One of the biggest flaws in Avengers: Endgame is its lack of closure for Steve and Bucky, and we really need the guys that made the movie to stop explaining how everything happened offscreen.
As most everyone knows, Avengers: Endgame is pretty much the biggest movie in history. It’s broken all kinds of records, and recently passed Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time. This movie is a pretty big deal, and not just because it capped ten years’ worth of filmmaking in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It makes sense that everyone is still talking about it, including the guys that made the movie.
But…could they maybe stop? Seriously, y’all. You aren’t helping.
The Russo Brothers, along with scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have been busy muddying the waters on all sorts of Endgame-related topics in the weeks since the film’s release, including Black Widow’s (deeply unnecessary) ending, Gamora’s fate, Thor’s weight gain, and how time travel works.
They’ve also been trying to mitigate the fact that the two halves of Infinity War and Endgame effectively ignored one of the driving forces behind Steve Rogers’ arc in the MCU: His friendship with Bucky Barnes.
Steve and Bucky’s relationship formed the foundation of the entire Captain America trilogy. However you may feel about the status of that relationship – and if you ask me, it doesn’t matter whether you read them as platonic friends or something more, this all still applies – there’s no denying that Bucky is the most important person in Steve’s life. He disobeys orders to rescue him on what might be called his first superhero mission in The First Avenger, risks death rather than fight him at the end of The Winter Soldier, and basically gives up everything in his life – from his friendship with Tony Stark to the shield that gives him his identity – to protect him in Civil War.
Which is why it’s so strange that after Steve leaves Bucky back in cryosleep, we really never see the two have a meaningful conversation again. Literally everything happens offscreen.
Bucky and Steve’s surely emotional reunion after he awakes in Wakanda? Took place offscreen. The subsequent visits over the next two years that supposedly took place? Apparently happened via Skype. And now we don’t even get to see the two of them say goodbye before this chapter in their lives officially closes. Probably forever, as it’s likely that Inifinity War marks the last time Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan will star opposite each other in a Marvel film.
Sure, we all pretty much assumed that Bucky had to have some foreknowledge about what was about to happen when Steve went back in time again to “return” the Infinity Stones the team took. But it’s nice to hear the writers confirm it anyway.
“I think it’s clear from Sebastian’s performance here that he’s been clued into Steve’s decision.” McFeely says during the film’s commentary track. “Why would he say ‘I’m gonna miss you’ if it’s gonna be five seconds?”
This is great and all – and part of me is grateful that Russo and McFeely feel compelled to tell us that Bucky and Steve’s friendship was apparently still epic and rock solid, even after everything.
But why this isn’t something fans have earned the right to see? At least in some capacity?
As noted above, this is hardly the first time that the “Stucky” relationship has been shoved to the background of the larger Avengers story, or that the powers that be have relied on post-release interviews to talk about whatever’s going on with their characters rather than actually showing us onscreen.
Over the course of the MCU, Steve Rogers loses his best friend, rescues him, loses him again for multiple decades, thinks he’s dead, realizes he is not, is forced to fight him multiple times, learns he’s been turned into a Soviet killing machine, tracks him down over both years and multiple countries and blows up his entire life to protect him. All before he watches him turn to dust during Thanos’ snap in front of him.
Yet, somehow, Thor and his mom get more closure in Endgame than Steve and Bucky do.
That’s fine. Sure. Totally normal storytelling.
Oh, wait, no it’s not. Steve and Bucky’s story was important enough that fans should have gotten the chance to see the end of it – particularly as Marvel asks us to tune in to an upcoming series about Bucky’s adventures alongside Sam Wilson as the new Captain America.
How are we meant to feel about the continuation of Bucky’s story when we never saw such an important piece of how he got to his current place as a character for ourselves?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to know that he and Steve remained close enough for Skype chats, text chains and the occasional heart-to-heart. But the fact that all of those things were only ever described to me third-hand is never going to not sting a bit. Particularly when the folks behind the scenes seem to think telling me about something is the same thing as showing it to me.
(Spoiler alert: It’s not.)
Steve and Bucky deserved better. And honestly, so did we.