Any average civilian in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has probably led a more exciting life than someone in the real world, but even by that standard, Bucky Barnes’s MCU life story has been a wild ride. Considering how old Bucky Barnes is, the Winter Soldier’s MCU history covers more action and loss than anyone else in the franchise. In a saga chock-full of unique experiences and perspectives, James Buchanan Barnes’s story is truly one of a kind.
In more than a century of life in the MCU, Bucky has gone from Brooklyn to Russia to Wakanda and back home again. In between, he’s seen the world transform a hundred times over as he battled the Third Reich, super soldiers, and alien hordes. Indeed, Bucky Barnes has already lived far more than most in more ways than one - and he’s far from done.
March 10, 1917: James Buchanan Barnes Is Born In Brooklyn
James Buchanan Barnes was born in Brooklyn, NY, on March 10, 1917, more than a year before Steve Rogers’s own birthday of July 4, 1918. The eldest of four siblings, “Bucky” proved an all-around talent who excelled in both sports and the classroom.
Demonstrating what would become a fully fledged heroic streak, a teenage Barnes noticed the younger Rogers being hassled on the schoolyard and intervened on his behalf. From there, the two made fast friends after Bucky built the foundation of his considerable combat experience defending his diminutive pal from any would-be bullies.
1936: Bucky Invites Steve Rogers To Live With Him After Sarah Rogers Perishes From Tuberculosis
In 1936, Steve Rogers became an orphan when his mother Sarah perished of tuberculosis. When Bucky offered to have Steve move in with him and his family, Steve insisted that he could make it on his own, but Bucky changed his mind by saying, “The thing is, you don't have to. I'm with you to the end of the line, pal.” By this point, the two were more brothers than friends, and they’d spend the next century playing out that “end of the line” metaphor to extremes they could never have possibly imagined.
A year or two later, Barnes read The Hobbit for the first time.
December 1941: Bucky Enlists And Trains At Camp McCoy After The US Joins WWII
On a date that would live in infamy, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the United States formally entered WWII. Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers were in art class when they heard the news. Both attempted to enlist immediately, but Rogers was rejected. Barnes, on the strength of his athletic and academic track record, was a shoo-in.
Bucky spent the winter in Camp McCoy, WI, training with the 107th Infantry Regiment - the very same unit Steve’s father had served in during WWI - as a sniper. Before his deployment, he rose all the way to the rank of sergeant.
Summer 1943: Bucky Attends The Stark Expo And Ships Out To Europe
With his considerable training now complete, Sergeant James Barnes and the 107th received word that they were to be deployed overseas, first to England and then on to the Western Front. Before he set sail, Barnes returned to New York to say his farewells to Steve Rogers and others - and to attend the 1943 Stark Expo.
Barnes defeated one last bully on behalf of Rogers and then made one last attempt to get his friend a date. The next day, he shipped off to London. The next time those two met, the dynamic between them shifted considerably.