Bucky was shocked when Ayo disconnected his metal arm when they fought, but beyond his surprise, there are deeper reasons why Bucky stopped fighting.
Warning: SPOILERS for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4, “Everybody’s Watching”.
On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4, Ayo (Florence Kasumba) of the Wakandan Dora Milaje used a safety to disconnect Bucky Barnes’s (Sebastian Stan) cybernetic left arm, instantly stopping him from fighting. The Vibranium arm was a gift to Barnes from King T’Challa (Sebastian Stan) after Shuri (Letitia Wright) removed the Hydra programming from Bucky’s mind. But there are more reasons why taking Bucky’s arm instantly killed his will to fight beyond sheer surprise.
For decades, Sgt. James Buchanan Barnes was the Winter Soldier, Hydra’s main assassin. Bucky was captured by Hydra in 1945, experimented with a variant of the Super-Soldier Serum, brainwashed and had a metal arm made of titanium implanted to replace the left arm that was amputated when he fell off a train and nearly collapsed. . upon his death. The Winter Soldier’s mind was erased after each mission to keep him obedient and he was put into cryostatis, which helped keep him young. For all those horrible years, the man that was Bucky Barnes was gone, replaced by a programmed killing machine. After his best friend Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) fought for Bucky to realize who he really is Captain America: The Winter SoldierBucky spent the next several years trying to regain his memories and his lost humanity.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Episode 4, “The Whole World Is Watching,” revealed how Ayo was the person who tested whether Shuri’s correction of Bucky’s Hydra programming was successful. After Bucky was cured in Wakanda, he lived peacefully in the countryside as a farmer, where the locals knew Bucky as “The White Wolf”. Barnes enjoyed the calm of the African kingdom as he began the process of rebuilding himself and freeing himself from the Winter Soldier, though the memories of every murder he committed remained a part of him. Fundamentally, Bucky lived as the one-armed White Wolf. He did not receive his Vibranium arm for many months, and only because King T’Challa knew that the Avengers were on their way and Wakanda would be the battleground against the Sons of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War.
Bucky’s Vibranium arm is just one of his superpowers, but it’s also essentially what defines the Winter Soldier. He has been shown to be more peaceful without it, but since Barnes did not know that Shuri had built a lock that removed his arm, he did not know that he could remove it himself. Without his left arm, Bucky isn’t the killer he used to be. It’s fascinating that when Ayo kicked out Bucky’s arm, it not only shocked Barnes, it exhausted his will to fight completely. For Bucky, his cyborg prosthetic is both a curse and a crutch.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier It started when Bucky returned to a relatively normal life in the 21st century. He was forgiven for his crimes and was a free man, but he was still mandated to attend therapy to face the sins of his past. Bucky’s regret for all the murders he committed as a Winter Soldier is the key to who he is today, and his cybernetic left arm is the literal symbol of the robotic killer he once was from which he cannot fully escape. It’s ironic that, as a Winter Soldier, Bucky’s identity and purpose were clear. But just being Bucky Barnes trying to function in modern society finds him lost and unsure of himself. Earlier in the series, Barnes told a former Hydra agent now a senator whom he turned over to authorities that “I am no longer the Winter Soldier”, but the real question you have to answer in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is, “Who is Bucky Barnes?”
Next: Why It Taken 10 Years For Marvel To Turn Bucky Into An Avenger In The MCU
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