On my last fanfic post, it was pointed out that the characterization of Bucky Barnes in one story felt a bit off. One of the great things about fanfic, though, is that there are a gazillion different takes on any given character. On AO3, at the time of writing this, there are 9323 fics that have Bucky Barnes as a character.
Since I’ve gone a bit crazy recently with how many of these I’ve read, I figured I would share with a selection of stories covering a range of different Bucky-recovering-from-Winter-Soldier characterizations.*
All of the following stories are fanfic based on Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Bucky Characterization: Fragile
[untitled Bucky-on-a-bus fic]
Summary (aka the first line of the story): It’s hot on the bus, and Bucky’s trying hard to keep away from the people next to him.
Why I like it: The story is a reminder that along with all the other evil things that were done to him, his surgery and prosthetic were also done without consent. And yet, this story is hopeful. Bucky is still very much lost but there’s hope that even if he doesn’t manage to discover himself, he will be able to create something new.
Bucky Characterization: Cold-blooded
Summary: There had maybe always been a part of Bucky Barnes, that was a stone cold killer… the history books may have forgotten that, but Steve hasn’t.
Why I like it: A lot of Bucky-recovering-from-being-the-Winter-Soldier stories stress the differences between Bucky and the Winter Soldier, reassuring everyone that Bucky was in no way responsible for his actions as a brainwashed assassin. Fair enough. This fic, though, focuses on the way Bucky and the Winter Solider are the same. This is also a character study of Steve Rogers as much as it is of Bucky Barnes.
Bucky Characterization: Long-suffering
Too Late to Apologize
Summary: Bucky goes to the big Trader Joe’s in Union Square for toilet paper and peanut butter cups. When he gets out, his minder is across the street, conspicuously reading a newspaper in the middle of the sidewalk. Bucky has to squint to make out the headline, which is CAPTAIN AMERICA ARRESTED IN ZUCCOTTI PARK. “Oh, come on,” he mutters beneath his breath.
Why I like it: The whole super hero business takes a back-seat in this story, to just the tasks of regular life. Bucky is still piecing together his life but he’s always going to be there for Steve. (And Steve is still going to get himself in trouble standing up to bullies.)
Bucky Characterization: Determined
Soft Spot for the Hell Raisin’ Boy
Summary: The Winter Soldier takes an interest in Sam Wilson. Bucky Barnes wants to tell him how to be Steve Rogers’s best friend.
Why I like it: This is kind of ludicrous but I like it, because while Steve Rogers is desperately trying to find Bucky Barnes, Bucky thinks Sam Wilson will make a better best friend to Steve than he will. Sam is clearly a saint to put up with this.
Bucky Characterization: Laid-back
Summary: What it says on the tin. In which Tony is kidnapped, Clint is a fangirl, Bruce sees echoes of the past and Thor is Thor.
Why I like it: All of these people have had seriously messed up lives and for any of them to be functioning at all, they have to have learned to just roll with it. Here is a Winter Solider/ Bucky who basically fits right in with the rest of the Avengers.
Bucky Characterization: Robot
Clint Barton’s Home for Wayward Mind Wiped Assassins
Summary: “Where ever you were, whatever you did and whoever you did it for, it’s over. You need to pretend to be a person now, okay?”
Additional comment: This is the Clint Barton from the recent Hawkeye comic books. You don’t actually need to have read them to enjoy this, but it does add depth to the story if you have.
Why I like it: This is almost more of a Clint Barton character study than a Bucky Barnes ones, and yet, I do think it does a wonderful job of showing Barnes’ recovery from being a brainwashed assassin to being a human being who gets to make choices and have friends.
Bucky Characterization: Feral cat
That Kind of Day
Summary: Carolyn Brown’s having one of those days. Her truck’s been stolen, she’s about to lose her job, and now a crazy Hydra assassin has broken into her apartment to ambush Captain America.
Why I like it: First of all, it’s an outsider perspective which is always hilarious because regular people have a very different take on the craziness that is superheroes. Second, the Bucky in this is like a really dangerous feral cat. He wants to come in, but he’s not quite sure how to.
And finally some complete crack,** just in case you didn’t think any of the previous characterizations were too ridiculous:
Bucky Characterization: Domesticated maybe? Flirtatious definitely
Summary: Captain America is not in New York, so the Winter Soldier is.
Additional comment: The other main character in this is Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies. I’m not sure how comprehensible this fic would be if you don’t know Darcy Lewis or Jane Foster.
Why I like this: A story doesn’t have to have good characterizations in order to be a whole lot of fun. This story is absolutely ridiculous but still makes me grin.
* It was really hard to narrow this down. I kept on wanting to recommend ALL THE STORIES!!!
** In fanfic circles, “crack” describes the really ludicrous stories that no one is even going to pretend is likely or makes-sense, but it still a whole lot of fun. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ve also run across the phrase “[the author] smoked crack so you don’t have to” in reference to some stories.