Marvel fans may risk stylistic whiplash in jumping right from WandaVision to The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The former Disney+ series founded its appeal on magic, marital love, and the sitcoms of American television yore; the latter seems to veer toward street-level action and the acidic banter of the inseparable frenemies Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson.

We see just such an exchange in this new clip from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The eponymous duo quibble about the nature of the enemies they’ve faced, and which they’ll no doubt face again. But the truculent tête-à-tête gives way to an interesting new tidbit about the stone-faced Bucky Barnes. Turns out, he may have been a major geek back in his pre-Winter Soldierin’ days.

As you may have guessed, the moment we’re talking about is the one in which he admits to having read The Hobbit back in 1937. The joke lands as payoff to the longstanding tradition of Steve Rogers not getting references to late-20th century pop culture. But it raises some suspicions. Yes, The Hobbit was originally published in 1937, and then brought to American soil a year later. And yes, it was hardly a commercial failure upon initial release. But it was also something of a curio at the time.

Long-haired Bucky Barnes looking pensive and filled with ennui.


It didn’t take off with adults until the 1960s, when it earned a reputation across American college campuses. So what was brawny Brooklyn boy Bucky doing reading what was then considered little more than a charming children’s book? Clearly, there’s a sensitive side to the Winter Soldier that we haven’t seen before. And maybe the new Disney+ series will pull the curtain back, revealing the beating heart of the stoic mercenary.

Avengers: Age of Ultron showed us the softer side of Hawkeye in the form of his countryside home and loving family. So is Bucky’s version of that a library full of cutting-edge fantasy novels? If that‘s the ultimate twist of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, then consider us satisfied fans.

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