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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Yes. Bucky's struggle for redemption -- his guilt and self-doubt and desire to do the right thing -- is such a fundamental part of who he is (and one of the main points it seems like a lot of the people writing him at Marvel recently seem to be missing ...). I guess that, even as damaged as he is in the MCU, I want to believe that when you scrape away all his top layers and get down to the fundamental core of him, what you get is not a hardened killer but instead the basic humanity that Hydra couldn't stamp out.
when you scrape away all his top layers and get down to the fundamental core of him, what you get is not a hardened killer but instead the basic humanity that Hydra couldn't stamp out.
I think this is very clearly evidenced by his reactions to Steve in the third act. There was still that basic kernel of who he was and when he said "i remember him" that was as good as solid proof of the fact, IMO.