Monday, April 18, 2016

Real Name: James "Bucky" Barnes
First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (March, 1941)
Fight Club Ranking: #47

Featured Fights:
- vs RED SKULL & NAZIS: Captain America #5 (May 2005)
- vs WOLVERINE: Wolverine #39 (Apr 2006)
- vs CROSSBONES: Captain America #25 (Apr 2007)
- vs THE HOOD & DORMAMMU: New Avengers #54 (Aug 2009)

A big week of news, rumors and impending TV finales had several contenders duking it out for this week's coveted HOTW. If Dr. Strange hadn't already had his turn [01/04/2016], we might be talking about the promising first trailer for November's Marvel movie mystic. In the end, it was the other big show coming to town that pulled focus from all the rest!

Captain America: Civil War officially opens in wide theatrical release May 6th, but has already started to trickle out across the globe. In stark contrast to DC's recent big screen heavyweight main event; advanced reviews for Marvel's philosophically driven supercard have been mostly positive.

If my personal anticipation was curbed by the malaise of Marvel's frequently formulaic big screen bouts, the promotional pollen has finally stirred a sneeze of excitement. One of the more intriguing pieces of the puzzle getting up my nose in the last week: Winter Soldier.

After starring as the conflicted titular menace of "Captain America 2", it was par for the course that Winter Soldier would be back for more. His path back to the side of angels was a given, as well, but what I didn't necessarily expect was a reunion of real consequence. The overwhelming amount of moving pieces in Civil War made it easy to presume a smooth team-up between Cap and his old buddy Bucky to make up numbers. By all accounts, his role is much more important than that. If you're avoiding spoilers, you may want to look away now!

It seems the chequered past of Winter Soldier's programming has made him the perfect patsy to start the war between heroes. He's implicated in a terrorist attack (presumably against Wakanda), which has him in Iron Man's firing line in a recently released clip [above]. The sequence also brings Black Panther [HOTW 01/18/2016] into play in a moment that teases his supreme fighting skill and dogged determination. Can't wait to see more of him!

It's all more than likely the work of Daniel Bruhl's maskless Helmut Zemo, who's already drawing flattering comparisons to Batman v Superman puppet master: Lex Luthor.

I'll be disappointed to go a whole film without seeing the classic purple mask of the Zemo bloodline, but I'll take a well conceived plot over jabbering millennial nonsense any day. Tying Winter Soldier and Black Panther together, in conjunction with other tensions building to a movement for superhero registration, certainly strikes me as intelligent, economic storytelling. Something Civil War will no doubt need if it's to pull off its assembly of warring factions.

Of course, this Civil War seems to have less vitriolic grand designs than the bitter struggle staged by Marvel Comics in 2006 [see; Civil War]. For a while there, I genuinely thought Chris Evans would exit the series in the same way Captain America did - dying at the conclusion of the comics event. It certainly seems like the entire Marvel movie universe was built with understudies in mind. I'm not ruling it out, but Downey Jr's eternally uncertain future seems to make Cap all the more important to plans to move forward. Yes, new heroes are coming, but you need a statesman to stitch it all together.

On that subject; I have to admit to still having misgivings about the "resurrection" of Bucky. That the stories resulting from his return have been interesting helps a great deal, but I'll never be totally at peace with the removal of a unique piece of fictional history. For decades, he was one of comics' perennial deaths - a guarded sacrifice. The serial nature of comics provides so few legitimate chances to remove a major player from the board. His death was a practical, meaningful choice that never needed to be undone. Not if comics were moving forward, as they should.

The idea of death and a more realistic progression of time and heroes in the films is an interesting concept. Contract negotiation as in-fiction life and death. Retiring roles sure beats re-casting with burdened new faces, but does anyone really expect Disney to permanently discard major players if they don't have to?

They seem to want us to think War Machine's life is in peril in the films, but really, I just get the impression they wanted one armored hero on the powerful Team Tony. You can't kill off Rhodey. Coulson's death in Avengers already flirted with the meaningless carousel of mortality the comics have bogged themselves down in. Here's hoping the movies resist the same mistakes. We shall see!

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