Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes

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Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes is a popular non-canon slash ship from the Marvel fandom. Also known as Stucky, Barnes and Noble, Wintershield, or Buck Rogers, the pairing is the most popular Marvel ship on the fanfiction archive An Archive of Our Own after passing fellow non-canon slash ship Steve Rogers/Tony Stark for the position in June 2015. As of January 2017, the archive hosted over 25,000 works tagged with the pairing.

While Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier) are canonically platonic best friends in both comics and films, many fans cite significant homoerotic subtext, as well as the chemistry between actors Chris Evans (Rogers) and Sebastian Stan (Barnes) in the films, as reasons for shipping the pair romantically and/or sexually.


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Steve dreaming about Bucky after Bucky's death

In the early comics, Bucky was portrayed as Steve's teenage sidekick and was eventually killed, an incident which had a profound effect on Steve.

Both critics and fans have often remarked on the significant (most likely accidental) homoerotic subtext between Steve and Bucky in early Captain America comics. For example, this passage from "Captain America and the Soldier's Soup":

Private Rogers stirred uneasily in his cot. His hand mechanically slid over the bed next to him - he was reassured - his young admirer, Bucky, lay there, sound asleep. The soldier turned noiselessly in his cot, smilingly remembering that Bucky was there because a kind-hearted Colonel of an indulgent government just could not let such devotion as Bucky's go unrewarded.

Because of the significant age difference between the two men in the comics, the ship did not gain much popularity with fans until the 2005 release of the Captain America: Winter Soldier arc, written by Ed Brubaker, which brought Bucky back to life as a brainwashed Soviet assassin. And an adult.

Brubaker has expressed support for Steve/Bucky slash fanfiction multiple times via Twitter. For example, on April 4, 2014 (3 days after the US release of the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier) he said that he was "super glad the slash fiction for Cap: Winter Soldier appears to have begun"[1] and on April 13, 2016, he stated "I'm on record multiple times with loving that Bucky/Steve slashfiction has become a thing."[2]

Planet Hulk Controversy

This Planet Hulk panel was changed between the promotional release of the inked panel and the published version, leading some fans to accuse Marvel of queerbaiting.
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In 2015, the release of the Steve and Bucky-centric Secret Wars Planet Hulk crossover arc by Sam Humphries and Marc Laming prompted controversy and accusations of queerbaiting from fans when it seemed to play up a Steve/Bucky relationship before ultimately killing Bucky, especially after fans noticed that some of the art for the arc was changed between promotional release and final version. In particular, an inked version of one panel showed Steve and Bucky holding hands, while the final version showed them raising their fists next to each other. When asked on Twitter about the change, Marc Laming replied that he "wasn't happy with my drawing so I changed it."

All New, All Different Avengers Annual #1

Artist Faith Erin Hicks, a Steve/Bucky shipper, included Steve and Bucky smiling at each other in the background of a scene between Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) and Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl) in All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual (2016) #1:



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The film Captain America: The First Avenger, starring Chris Evans as Cap and Sebastian Stan as Bucky, was released in 2011. Unlike the comics, which portrayed Bucky as Cap's teenage sidekick, the film's Bucky was slightly older than Steve and acted as his protector before Steve received the serum. Some fans have remarked on the similarities between the film's Bucky and the character of Arnie Roth, who is described as Steve's childhood best friend and protector in the comics and who is eventually revealed to be gay.[3]

The popularity of the Steve/Bucky ship really exploded after the 2014 release of the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which described Steve and Bucky as "inseparable on both schoolyard and battlefield", played a World War 2 era love song about reuniting with a long lost lover ("It's Been a Long, Long Time") moments before Steve and Bucky meet for the first time in the 21st century, and featured Bucky breaking through the 70 years of torture and brainwashing inflicted on him as the Winter Soldier to save Steve's life after Steve repeats their catchphrase: "I'm with you to the end of the line."

Filmmakers Reaction to the Steve/Bucky Ship

The reaction of the filmmakers to the popularity of the Steve/Bucky ship has varied from encouragement to tolerance to dismissal.

Anthony and Joe Russo

Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War co-director (with his brother Anthony) Joe Russo has described Captain America: Civil War as a "love story" between Steve and Bucky[4], and in an interview in China also stated:

People can interpret the relationship however they want to interpret it . . . People have interpreted that relationship all kinds of ways, and it's great to see people argue about it what that relationship means to them. We will never define it as filmmakers, explicitly, but however people want to interpret it they can interpret it.[5][6]

However, Anthony Russo went on to clarify:

For us, we've always interpreted the relationship as two brothers. They're very close characters, they have a relationship with each other that is very deep. The bonds between the characters are very strong. That's what motivates the storytelling. These are both characters that came from nothing. Captain America was basically an orphan, and Bucky's family took him in… When he was sleep for several years, he lost everything that was dear to him. And when he took the serum and became Captain America, he gave away a large part of himself for a patriotic cause. So, you have a character who is searching for the only thing that he has left from his past… and that's Bucky.[7]

At the Wizard World New Orleans convention in January 2016, a fan reported that she and her wife had discussed Stucky with the Russos and had the following exchange:

It started when [fan's wife]​ brought up how perfect their response in China was about the relationship between Bucky and Steve[...]. Not only did they look pleased we were familiar with that interview, Joe [...] emphasized that they are completely supportive/comfortable with any interpretation of their characters and their relationships. That's why they make movies after all - like all art how the fans interpret the art is why they do it. That's what makes great storytelling. It's not really their job to tell us, as fans, how to interpret the stuff you can read between the lines. We were overjoyed with that, of course, and I joked, "We're slight Stucky fans, if you couldn't tell," as we were obviously a couple and cosplaying Cap and Bucky. Joe smiled and looked directly at me and said, "If you love Stucky, you're going to love Civil War."[8]

At the same convention, The Screen Junkies and the Russos had the following exchange:

Screen Junkies: You already have a romantic B story with Cap and Bucky, right?

Anthony Russo: We sure do.

Joe Russo: We still, we still do.

Screen Junkies: Did you ever have to dial down the sexual tension on set?

Joe Russo: Why would we?[9]

At another convention, they signed a fan's shield: "Cap, we ship Stucky"[10]

Chris Evans

Chris Evans addressed the question of Cap's possible homosexual relationship with Buck in an interview published in May 2016:

“That wouldn’t be so bad,” mused Evans, “it’s just never been part of my approach to the character. My subtext didn’t involve that dynamic. I think even with the first Captain America film you see how drawn he is to Peggy Carter. I think in that final scene when I’m putting that plane in the water, he’s far more concerned with not getting to see her again than he is to give his own life.

“Maybe I just didn’t do my damn job very well. But that’s what I was going for. I think it was very clear that Peggy Carter was the first woman not just to give him the time of day, but to believe in him and to give him support and trust and honesty, and all these things I think he was hungry for. And I thought I put all that in the final scene, but maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was just gazing at Sebastian [Stan] too much.”[11]

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian Stan interview (date and show?):

Interviewer: You're very gay together.
Sebastian Stan: Maybe it was a little Brokeback Mountain at times... Maybe it was a little "I won't quit you."

In a 2016 interview with Empire Magazine, however, Stan said:

I think it's easy and generalizing it to say that they're lovers, when you're forgetting that one has a lot of guilt because he swore to be the protector of the other, the father figure or older brother so to speak, and then left him behind.
I have no qualms with it but I think people like to see it much more as a love story than it actually is. It's brotherhood to me.[12]

In a May 2016 interview with The Daily Beast, Stan offered some thoughts on Steve/Bucky fanart and fan culture:

The actor, 33, cracks a sly smile at the thought of the myriad ways in which Captain America fans have imagined the torrid friendship between Chris Evans' Cap and his Bucky Barnes, whose decades-long bromance, one could argue, blossoms into full-fledged love in Marvel's Captain America: Civil War.

I offer Stan a glimpse of one gorgeously rendered piece of fan art in which Bucky curls up in bed, spooning a Captain America teddy bear. “I mean, that’s me with a teddy bear,” he says. "That's nice."

Another depicts an extracanonical scene of Steve and Bucky in a clinch, kissing passionately on a bed. "That's—wow. Strong."

And finally, before we move on to other Bucky-Steve topics, a sweet sketch of the two sleeping peacefully, his bionic arm wrapped possessively around Steve's torso.

"That's really nice," he smiles. "Hey, man," he shrugs, a playful glint in his eyes. "People come to the movies with all kinds of things."

"My favorite was that Daft Punk song," he adds. "'Up All Night to Get Bucky!' That's great! That really is great." [13]

In a June 2016 interview with GQ, Stan was asked:

Interviewer: There's this obsession with your character, Bucky, and Captain America being in love and kissing. Have you seen this? Do you have any thoughts about it?

Stan: Look, man, I think it's great. Movies are for people to relate to in whatever way they want. No one here is ever going to point a finger and say what's right and wrong. For me, it's like, Awww. It's cute, it's great. If someone takes the time to think about that, that's great. I don’t think of the character that way, though. But there's no right or wrong answer.[14]

Samuel Jackson

In a red carpet interview with Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson at Comic Con 2013, Samuel Jackson interrupted with his opinion:

Interviewer: Chris, why do you think that Captain America is the perfect hero for our times?

Chris: I think because he puts himself last. I think that there’s a certain type of a...

Samuel L. Jackson [interrupts]: Cause he's the first LGBT Captain America.

(The incident begins at 2:22)

David Hayter

Voice actor David Hayter, who voiced the character of Captain America in several animated television shows, has stated on Twitter that "I definitely played him bi-curious"[15] and that "As someone who's played both #CaptainAmerica and Bucky... I can say that a romantic relationship between them would not be entirely new"[16].


@BBCThree and @skymovies get into a Twitter war over Steve/Bucky vs Steve/Tony.

Steve/Bucky is a popular subject for fanworks, including fanfiction, fanart, fanvids, and more. As of August 2016, Steve/Bucky was the 5th most popular pairing on fanfiction archive An Archive of Our Own[17] and it was 9th on Tumblr's list of the top 20 "Most Reblogged Ships" in 2015[18].

The majority of Steve/Bucky fanfiction is based on film canon, not comics canon, and depicts Steve and Bucky as being close in age. Steve is most commonly depicted as bisexual (probably due to the popularity of his canon heterosexual relationship with Peggy Carter with fans), while characterizations of Bucky are more evenly mixed between bisexual and gay. LGBT issues and themes are common in Steve/Bucky fic set in all eras, including both fics where one or both characters is comfortable with their sexuality and fics where one or both struggles with internalized homophobia. After fans noticed that Steve lived in Brooklyn neighborhoods that were historically queer in the 1930s and 40s in both films and comics[19], a growing number of pre-war era Steve/Bucky fanfics have included depictions of queer life in New York City of that era. It is also common for World War 2-era Steve/Bucky fics to deal with issues and attitudes towards LGBT individuals in the US military at that time.

AU fics for the pairing are also extremely popular, with a few favorite genres being "Shrinkyclinks" (combining a Bucky who is or is similar to the Winter Soldier in characterization and/or appearance with pre-serum/no serum Steve), "Shrunky Clunks" (Steve is still Captain America but Bucky was born in modern times and may or may not still have his arm), AUs where one or both survived World War 2, and a bunch of other AU types that are popular in many fandoms, such as coffeeshop AUs, high school/college AUs, Omegaverse, and more.

Due to the popularity of other slash and het ships for both men, it is not unusual for Steve/Bucky fanworks to involve open or polyamorous relationships with other characters, with some of the most popular being Steve/Bucky/Tony, Steve/Bucky/Peggy, Steve/Bucky/Natasha, Steve/Bucky/Sam, and Steve/Bucky/Natasha/Sam (commonly known as "Barbershop Quartet").

#GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend Campaign

On May 24, 2016, fans got the hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend trending on Twitter. Bucky Barnes was the most commonly proposed boyfriend option, with Tony Stark and Sam Wilson also receiving a significant amount of support. @BBCThree and @SkyMovies even got into a Twitter war over Stucky vs Stony after @BBCThree posted a video about Steve and Bucky's relationship with the caption "We saw that #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend was trending on Twitter and thought... doesn't he already have one?"[20]

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