Bucky’s storyline in the premiere episode of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is even sadder than you think.
Over the course of Episode 1, viewers saw Sebastian Stan’s Bucky struggle to come to terms with the lingering trauma and guilt from his days as The Winter Soldier. And there’s one moment with Bucky in the Falcon and Winter Soldier premiere that also serves as a tragic connection to a memorable scene from another MCU title.
An Unexpected Callback — Bucky’s introduction in the Falcon and Winter Soldier premiere comes in the form of a flashback — one that sees him perform a hit as The Winter Soldier and then ruthlessly murder a young man who accidentally witnesses the act. The episode then shows Bucky wake up in his apartment — the memory doubling as a nightmare.
This is the moment that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier subtly calls back to one of its MCU predecessors. Because Bucky isn’t sleeping on his bed or even on the couch, but on the floor.
It’s a revelation that connects back to a conversation Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson has with Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers in the opening scene of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The conversation in question sees Sam and Steve bond over their shared inability to sleep comfortably in their beds at home after making do with far less overseas.
“When I was over there, I’d sleep on the ground, use rocks for pillows like a caveman,” says Sam, with Steve quickly adding that sleeping in a bed again feels like “lying on a marshmallow” and that it makes him feel like he’s gonna “sink right to the floor.”
Bucky’s PTSD — The Easter egg The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s adds another layer of heartbreak to Bucky’s current situation.
Similar to Steve, Bucky’s clearly struggling to catch up on all the time he lost as The Winter Soldier, all while simultaneously attempting to make amends for the hurt and pain he caused as the notorious HYDRA agent. He’s plagued by nightmares (reminders of his past mistakes) and can’t quite seem to connect with anyone in the present. And just like Sam and Steve, he’s still not over his time as a soldier, hence his decision to sleep on the floor.
Fortunately, if the show’s premiere is any indication, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will probably end up spending a good amount of time focused on Bucky’s path to redemption and reconciliation. That’s good news considering Bucky’s character growth has stalled ever since the events of Captain America: Civil War.
The Easter egg works as a way to give us as viewers further insight into exactly how much Bucky is struggling at the start of the series, but it will hopefully make his rise at the end of the show that much more cathartic as well.
The Inverse Analysis — Despite opening with a memorable action setpiece, most of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiere is spent on intimate character moments. That’s not necessarily surprising coming off the smaller, character-driven storytelling of WandaVision, but it’s still very effective in establishing and exploring the internal struggles that both Bucky and Sam are going through at the start of the series.
What fans can look forward to from the show’s coming episodes, then, is seeing just how Sam and Bucky force and help each other get past their own personal dilemmas and demons. And maybe that means that by the end of the series, Bucky won’t be sleeping on the floor anymore.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is streaming now on Disney+.