Joss Whedon Thought Bucky Barnes Should Have Died in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier became a fan-favorite character after Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014. However, The Avengers director Joss Whedon thought the Marvel character should have died in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.

Despite Whedon’s thinking, Sebastian Stan has appeared as Bucky Barnes in multiple movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor will also appear as Bucky in the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Joss Whedon at the 'Avengers: Infinity War' premiere in 2018 and actor Sebastian Stan at the 'Avengers: Endgame' premiere in 2019
Joss Whedon and Sebastian Stan | Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Joss Whedon directed ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

When the MCU was first taking off, Whedon directed the first two Avengers films. The Avengers was released in 2012 and was the first major blockbuster in the franchise.

The film brought together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). It earned critical acclaim and commercial success.

After the positivity surrounding The Avengers, Whedon directed 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, the sequel did not live up to the hype, and Whedon reportedly clashed with executives while working on the project.

“The dreams were not an executive favorite either — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep…,” Whedon said on The Empire Film Podcast according to Vanity Fair.

He continued, “With the cave, it really turned into: they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm,’ — in a civilized way. I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really, really unpleasant.”

Joss Whedon thought Bucky Barnes ‘was supposed to die’ in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky seemingly dies after falling from a train. However, because he had been experimented on by Hydra, he survived the fall.

This is not revealed until Captain America: The Winter Solider. In the movie, fans and Captain America learn that Bucky survived and is now working as a brainwashed assassin for Hydra called the Winter Soldier.

In a 2015 interview with Mental Floss, Whedon discussed how Marvel resurrected characters that died in previous MCU films.

“A lot of people come back in The Winter Soldier. It’s a grand Marvel tradition. Bucky was supposed to die,” the director said.


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The director thinks it is realistic for Marvel characters to die

In The Avengers, Whedon killed off Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). The character was brought back to life for the Marvel TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to the MCU, but the character died in the movie’s final battle.

“There’s a thing where you can do that so many times and there’s nothing at stake. But it’s difficult because you’re living in franchise world—not just Marvel, but in most big films—where you can’t kill anyone, or anybody significant,” Whedon told Mental Floss.

He continued, “I think it’s disingenuous to say we’re going to fight this great battle, but there’s not going to be any loss. So my feeling in these situations with Marvel is that if somebody has to be placed on the altar and sacrificed, I’ll let you guys decide if they stay there.”