In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was born on March 17, 1917. Today, in celebration of Bucky’s 100th birthday I reached out to people who have cosplayed as the beloved fictional character and asked them to share their stories. It’s not uncommon for cosplayers to get into character when dressing up as a comic book character. Maybe you started cosplaying a character because you look like them, or you relate to what they have been through. But often times it becomes more than that. You become that character, and that character becomes you. Often times there is an emotional attachment, a bond between cosplayer and character.
One of the intriguing things about the Winter Soldier is that he is a character that is cosplayed a lot by both male and female cosplayers. Often times women make even better Winter Soldiers than men. So when I put the word out that I was writing this article, it was no surprise that I received just as many submissions from women as I did from men.
Here are their stories, from the cosplayers themselves. I simply asked them “What does it mean to cosplay Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier? What does the character mean to you?” Happy birthday, Bucky.
To me Bucky represents the idea that no matter what you have done there is always hope for redemption. Also the bond and friendship that he and Captain America have truly sets the bar of what friendship really means. I have cosplayed as both Bucky Barnes and the Winter Soldier. Which I have made entirely from scratch, metal work on the arm, sewing leather for the jacket, making the belts and holsters. For me it’s more than dressing up. It’s bringing something out of the big screen to real life. To all the Bucky and Cap cosplayers….I’m with you to the end of the line.
Justine G / JusZ Cosplay:
I really like Bucky’s journey from best friend to soldier to unwilling villain, back to hero. Bucky’s friendship and bond with Steve really resonated with me and the idea that at heart Bucky is such a good person that even Hydra can’t scrub it out of him is something I love. Also, lots of weapons – I love a character that comes fully armed. The bonus is that my best friend cosplays Cap with me, so I get to have her along for the ride, too.
Bucky Barnes, to me, is a symbol of freedom, and a symbol of hope for the youth of our nation. I’ve always loved this character because to me, he was always just as important as Captain America was. Bucky was created as the antithesis to the Hitler Youth, and to me that’s pretty powerful. Not only that, but Bucky always did the things Cap couldn’t do, like stealth missions and recon. As someone who’s always loved Cap and Bucky, and as someone who has always aspired to be a hero, building my identity to resemble Steve Rogers, and considered myself a great sidekick, Bucky shows us that sidekicks are just as important as the heroes that they work with. Happy Birthday, Bucky! Thank’s for helping me to become the man that I want to be!
There is more to Bucky Barnes than just being the best friend of Steve Rogers and a killer assassin for Hydra. He is a war hero. I have had the honor of cosplaying the Winter Soldier for close to a year now. It is a shocker to know that a lot of the younger kids know who he is. To me Bucky is a symbol of honor and courage. He has done so much in the Marvel Universe and he deserves to become the next Captain America. So what does Bucky mean to me? One simple answer. Protector of America.
While I’ve only ever cosplayed once, it was an amazing feeling to step into the world of such a bad ass, heroic character. Winter Soldier to me symbolizes that there is always a connection…no matter what has happened, you’re lucky that there’s always someone that is with you and will always stick up for you.
Deel S / Dee Elle Cosplay:
Cosplaying as the Winter Soldier meant so much to me. I wanted to craft and portray a character outside of what I have created in the past. It was challenge but I relished every moment as Bucky Barnes – worth cutting my hair, hiding myself and delving into the role with restrained glee. He’s a fascinating character to me and I look forward to cosplaying him again sometime.
Bucky has always been a big part of my life. I can connect to him in more than one way and they aren’t always the best. But as a character he represents the dark things people deal with in life. He went from being a go to sidekick of cap to being forced against the only people he ever loved. In the end he always blamed himself even though it was never really his fault. Even if he believes the actions he was forced to perform against his own will were his fault, he still redeemed himself.
Stoic, determined, and strong. The 3 words that come to mind when I cosplay as Bucky Barnes. He’s an incredibly skilled assassin and precise as a scalpel. But just as an tool he was only as useful as the hands controlling him. Through the movies was where I became familiar with the Winter Soldier and slightly obsessed over his back story. Throughout his story he slowly became less of a tool to be used and more of his own person and make his own decisions, and that was something I identified with because now I refuse to let others control my actions and decisions.
Bucky Barnes is the epitome of having demons in your closet. Anyone who has tried to better themselves and been drug down by their past can relate. His self loathing would crush most people but he keeps moving forward. We all can learn from that.
In life sometimes we are forced to do things that we are not proud of, but in the end we all have the opportunity to make a “CHOICE” . Run from our demons or embrace who we are and face them.
Stark made weapons for profit, but only tried to make up once he saw up close the consequences. Banner feels responsible as he volunteered for the experiment that created the Hulk. Romanov was forced to become an assassin, but was also willing to carry out the orders. Having been brainwashed and abused by the very enemies he dedicated his life to fight, Bucky deserves redemption more than any other character. My wife and I both cosplay as Bucky.
As a kid growing up in Canada and liking comics, it was a lot easier to relate to Bucky than it was to the very patriotic looking Captain America. He was large part of my early love of comics and Marvel. When they brought him back, bigger and better than ever, it was all the more to love and he has one of the most in depth stories, I feel, of any marvel character. My gender swapped original Bucky uniform is still one of my fave costumes.
I connect with Bucky because like him, my overall motivation is to do good, but brooding beneath is a rather dark past that doesn’t necessarily embody who he truly is. After I saw The First Avenger, my first thought was, oh man, PLEASE bring us Winter Soldier! I was so pleased they did.
Bucky was actually my first cosplay. He will always hold a special place in my heart. He reminds me that sometimes it’s okay to not be yourself, you’re allowed to be sad, or angry or not in control, but even so, you have the capability to come out triumphant in the end.
Bucky is misunderstood. He is a character who is broken, but not beyond repair. Once you get past the damaged parts of Bucky you will find fierce loyalty. Wearing this costume is super fun. Many people yell Bucky and I reply “Who the hell is Bucky”? He was super fun to wear as a costume and I look forward to wearing it again in the future.
Bucky R / FreightcarBarnes Cosplay:
I never thought I’d relate to a brainwashed super assassin, but here we are! I saw part of my traumatic ‘mind control’ experience reflected in Bucky Barnes, all be it a slightly different one. His constant journey of redemption, and his unending tackling of guilt, sorrow, and overcoming his trauma are all intriguing, captivating puzzle pieces that make up Bucky Barnes, and help to make him so unbelievably relatable to those who may have, in their own ways, suffered similar fates. Also, by pure magical coincidence, we share the same birthday. What a wonderful twist of fate, eh?
I’ve done just about every version of Buck, from dapper Bucky, emo/highschool Bucky, and BuckyCap, to pyjamas Bucky, Christmas Bucky and Post Apocalyptic Bucky is incoming, with plenty more in the pipeline! I’m also a woman, so this is a crossplay technically!
I love him so much that I’m even referred to as “Bucky” by my friends
I will close up this article with my own feelings on Bucky. Captain America is by far my favorite super hero, and the character that I cosplay as most often. But the story of Bucky Barnes and the relationship between Bucky and Steve for me has brought Bucky right up there with him as a very close second. Their friendship, the bond between the two of them, is something that we all want. To have just one friend that you know will be by your side no matter what.
I cosplay with my son often, and life without him is simply unimaginable. So the “I’m with you until the end of the line” quote really resonates with me when it comes to my relationship with my son. Cosplaying together as Captain America and Winter Soldier is really something special. Happy birthday Bucky.