Anonymous asked: I read your Winter Soldier analysis, and I have a question : you say that "There’s a reason his code name is drawn from an investigation into one of the ugliest chapters of American history." Please help a non-American understand what you meant? I mean I obviously see the Cold War reference in the movie, but from what you've written it seems like something more subtle *within* the Cold War... shit, I mean just "Cold War" seems too evident and I can't find the deeper meaning?
Oh gosh, don’t feel bad, there are plenty of Americans who have never even heard of this.
The Winter Soldier Investigation was a 1971 veteran-organized media event intended to draw attention to the war crimes that had taken place in Vietnam. Directly inspired by the exposure of the My Lai Massacre (the mass murder of over five hundred unarmed civilians by American troops) in 1969, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) brought together discharged servicemen from every branch of the military to discuss the atrocities they had seen and committed during their time in the war. They hoped bring these tragedies before the public eye, and to prove that American military policies led directly to the death and torment of civilians. Eventually a transcript from this conference made its way before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the Fullbright Hearings.
When Ed Brubaker, the author who wrote the original Winter Soldier arc, chose the name, he wanted something that would call up both cold Siberian winters and the atrocities of war. This fit the bill.
But the term itself, the idea of “winter soldiers”, was coined by VVAW as a response to the writings of Thomas Paine, who described the men who deserted at Valley Forge during the American Revolution:
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
A winter soldier is someone who will warm their hands over a meager fire and weather the cold. Someone who refuses to abandon their country and its potential, no matter what the personal cost.
So how’s that for a weird little twist? According to Thomas Paine—activist, political philosopher, and revolutionary—the real winter soldier is Captain America.
No. The “winter soldier” of the Thomas Paine variety is Bucky of the comics. It’s kind of the essence of his character.
While all of the information about the Winter Soldier Investigation is interesting, it has no relevance on Bucky Barnes. The title is taken strictly from the Thomas Paine quotation.
No, Brubaker was definitely aware of both the Investigation and the Thomas Paine quote when he came up with the name:
"I came up with the name in 2004, when I was pitching for [Captain America]. I liked the sound of it for a Russian assassin from the cold war, and also liked its connections to Thomas Paine, my personal favorite founding father. The “summer soldier” quote is from The American Crisis, and I believe he meant that the summer soldiers are only patriots when it’s easy to be, but the winter soldier is a true soldier for the cause.
But yes, the first time I heard the specific name was when reading about the Vietnam War and the Winter Soldier hearings. I think that sparked something, a name that could imply Russia’s cold winters and the cold war, that was also tied to atrocities in another war, and that connected all the way back to the American Revolution. It’s a very evocative name for a Captain America villain”. x
Ah! The more you know! Thank you very much for citing the information. I had only read about him being inspired by the Thomas Paine quotation. Thanks!
Reblogging for the Brubaker quote. Because ALL of the meanings of “Winter Soldier” were meant to apply to Bucky, because obviously the character as Brubaker wrote him encompasses all those things - the cold, the unwilling war criminal, and the soldier who never flinches from what he feels is his duty no matter how hard things get. The MCU just hasn’t gotten to some of the best aspects of his story yet.
I think it’s important not to strip Bucky of the title of a winter soldier, because he in himself embodies an indictment of the human cost of war (both the victims and perpetrators of this kind of violence and where those two things intersect) that the hearings were meant to expose. However, Steve is the one exposing that underbelly in this film. That’s also important. The thing is, you can’t have Steve without Bucky, and I don’t mean that on a personal level. You can’t have Steve in everything he represents, the bravery and nobility and hope for the future, without Bucky in everything he represents, which is atrocity and sacrifice (that is, the sacrifice by those in positions of power of those who are not). Steve himself doesn’t try to pass off the burden of this: when Fury speaks of the “greatest generation,” Steve includes himself in it; he says, we compromised. On a personal level he feels responsible for what happened to Bucky, but narratively speaking Steve is also acknowledging his own part in what happened to him. Don’t forget that so many of Steve’s choices, his need to be who he became particularly for the war effort, were what caused Bucky to become what he became. Don’t forget Bucky was there for Steve, not because he would have chosen it for himself. So they’re both winter soldiers, because the two go hand in hand.
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