I don't really want to go dark places with these characters. They've already been through so much. I don't want to watch them be drenched in any more blood; I want the blood-drenching to stop for a while so they can heal! So, on that level, it's not a problem with the actual fic tropes or plausibility thereof -- it's just a personal preference.

And yeah, like you said and for me too, there are situations in which this could totally work for me. It just doesn't really in this case.
Like you, I've gone pretty damn far as far as dark places are concerned with Bucky already in canon.

I can imagine some darkfic where Bucky is taken even further, which would be beautiful but I suspect we aren't talking about that scenario here :) And I'm not a huge fan of darkfic anyway.


Edited at 2014-06-23 05:23 pm (UTC)