Bucky Barnes has been through a lot. Since his very first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: The First Avenger, he's been killed, revived, brainwashed by Hydra, tortured, used as an assassin, reunited with his BFF, framed for the murder of the King of Wakanda, and put back on ice. What could possibly happen to the Winter Soldier in Avengers: Infinity War that would surprise fans? Permanent death would probably do the trick. As much as fans want to know if Bucky will die in Avengers: Infinity War, that's a question no one, even actor Sebastian Stan, can answer.
The MCU is nothing if not a lover of secrets (seriously, they're hiding more of those than Gretchen Wieners' hair), so fans won't be surprised to hear that when Bustle visited the set of Infinity War with reporters last year, Stan was careful not to give anything away about Bucky's ultimate fate. All he said was that during Bucky's trip to Black Panther's homeland, the Winter Soldier was doing "the same thing he was doing in Wakanda the last time you saw him in Wakanda."
At the end of Civil War, fans saw Bucky being frozen and treated in Wakanda in an effort to cure him of his Hydra brainwashing. Since then, we've seen a Bucky update with the second Black Panther post-credits scene, where the Winter Soldier was up and rehabilitating with help from Shuri. So, it looks like when fans reunite with Bucky, he'll be on the road to recovery. (And maybe a potential love story with Shuri? #TeamShucky)
Stan is good at keeping Marvel secrets, but he did let one interesting detail slip when asked how Winter Soldier responds to Thanos' arrival. "Winter Soldier is just enjoying his new arm. And that's really where he's at," Stan said. Assuming Bucky got his new arm, as seen in the Infinity War trailers, before the Avengers were alerted to this new extra terrestrial threat, this suggests that his rehab is going well. Shuri wouldn't outfit him with a new prosthetic if she didn't think he wasn't going to use it against her and Wakanda.
During the set visit, Stan also hinted that his work with Shuri has brought him more than just a new arm, telling reporters that Winter Solder has "absolutely" had some form of therapy since the end of Civil War. "Yes. Definitely," he said. Suffice to say that the Bucky fans will see in Infinity War will be unlike any version of the character we've seen before. "It's certainly been a lot more of a stable situation for my guy, from what we've been used to and stuff," Stan said — stable, but not all rainbows and butterflies. "You can't just turn a hard right and everything's great."
Bucky will always be a complex guy, but could this brighter, more balanced version of the Winter Soldier meet his demise? No one can be happy for long, especially in the MCU, and it would be just like Marvel to finally give the Winter Soldier a shot at a normal life only to have him die in battle tragically.
If Bucky does die in Infinity War, that would be a huge blow to fans who have been waiting for him to take over the Captain America shield when Steve Rogers eventually retires (or dies himself). Stan himself has said he would be excited to put on the stars and stripes, and, according to a report from Nerdist, he still has four more movies on his Marvel contract, not including Infinity War, or the sequel tentatively titled Avengers 4.
Fans hoping that Bucky survives Infinity War will probably be happy with the film. It seems very unlikely that Bucky will die in the movie, if not because of Stan's contract or because of the Winter Soldier's critical role in making Captain America the self-sacrificing hero that he is, then simply because it would be a waste. Out of all the MCU characters stuffed into Infinity War, Bucky is one of the most interesting and one of the least explored. His story as a modern day redeemed assassin has so many places to go, it would be a shame to see it end abruptly so soon.
Additional reporting by Rachel Simon