Do you remember elementary school, when the most important thing seemed to be who your friends were? And barring the existence of multiple friends, you at least had a best friend right? Well, if I was to ask you right now who your best friend is would you have a response? The truth is that some of you might feel the term ‘best friend’ is outdated or childish, others may feel inclined to reject putting one friend in a symbolic position of heightened importance, and finally, some of you might actually have a name or two on the tip of your tongues. Well, for those of you that fall into the last category, you and Steve Rogers have something in common. If you follow media and movie news in any way shape or form you likely know that the third Captain America film, Civil War, centres around Cap’s quest to regain his BFFL (Best Friend For Life), James Buchanan Barnes, otherwise known as Bucky. While there are lots of factors at play in Cap 3, some of which I discussed in my initial review of the film, I was truly captivated by the emotional interplay between the characters. I really admired the character development of the film’s major players and that inspired me to write about their interactions as both a collective and individuals.
However, upon seeing the movie again last week I realized how the relationships are too numerous and complex to fully discuss in one piece. As I toyed with ideas for this post I finally noticed how, despite my desire to explore Natasha’s resounding need for the team to stick together no matter what or the comedy brought on by Stark’s paternal instincts, which appeared when Tony spoke with Peter, I could not stop thinking about the two sets of best friends.
Steve and Bucky
Tony and Rhodey
There’s something eternally fascinating about best friends like these characters. They’ve been through hell and back, yet somehow they still retain an air of purity/security/solidity about themselves and their relationship. The trope of the childhood best friend – the one person who knows the protagonist better than herself, the one person who will always stand by him, the eternal friend – is a common trope in films, television, and novels. Here, I want to focus on Steve and Bucky. Tony and Rhodey are a whole other case on their own. *Also, I have not actually seen the other two Iron Man films and that would place me at a disadvantage to discuss Tones and Rhodes.
So, Steve and Bucky. Let’s do a quick round up of facts okay? They’ve been separated by distance (physical and mental), time (we’re talking decades here), and life in general, but no matter what they’ve stuck together. If they were cliché enough to get matching tattoos they would probably get, “Till the end of the line,” in each other’s handwriting over their hearts (or something to that effect). I’m being completely serious too. While the tattoo example sounds a bit sappy and slightly out of character for the them I like it because it demonstrates how deep their attachment runs. They are a cohesive unit – and it shows, in their fighting styles (and fight scenes) and their almost telepathic connection, which results in comfortable silences. One of the things I love about their relationship is how they don’t really question it, at least not in the MCU. Things are natural between them. Yes, that is the result of the years they spent growing up together but it’s more than that, they see each other as part of themselves. They are two sides of the same coin. Their friendship is true in a way that nothing else in their lives has ever been.
The protective nature of both men is a large factor in their friendship as well. Steve started a gosh darn war to keep Bucky safe, which while excessive in the minds of some people, makes perfect sense from where he was standing. To Steve, Bucky was being threatened, and for someone who doesn’t like bullies the choice to stand against whomever was doing the threatening was not really a choice at all. While Bucky may have picked Steve up off the ground (after he started a fight he couldn’t win no less) more than once pre-serum, it’s certainly implied that Steve is just as protective of Bucky. Their friendship goes both ways. It’s an exchange – a relationship of give and take. That’s how I measure my friendships. If I’m always the one giving (time, energy, affection etc.) what does that friendship really add to my life? Alternatively, if I only stay friends with someone because of something I need from him (*insert ridiculous materialistic desire i.e. friend with a pool, car etc.*) what kind of person would that make me? I’d be a poor friend indeed. Bucky and Steve do not have that problem. Sure, especially after Hydra’s brainwashing Bucky might need to rely upon Steve a little bit more while he adjusts but, they are still always equals.
~”Best friends since childhood, Bucky Barnes and Steven Rogers were inseparable on both school yard and battlefield.”~ From Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Their love (in this context I’m referring to it platonically although I know some members of the fandom see it differently) for each other is deep and founded upon mutual trust, shared experience, and that certain je ne sais quoi that allows you to instantly ‘click’ or connect with someone. Their relationship is one to admire (and maybe to envy). So I turn to you dear reader, and I ask you this:
Who is your Bucky or Steve?
If you’re lucky enough to have one make sure you thank them. After all they’re with you till the end of the line.