(Warning: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and the MCU below.)
Marvel followers know that Chris Evans made noises about retiring as Captain America for years before finally ending his run in Avengers: Endgame. Naturally, this led to rampant speculation about which MCU character would become the next Cap, since the shield got passed around quite a bit in the comics, including to Bucky Barnes. He’s the lifelong friend to Steve Rogers and subject of too many fanfictions to count, and many fans hold an enormous soft spot for Sebastian Stan. When Stan’s Bucky came back from the dead in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and held the shield for a moment that felt like foreshadowing — folks felt duly teased, so when Steve passed the shield to Sam Wilson’s Falcon (and his jetpack), people were surprised, at best.
Falcon was indeed a right-hand man to Cap in the movies, so it makes sense that he’d get the shield, but the handing-off was, well, awkward. Even Sam was surprised, and Bucky nodded in approval, but there’s still a lingering sense of him getting the shaft. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was brainwashed by Hydra, but the Russo Brothers didn’t have time to address all of that (in a movie that was already over three hours long). Sebastian Stan recently stated that it “makes no sense” for Bucky to become Cap since he’s trying to escape his past, and the Russo Brothers have now sat down with Wired (via Comic Book) with Anthony clarifying why Bucky wasn’t suited for the shield:
“The thing we’ve loved exploring about Bucky is [that] he’s got a very complicated history. He has a damaged mind. You don’t want to hand a very powerful weapon to somebody who is vulnerable like that.”
Poor Bucky, right? And poor followers of Bucky who saw Stan tease a different shield on Instagram in 2016. However, Joe Russo stood firm when speaking while telling Wired, “Falcon is an amazing character who is certainly very deserving of the shield.” Well, that’s true, as far as honorability goes. Wilson is a standup guy without a scrambled mind, and Falcon and the Winter Soldier will have their series on Disney+, so we’ll see what happens there. Bucky seemed pretty cool with the Falcon handoff, and maybe he got to take a vacation from heroics after Endgame. If anyone deserves an Aruba vacation, it’s the ex-Winter Soldier.