William H. Foster III, comic book historian, on representation in comic books. From PBS’s Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.
Because a post crossed my dash recently asking why we need to push for more representation in comic books and media in general. 50 years later, this man still tears up because in one panel, Peter Parker spoke to an unnamed black kid. That’s why all marginalized groups need representation.
Who do you think Bucky prefers? Preserum Steve or post serum Steve?
…It’s complicated. Because I feel like Steve doesn’t like his post-serum body as much as people would think.
Like, yes, he’s healthier than he’s ever been, and stronger, and more conventionally attractive, and people will instinctively listen to him now (as his very presence demands a certain respect), but it’s also not him. Steve didn’t go out looking to change himself; he just wanted to help with the war effort, and altering his body was the only way the government would let him.
I highly doubt Steve regrets his choice – from there, he was able to save Bucky, fight for freedom, and do everything he had hoped for – but it’s still not his body. He can’t not have some body dysmorphia, because it happened so suddenly, with such vague understanding of what would occur. Because Captain America literally took over Steve’s body, and people have trouble seeing Steve because all they see is Cap.
Except Bucky saw Steve. He saw Captain America in Steve, not the other way around, and he didn’t need Captain America in the way Steve did; he felt Steve was fine the way he was, which maybe lacks empathy but it’s also the truth. Post-serum is everything Bucky didn’t want for Steve: he never wanted Steve to go to war, and now Steve is trapped in never-ending battles because he can’t escape the superhero body. He didn’t want Steve to lie, or change himself for someone else, and he did. There’s probably jealousy, too: maybe Bucky feels like Steve doesn’t need him anymore, that he’s not the ‘attractive’ friend, that he’s not wanted, that he’s no longer looked up to, and all those negative emotions that sound bitter but oftentimes can’t be helped.
But… Steve’s new body is attractive. It does make him healthier. It did help him save Bucky, reunited them, and allowed them to fight side-by-side. It made Steve happy. So as much as Bucky might wistfully long for preserum Steve sometimes… it’s probably no different than how he might wish for his old body, sometimes. For old times. They can’t go back, and there’s no point in dwelling on it. Steve is still Steve, even with a new body, and Bucky is fine with that, even if he finds it odd sometimes.
tl;dr: Bucky might have some hidden emotions, but most of all he just wants Steve to be happy. And if Steve is okay, then Bucky is okay.