So I just saw a quote from the Russo’s and they basically said “He dropped the shield, he rejected the Captain America identity, and embraced the Steve Rogers one instead.” I, of course, started sobbing at this part, but when I read this quote it all became more clear.
When Tony says “I was wrong about you, the whole world was wrong about you” is 100% true. The whole world, even his friends, saw Steve as this selfless, patriotic hero, willing to save the day no matter what. But that’s not necessarily all Steve, that’s mostly Captain America. Yes, Steve is incredibly selfless and brave, but he was also just a kid from Brooklyn before getting the Cap persona. When he went under, he essentially lost everyone who knew him as “just steve” not “Captain America”.
So when Bucky comes back in his life, he’s more Steve Rogers. “When he said Bucky, I was the 16 year old kid from Brooklyn again.” Steve doesn’t have to be Captain America around Bucky. Steve doesn’t have to be this hero that everyone needs him to be. Because Bucky would rather be saved by Steve Rogers than Captain America.
Steve dropped the shield, rejected the idea of Captain America, because in reality, he isn’t just “Captain America,” he’s also Steve Rogers. And that scrawny kid from Brooklyn would do anything to save his best friend, even if that meant rejecting what the world saw him as.