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Is Captain America: Civil War a Love Story?

Captain America and Bucky
Image: Vanityfair

No matter what else Captain America: Civil War may be, the core of the upcoming film – May 6 and it can’t get here soon enough – is a love story. Between Steve Rogers aka Captain America and Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. A love story that is nearly a hundred years old. It is the love of brothers, of soldiers, and it is this grand climax of their love that is the beating heart of the film.
Even Joe Russo, one of the directors, described it as such,
“What’s fascinating about the Cap-Bucky story as well is it’s a love story . . . These are two guys who grew up together, and so they have that same emotional connection to each other as brothers would, and even more so because Bucky was all Steve had growing up.”
Let’s look at how it all started. Steve and Bucky met in elementary school and have been best friends ever since. Steve was always weaker and smaller than the other boys, so Bucky became both a protector and older brother to him. By the time the two boys were grown, they were inseparable. Until Bucky decided to enlist and fight in World War II.
Steve then does everything he can to join the war, not only because he feels it is his duty, but because his brother is for the first time facing danger without him. Steve is finally given the chance to follow Bucky into service, but only if he will be a guinea pig for dangerous experiments. He agrees without hesitation. Ultimately Steve, now Captain America makes it to the front lines, only to find that Bucky is a POW and likely to be killed. Again Captain America doesn’t stop for a moment to consider before single handling assaulting the Hydra prison/facility to rescue Bucky and his fellow prisoners.
The two fight alongside each other throughout the war, with Bucky coming to realize that his younger brother not only no longer needs his protection, but that he in fact needs Steve’s. Still, even if Steve is now the super soldier Captain America, Bucky determines to do his best to stay by Steve’s side. It is this resolve that ultimately leads to his (presumed) death where Steve is unable to save him.
Captain America’s role in the war ends not long afterward when, driven by his guilt over Bucky’s death into ever more reckless and life-threatening actions, he apparently commits suicide in order to stop a Hydra plot.
However, unbeknownst to one another, both Steve and Bucky survived their seeming deaths, but from there went on diverging paths. Captain America has become a superhero and a member of the Avengers, while Bucky has had his memories tampered with and is being used as the world’s greatest assassin, The Winter Soldier. Eventually the two meet again when Hydra attempts to perform a coup within S.H.E.I.L.D., and Captain America finds himself hunted down by the Winter Soldier.
After the two battle, Cap finds to his shock and joy, that Bucky is the Winter Soldier. Bucky, despite his tampered memories, feels that he has some connection to Steve. Later, while preparing for the assault on S.H.E.I.L.D. and the inevitable battle with Bucky, Steve admits he has no intention or the ability to harm Bucky. Instead he is determined to save him. And when it comes time for the two to fight, Captain America appeals to his friend beneath all of the mind control while taking a brutal beating.
In the end, Bucky remembers enough of Steve to save him from drowning in the Potomac before disappearing again.
And so we come to Civil War, the conclusion of Steve and Bucky’s story. Steve at last finds Bucky, and what’s more, Bucky actually seems to remember Steve. But Bucky is a wanted criminal, and other heroes are looking to bring him in. Now it is Steve’s turn to protect Bucky when he needs it most.
Captain America: Civil War is a superhero action film, but it is so much more than that. It is a love story. While in the comics, the Civil War plotline was about registering superheroes (and that element will still be present in the movie), the true reason Captain America is battling Ironman is because of Bucky. Bucky is lost and alone, and Steve is willing to do anything to save his brother and oldest friend. Even if that means fighting his new ones.

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