Captain America: The Winter Soldier remains to this day one of the most critically-acclaimed and beloved comic book films ever made. Part of that is due to the subversive, spy thriller tone that the Russo Brothers implemented into the franchise, and part of that is thanks to the strong emotional relationship created between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) in it. The relationship was only further strengthened too in this year’s Captain America: Civil War, which literally saw Captain America fighting some of the other Avengers in order to protect Bucky.
One of the most popular fan theories that’s been running around though, ever since it was really announced that the movies would be tackling the Winter Soldier storyline, has always been that Stan’s Bucky would eventually take over the mantle of Captain America whenever Chris Evans decided to stop doing the films. This would, of course, keep in line with how things went down in the comics, and would allow the Captain America character to stay in the MCU, even after Evans’ run ended.
Now, Stan himself may have teased the possibility in his latest Instagram post, which features the actor walking down a hallway carrying his own Captain America shield, which he winkingly teases, “will come in handy…” Take a look for yourself below:
«Excuse me…where’s the restroom?» A big thank you and shout out to Casey McBroom @shield_labs for making this for me. Will come in handy… #wintersoldier #marvel
Created by Shield Labs, it’s not even the shield itself that’s necessarily sparking the speculation surrounding the photo, but rather if Stan’s caption is in fact hinting at Bucky’s possible future in the MCU or not. With Avengers: Infinity War set to be the culmination of basically every film in the MCU up to this point, many have speculated that some of the most prominent members of the Avengers could either be dead or retired by the time the conflict with Thanos (Josh Brolin) comes to an end; with new characters either taking over their roles, or other sidekicks and supporting players stepping in to be the new leads.
No other character has been on the receiving end of that kind of speculation like Bucky has either, as his arc in the comics is one of the most drastic and notable of any of the current MCU characters. Right now, his fate in the MCU is still a mystery, with many speculating that he could show up at some point in the Black Panther film, and others believing he really won’t return until Infinity War. No matter which one it ends up being, Bucky’s presence in the MCU has become more integral and influential than a majority of the other non-Avengers characters, and it doesn’t seem out of question to think he’s being groomed to take on a much larger role sometime down the line, especially since Stan himself signed on for a whopping nine films initially. If so, he’ll be needing a shield of his own, that’s for sure.