Did Marvel’s Bucky Barnes Hint That He’s Bisexual?

Image via Disney+

Is the Winter Soldier bisexual? Some Marvel fans seem to think so, but would Marvel actually follow through with that?

The new Disney+ show The Falcon and the Winter is currently airing with weekly installments. The show premiered on March 19th and instantly got Marvel Cinematic Universe fans buzzing. But one line has created a specific fervor in LGBTQ fans and fans of LGBTQ media. Specifically, fans have dug up the line’s hidden significance and think it might be implying one character’s bisexuality.

In the first episode, James “Bucky” Barnes or The Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan) goes on a date with a waitress named Leah. On the date, Leah asks Bucky several questions about his life and who he is as a person.

Image via Disney+

“Have you dated much since half the fish in the sea came back” she asks while referencing events from Avengers: Endgame.

Bucky responds that he’s tried the “whole dating app thing.” And that “It’s pretty crazy. A lot of weird pictures.” He then elaborates “I mean, tiger photos? Half the time, I don’t even know what I’m looking at, it’s a lot.”

Some fans of the series who’ve also been swiping on Tinder picked up on this line and speculated that it might be implying Bucky is looking at both female and male profiles.

As Author Saeed Jones asked on Twitter, “Straight people, I have a question. On Tinder, is it men who tend to post pictures with tigers all the time? Or women? I ask because Bucky complained about all the tiger pictures he sees on Tinder. (I want him to be bi so bad. LOL.).”

Podcaster Lauren Shippen then wrote, “As a fellow bi who was on the dating apps for a bit, the tiger photo thing is very much a male phenomenon, so Bucky has his filters set to men and women, bi Bucky is real, it’s canon now, try to take him from me!!!!!!!”

But is this true? Is Bucky, aka “The Winter Soldier” bisexual? Right now, we don’t know. That episode premiered two weeks ago and there wasn’t any hint or indication of Bucky’s sexuality in the second episode. We’ll have to wait and see how the next four episodes in the series handle or don’t handle the topic. 

In defense of the idea, many fans have speculated over the character’s sexuality for years. After first appearing on Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky Barnes’ entire purpose revolved around Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers (Captain America). And many of Rogers’ motivations revolved around Bucky. Because of this, the ship/couple name Stucky became popular online.

In addition, some Marvel Comics fans believe that the MCU’s Bucky is based on the comic character Arnie Roth. While the comics’ Bucky was a child, the MCU version was aged up to match Rodger’s age. To help with that, the MCU filled Bucky’s backstory with the Roth character’s storyline. In the comics, Roth acted like a big brother to Rogers by protecting him from bullies, serving in the military with Rogers, and being the only living remnant of Roger’s old life after de-icing. The most interesting factor for us here is that Arnie Roth is gay. But, will that portion of the character be transferred over to the MCU’s Bucky?

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Let’s be real though, this is Marvel and Disney. And, would they actually go through with making Bucky Barnes bisexual? It’s a tough question to answer. When asked about it directly by NME, showrunner Malcolm Spellman said, “I’m not diving down rabbit holes, but just keep watching…” That sounds like a promising response… or a good misdirection.

But let’s look at this from both a creative and business perspective. The real reason representation hasn’t happened so far is because the MCU is a juggernaut business looking to appeal to global audiences. Unfortunately, that includes homophobic countries like China, Russia, or Malaysia. Because of that, we’ve been previously handed lackluster representation (Avengers: Endgame), queer coding (Bucky), or queer characters who never got their sexual orientations acknowledged (Black Panther and Thor: Ragnorak).

Marvel’s Phase 4, however, is meant to create representation with dynamic heroes of many races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, and more. In addition, these Disney+ series give Marvel the time to flesh out characters without direct global intrusion. So, could Bucky come out through a Disney+ show? Maybe? Though, let’s keep our hopes and hype in check. Because, again, it’s Marvel.

But we shouldn’t lose all hope. There is some representation on the way. The Eternals will present the first openly gay superhero. Though, he’s one character in a largely crowded film. So, it’s very likely he won’t have much going on besides being gay. Then, the Young Avengers are slowly being introduced to the MCU. Wiccan and Speed had their first appearance in WandaVision and both characters will grow up to be queer superheroes. Their bisexual teammate Miss America is also set to appear in Doctor Strange: And The Multiverse of Madness. But those characters will take years to come to fruition and who knows if the screen versions will get to be like the badass, queer characters they are in the comics.

So while Bucky’s sexuality is still up in the air, there is some hope. But, again, let’s be careful with it.

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