For His Country

James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes grew up in Brooklyn with the scrawny Steve Rogers. The two became die-hard friends with Barnes sometimes looking out for Rogers who, though small, always stood up for what he thought was right. Barnes even offered for Rogers to come stay with him and his family after Steve’s mother passed away.

Bucky Barnes enlisting in World War II

When World War II broke out in Europe, Barnes and Rogers both enlisted. In 1942, Barnes got word that he would become part of the 107th, though Rogers continued to get passed over for service due to his physical ailments. The night before he shipped out, Barnes wanted to hang out with his best pal and a pair of ladies at the Stark Expo. Barnes stayed with the women when Rogers decided to try one more time to get into the Army, garnering the attention of Dr. Erskine and leading to Rogers’ transformation into Captain America.

Fighting overseas, Barnes and many of his fellow soldiers in the 107th were captured by a HYDRA unit. As their prisoner, Barnes was subjected to experimentation by HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola, until Rogers—going against orders—rescued him and his unit, with the two friends encountering the Red Skull during their escape. Upon arriving back at the Allied base with Captain America and the other freed soldiers, James started a cheer for the flag-clad hero.

Bucky Barnes rescued by Steve Rogers

Barnes passed along some information about HYDRA’s facilities that, combined with what Rogers saw, gave them a clear plan of attack to take out HYDRA bases. Working together with the Howling Commandos, Barnes and Rogers took out many of the bases, with Barnes’ sharpshooting skills saving his best friend during one mission.

On a mission to take Zola from a HYDRA train, Barnes was knocked through a hole in the side of the train while battling HYDRA soldiers. Cap tried to pull him back in, but Bucky lost his grip before he could be saved, plummeting to his apparent doom. Rogers deeply mourned the loss of his friend, assuming him dead. However, Barnes actually survived the fall thanks to the experimentation Zola had performed on him, and it was HYDRA who would make use of the man who would come to be known as the Winter Soldier...

Bucky Barnes and The Howling Commandos

Ready for War

Bucky Barnes starts out as a well-trained soldier in the United States Army. When HYDRA gets their hands on him, they brainwash him, give him a super strong cybernetic left arm and train him to be an absolute killing machine. Barnes goes toe-to-toe with Captain America, Black Panther, and Black Widow, among others, using everything from his fists, knives, and traditional firearms to high-tech grenade launchers and even Captain America’s own shield.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) and his metallic arm

After Shuri helps remove his mental programming, Black Panther gifts Barnes an updated cybernetic arm with which to fight Thanos’ forces.

Decades of Enemies

Aside from the bullies picking on his pal Rogers, Barnes’ first real enemies were the Nazis and the Nazi science division known as HYDRA. In particular, the HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola who turned Barnes into the Winter Soldier earns his enmity.

While brainwashed, HYDRA sends him after anyone who stands in their way of global control, including Captain America and his allies Falcon and Black Widow.

After Cap helps set Barnes’ mind right, Bucky stands by him in his fight against Helmut Zemo, as well as Iron Man and the heroes who side with him in the split over the Sokovia Accords. Barnes is notably targeted by T’Challa, the Black Panther, who mistakenly believes Barnes kills his father. Iron Man also strongly retaliates against Barnes after finding out that the Winter Soldier was responsible for the death of Stark’s parents while under HYDRA control, and that Rogers hid the information from him.

Later, Barnes joins the fight against Thanos’ invasion force.

Bucky’s Buddies

Bucky Barnes’ closest bond is with Steve Rogers, his childhood friend. The two form a friendship that leads to them putting their lives on the line for one another for decades to come.

Bucky Barnes and the Howling Commandos

During World War II, Sergeant Barnes serves in the 107th and fights valiantly with his fellow soldiers. After Captain America rescues him from captivity, he battles alongside Howling Commandos Dum Dum Duggan, Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth, and Jacques Dernier, and Agent Peggy Carter against HYDRA—the same vile organization that later brainwashes Barnes into serving them.

After regaining some of his memories, Barnes joins Captain America, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant-Man against Iron Man and his allies when the two groups divide over whether or not to sign the Sokovia Accords. Falcon and Barnes share a mutual disdain for one another but they fight together regardless since they share a mutual friend in Rogers. In the aftermath of that battle, T’Challa and Shuri agreed to help him remove the Winter Soldier programming and also gave him a new home in Wakanda.

During the battle against Thanos, Winter Soldier fights next to his previous allies, along with the forces of Wakanda and other Super Heroes like War Machine, Thor, Rocket, and Groot.

A Soldier and a Wolf

Found alive, though missing his left arm from the fall from a HYDRA train, Bucky Barnes was placed in the hands of Arnim Zola. Zola put him through the Winter Soldier Program, which used brainwashing techniques, physiological enhancements, and intense training to turn him into one of HYDRA’s greatest weapons. In addition, Barnes was given a cybernetic arm to replace the one he lost. Part of the programming revolved around a series of code words that could be used to make Barnes do whatever the speaker commanded.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) coming out of cryogenic freeze

Barnes’ personality and memories proved difficult to fully suppress, so they put him in cryogenic freeze between missions. Still, he was credited with over two dozen assassinations in the span of 50 years. In 1991, Barnes was thawed out and sent to retrieve Howard Stark’s new attempt at the Super Soldier Serum. The assassin forcibly crashed the car with Howard and Maria inside and stole the samples, killing Tony Stark’s parents in the process. That serum was used to take some of HYDRA’s most dangerous operatives and turn them into other versions of the Winter Soldier. Barnes helped with the training, but the others proved erratic and were also put on ice.

In 2009, Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow was guarding a nuclear scientist who the Winter Soldier was sent to kill. To wipe his target off the board, Barnes killed the scientist by shooting directly through Romanoff. Surviving, Romanoff tried tracking him down after that with no success. The Winter Soldier later reappeared when ordered by HYDRA leader Alexander Pierce—working covertly as a government official—to kill S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury. Barnes first attempted to carry out this job on city streets with a team at his back. For the second effort, he shot Fury in Steve Rogers’ apartment and, though Fury had faked his own death, the Soldier believed he had been successful. Captain America gave chase, but the Winter Soldier managed to escape after catching Cap’s shield and then rocketing it back at the hero.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) first fight with Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Winter Soldier then met with Pierce at his home and was told that he needed to confirm the deaths of Captain America and Black Widow in the next 10 hours. He sprang into action after Captain America, Black Widow, and Sam Wilson AKA Falcon had gotten information out of another secret HYDRA agent inside S.H.I.E.L.D., Jasper Sitwell. As the heroes transported the traitor by car, Winter Soldier snatched him out and threw him into the path of an oncoming truck. During the ensuing fight, Winter Soldier fought all three heroes until the assassin’s mask came off and Rogers recognized him as Bucky—a name Winter Soldier didn’t recognize. He managed to escape, but was now filled with questions.

Back with the HYDRA scientists, Barnes remembered bits and pieces of his past, but also wanted to know who Steve Rogers was. Not liking all these questions, Pierce ordered Barnes’ memory wiped again. Reprogrammed, they sent the Winter Soldier to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, the Triskellion, to help ensure HYDRA’s plan to launch a trio of Project Insight Helicarriers they could use to destroy potential threats. Barnes took out pilots and planes looking to help Captain America and Falcon in their mission to give control of the carriers to Nick Fury. In the process, Winter Soldier tore off one of Falcon’s wings and would have killed him, had Wilson not used a parachute.

Winter Soldier met Captain America once again in the last of the three Helicarriers that Cap needed to take control over. Cap fought his old friend, while also trying to get the new targeting server blade in place, and persevered even as Barnes shot at him several times. Once Fury and Maria Hill gained control of the targeting systems, they aimed the carriers’ weapons to blast away at each other, sending them crashing back to Earth with Cap and Bucky still aboard. The Winter Soldier became trapped under some wreckage and Cap worked to save him, despite his own injuries. Once free, Winter Soldier tried again to fulfill his mission of killing Captain America, but Rogers refused to fight back, until the glass under Cap gave way and he fell into the water below. Barnes impulsively jumped into the water, dragging Rogers to the shore and saving his life, but then immediately fled the scene.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) saving a drowning Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Out in the world without HYDRA programming for the first time since the 1940s, Barnes visited the Captain America display at the Smithsonian and read about himself. Bucky remained alone and on the run for two years even as Captain America and Falcon tried tracking him down. They finally caught up to him in Bucharest, after Barnes had been framed by Helmut Zemo for bombing the United Nations building in Vienna, killing King T’Chaka in the process. Though Barnes still didn’t fully remember his life, he begrudgingly trusted Rogers who offered to get him help. He promised not to kill any of the cops who were after him and lived up to his word. However, neither of them figured on another party entering the fray: T’Chaka’s vengeful son, T’Challa, the Black Panther. After an exhausting chase, James “Rhodes” Rhodes AKA War Machine helped take Barnes into custody, along with Rogers, Wilson, and T’Challa.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) in custody

Barnes was restrained and taken to a holding cell in the Joint Terrorist Centre Building in Berlin until Zemo snuck into the facility posing as a psychiatrist. Using the old HYDRA trigger words, Zemo activated Barnes’ Winter Soldier programming, commanding him to tell him about the Stark mission in 1991 and also cover his own escape. Out of his mind again, Barnes managed to fight off armed guards, Captain America, Falcon, Tony Stark, Sharon Carter, Black Widow, and Black Panther. He almost managed to fly off in a helicopter, but Rogers literally dragged it back down to the launchpad. The two crashed into the water below, but this time it was Rogers who pulled an unconscious Barnes out and to safety.

Fugitives themselves, Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers kept Barnes captive by putting his metal arm in an industrial vice, until he convinced them he was back under his own control. Barnes informed Rogers and Wilson about the other Winter Soldiers and the threat they posed, along with their location in Siberia.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) fighting Black Panther (T'Challa)

At an airport in Berlin, Barnes joined Captain America, Falcon and their newly recruited allies Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and Scarlet Witch in a fight against Iron Man and his allies. During the battle, Barnes and Falcon had a run-in with the young hero Spider-Man, before Barnes was confronted by Black Panther, who didn’t believe Barnes’ proclamation of innocence.

Realizing it was impossible for everyone to make it out, the others created a diversion while Cap and Bucky were able to escape. The heroes arrived at the old HYDRA bunker and were surprised to find Iron Man there. Tony explained that he was on their side, learning that Zemo had framed Barnes.

However, Zemo had killed the other Winter Soldiers while they were dormant—his true goal to destroy the Avengers from within. He left a video for Stark to watch, showing the brainwashed Barnes killing Tony’s parents. Rogers admitted that he had known Barnes was responsible for the Starks’ death, but had hid it from Tony. In a fit of rage, Iron Man attacked them both, while Cap continued to fight for his friend. In the brutal brawl that followed, Iron Man blasted Bucky’s cybernetic arm off, before he in turn was defeated by Captain America, who disabled his armor, before escaping with Bucky.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) fighting Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Knowing he still was a danger due to his programming, Barnes volunteered to go back into cryo freeze in Wakanda, given assistance by T’Challa, who had learned Zemo, not Barnes, was behind his father’s death. Sometime later, with his mind clear, an awakened Bucky adjusted to life in Wakanda with the help of T’Challa’s sister, Shuri. During this period, the children of Wakanda began referring to Barnes as the White Wolf.

When Captain America contacted T’Challa and informed him of Thanos’ quest for the Infinity Stones, and the need to travel to Wakanda for assistance removing the Mind Stone from Vision, T’Challa and Okoye visited the White Wolf and delivered him a new cybernetic arm. Reunited in Wakanda, Barnes and Rogers prepared for war, which came in the form of an invasion led by Thanos’ minions.

Alongside T’Challa and his forces, plus many other allies, Barnes used his incredible combat skills to help hold off the invaders until Thor, accompanied by members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, showed up to even the odds—leading to Barnes’ impromptu use of the gun-toting Rocket as a second instrument of destruction, as he picked up the Guardian and whirled him around while firing his own gun.

Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) fighting with Rocket at the battle of Wakanda

The tide had turned in the heroes’ favor, until Thanos appeared and succeeded in snatching the Stone from Vision’s head. Accomplishing his goal, Thanos, now holding all the Infinity Stones in his gauntlet, snapped his fingers, ending half the life in the universe. On the Wakandan battlefield, Bucky Barnes was the first to fall, calling out for Steve before disintegrating into nothingness. In shock, Rogers walked over and touched the ash that was all that remained of his best friend.

Five years passed since Thanos’ devastating Snap. The Avengers managed to find a way to bring everyone back by going back in time to steal the Stones and create a new gauntlet. After Hulk snapped everyone back, Barnes returned with all the other missing allies and Avengers. They faced another battle with Thanos and his armies of Chitauri and Outriders, who had traveled through time to present day. Using his marksmanship skills, Barnes teamed up with Rocket again, this time to protect Hawkeye while he kept the Stones away from Thanos’ forces. Barnes continued to fight until Stark got ahold of the Stones and implemented a third Snap, which removed Thanos and his armies from existence. Stark sacrificed himself, and Barnes attended his funeral. 

As Cap prepared to embark on his journey back in time to return the stones to their rightful place, Barnes wished his long-time friend well. He seemed sad that Cap was leaving, remarking before he departed that he’d miss him. When Rogers did not return through the Quantum Tunnel at the predetermined time, Barnes noticed a figure in the distance. He walked over with Wilson, though the latter paused, and Barnes encouraged him to go ahead. The figure was an older Rogers who had returned the Stones and stayed longer to live his own life. When Rogers offered Wilson his Captain America shield, Wilson looked to Barnes and he nodded in approval.