Unpacking the ‘Captain America: Civil War’ mid-credits scene

Allow Barnes the dignity of his choice.

12:00 pm EST, May 11, 2016

The Captain America: Civil War mid-credits scene upped the stakes – and the sadness – for Bucky and Steve. Two of our writers discuss how this could end up playing out.

The end of Civil War could have actually made for a great exit point from the MCU for both Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes – running off into the snowy sunset together as true vigilantes, or finding a quiet peace, never to be heard from again. However, the first of the movie’s two stingers sets up the next hurdle for our favorite super-soldier soulmates, as we see them granted asylum in Wakanda under the protection of King T’Challa. Miserably, Bucky decides to have himself frozen again rather than risk unleashing the Winter Soldier. Two of Hypable’s most vehement #TeamCap supporters, Natalie and Donya, break down the implications of the Captain America: Civil War mid-credits scene scene and how it may affect the future Marvel movies.

Natalie: Okay! So we are talking about the Civil War post-credits scenes, the most important part of any Marvel movie. (I have, for real, heard critics call that museum scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the best scene of the whole movie, and like… hard same, tbh.)

First of all: were you spoiled for them in any way?

Donya: No! I actually managed to make it into the film without getting spoiled for anything, except that Tony had a scene with Peter in Queens. But then, I kinda went cold turkey on social media, refused to read any of the press leading up to the release, and stopped watching trailers after the second one. Because Marvel movies are serious business…

Natalie: Okay, because I was spoiled for this, the Steve and Bucky one. I got spoiled on Twitter because the internet, and checked in with someone who saw the early U.S. screenings about whether it was legit. And so can you imagine my stress the entire movie and how upsetting I thought it was going to be?

Donya: Yeah, actually. God, I can’t imagine going through the whole movie the first time knowing that was coming.

Natalie: It was fun. But it actually wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. This is about Bucky getting re-frozen, I mean. I just knew that fact, that he chooses it. I didn’t know it would be in Wakanda with T’Challa or that it would be his final decision, I was kind of expecting it to be him full of angst, pitching it to Steve for the first time. This was more peaceful, but still mega depressing.

Donya: Well, yeah. Because now we only have our own imaginations to fill in the gaps of how that conversation with Steve actually went. I kinda need the fanfiction, though. Immediately.

Natalie: But let’s talk about the implications of this scene because my god, Marvel, can you just let Bucky Barnes live for like five seconds. Firstly, how likely is it that he would actually be triggered again? Like how necessary even is this? I’m loathe to say anything against it because it is his choice and all I want is for him to make choices, but like, can’t someone just incinerate that red book and then we’re good?

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Donya: Well, I guess it depends. If Zemo was smart enough that he could figure out that the Winter Solider could be controlled, there’s probably others out there who could come to the same conclusion. But like you said. Burn the book! Throw it into the bottom of the ocean. Something, anything!

Natalie: And even if he did get triggered, he’s in a safe place and he has no arm. T’Challa would just be like “Steve… he’s trying to bite me.”

Donya: So, you’d say he’s… ‘armless, really.

Natalie: PLEASE, Donya

Donya: I saw an opening, I took it.

Natalie: I don’t know. I very much get wanting to have that out of you, I do. But ughhhhhhhhhhhhh when will he be a semblance of happy? I love so much that T’Challa took their side in the end and wants to help them, that he was never actually Team Iron Man, he had a personal vendetta that he acknowledged was incorrect, and then took a step back, looked at the scenario, and helped Steve and Bucky, because he is so beautiful and calm and moral and good, and he chose them! So Bucky is gonna be in Black Panther, y/y?

Donya: Absolutely yes. I actually had some thoughts about that. Like, whether or not that is going to be the central conflict of the Black Panther movie. Because Steve warns him that if they find out, they’ll come for him.

Natalie: I feel like it won’t be the central conflict but I do want him there, with or without Steve, and not as just like a Han Solo wall decoration, T’Challa playing him whale noise CDs, etc. They have sleepovers! Bucky’s just REALLY SLEEPY, okay.

Donya: I mean, after all the running he had to do in Bucharest, I’d be sleepy too.

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Natalie: I refuse to talk about Bucharest and all Bucky’s little old lady neighbors whose building got trashed or how he probably made Steve go in and do clean up and help them out before going to Wakanda.

Donya: All he wanted to do was buy his plums. Make a pie. Or some jam.

Natalie: OFF TOPIC. He had a damn whisk out on the counter mid-use, Donya, and I die. OFF TOPIC. How about Steve? They’re hiding Bucky in Wakanda – is that now Steve’s home base as well? T’Challa has obviously granted him asylum and he is also on the run from the law. Like, we see him on the raft in the end of the movie, then in Wakanda. Was it vibing to you like he was planning to stay there along with Bucky, or that he was kinda dropping him off, all “see ya!”

Donya: I mean, I’d like to think Steve would stick around, and his band of fugitive not-Avengers would operate out of Wakanda, but it’s more likely he’d have left right after. Steve being in Wakanda would probably draw more attention, and run the risk of Bucky being discovered faster, I think.

Natalie: See, I vibed like he was taking off too, but someone else I know thought the opposite. Presumably they’d both be hidden, people wouldn’t know he was there – Steve himself I mean – but who knows what he’s got planned. GIVEN THAT HE’S NOT CAP ANYMORE, GLORY T’CHALLALUJAH. Ahem.

Donya: This is true. But also, do I honestly believe Steve will be able to keep himself out of trouble? UNLIKELY.

Natalie: Yeah, he gets itchy.

Donya: Maybe he’ll start operating under Nomad, like he did for a while in the comics. The name is kind of fitting.

Natalie: Don’t talk to me about Nomad, because that costume, NO. But yes, I could go with like a “they call him The Nomad” type of thing, rumors about him.

Donya: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. That it’d be Nomad in spirit, rather than deep-v’d spandex and capes. But if anyone could rock that look…

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Natalie: Please no. Evans would drive himself over a cliff.

Okay so… ultimately, did you find Bucky’s decision sad or positive? Like, it can be both. But to me there was an element of suicide to it, like I don’t think he actually expects a solution, because he’s just so resigned to everything being terrible and that’s how it is.

Donya: I think it’s both, really. Positive and sad. Because Bucky hasn’t had any agency since he fell off that train, and as painfully heart-wrenching as it is, at least it was his choice.

Natalie: Yeah. It’s kind of weird to me that he’d choose it and be so peaceful about it, because in the comics he has like a panic/rage attack even being near that equipment, which is sort of what fandom has been running with for the past two years, but honestly this Bucky, like Autonomy Plums Bucky, in the few moments before he is forced into fights with much resignation, is a lot gentler than I was expecting him to be.

Donya: Which is a pretty legitimate reaction, really. Can’t say I’d manage to be a beacon of calm around it either. But, also, it’s just… this is the first, real, big decision that he’s got to make for himself, about his life, about his body, and what he gets to do with it. Which is probably where the calm comes from.

Natalie: Yeah and obviously he’s going to be okay because Marvel luuuuuuuuuvs him. You wouldn’t know it from their merch – that’s mainly aimed at kids and features way too much Hulk, but God, he’s definitely the favorite of the directors and producers and most of the adult fans.

Donya: Yeah, forget #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan. #TeamBucky until I die.

Natalie: So he’ll be fine. I’m not sure he fully believes he will be fine, hence the suicide vibes, but I know he will be. And like… I feel like in another life Steve would have really fought him on it, like thrown stuff at a wall fought him, but that he’s biting his tongue because of the whole can’t take choices away from him thing. He didn’t want to emotionally manipulate him or add any weight or guilt. Then again, I still think he threw stuff at a wall. Just maybe not where Bucky could see.

Donya: I don’t think it’d be an easy thing for Steve to accept, but he would, because it’s Bucky. And all he’s ever really wanted is for Bucky to be safe and happy. But I’m pretty sure something got broken. Privately. And not just Steve’s heart.

Natalie: I mean, Steve is a very angry person, but in this movie, I think the actual clincher about Team Cap and Team Iron Man – and it’s why T’Challa chooses him in the end – is that Steve actually is handling things rationally. Outside the laws imposed on him, yes, but he doesn’t actually go all crazy, unlike Tony, whose downfall comes in acting on irrational emotions, and that might be the lesson of the movie – grow the hell up and don’t wreak personal vengeance. So Steve is maybe more balanced now. But that’s a whole other thing not related to the post-credits scenes. Poor Steve, once again and always #foreveralone…

Donya: Well, until Infinity War, at least..

Natalie: So yeah, how will this situation play out? Because there are a couple of options in terms of helping Bucky and how he might come back:

1) Wakanda is super advanced and they help him and he’s awake in Black Panther.
2) Wanda may have the power to help his mind supernaturally.
3) Tony’s weird BARF tech, seen in this movie with the ability to remove or change memories. Tony is the one to fix the trigger in comics canon.

Which of these do you like?

Donya: I’ve been mulling over this a lot. Because, like you said, Wakanda has a lot of advanced technology, but also is at this weird intersection between that and something more mystical. But I think in the end, I’m leaning toward the BARF tech, or a variation of it. Otherwise, why would they introduce it? I mean, other than a way to remind us that Tony’s parents died and he doesn’t deal with that well, at all.

Natalie: I really hope it’s NOT Tony, a) because Wakanda is more advanced than him and b) because just… I’m tired of his shit. But yeah, I don’t know why they’d introduce that tech otherwise.

Donya: Though, I’m going to throw out a rogue option four. Doctor Strange.

Natalie: Cool, yeah, let’s include Strange, that’s something we’ll all want to watch. Very plausible given comics canon but like… nah.

Donya: Hey, everyone knows my feelings about Doctor Strange. I’ve definitely… not been quiet about that. But. Speaking logically… Oh god, I’m going Vulcan. In all seriousness though. It’ll probably be a variation of BARF, probably fine-tuned and repurposed by the Wakandans.

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Natalie: I just really don’t want it to be Tony. Sorry Karen, if you’re reading this. But he hasn’t earned the right to be Bucky’s hero. I’m okay with their thing in the comics when Tony fixes him and gives him the shield because his conflict wasn’t directly WITH him, but in this circumstance, nah. And T’Challa is so pure and perfect and like… what he says about Bucky and his father? Like that is a hero, that is a savior.

Donya: It would also be a fantastic conclusion to that arc for T’Challa too. Because from the word go of Civil War, he was gunning for Bucky, driven by his vengeance for what he thought he’d done. More so, I think, than Tony. So for him to, in the end, help pioneer that technology and use it to give Bucky back his life, as much as he can. Would kind of be a beautiful thing. Because Bucky and T’Chaka were the victims in a war that neither of them had any say in. So for T’Challa to truly set aside his vengeance and make it right. I’d love to see that as the ultimate conclusion.

Natalie: Yeah, and like, when T’Challa figures out Bucky wasn’t responsible, he stops, unlike Tony who has no actual care about going after Bucky at all except “probably dangerous,” then sees PROOF of Bucky’s brainwashing and still does his personal vendetta on the unwashed Bucky. Unbrainwashed Bucky. I mean he’s also unwashed, let’s be real. But like he gets that proof but it still doesn’t stop his personal vendetta. whereas T’Challa’s reaction to both finding out he was wrong about Bucky and also his reaction to actually confronting Zemo is so beautiful and perfect and full of grace. Tony is a brat in comparison.

Donya: T’Challa’s scene with Zemo is one of my absolute favorites. Especially when he says, “the living aren’t done with you yet.” It’s a complete turn around from where he began, after the U.N. explosion, and T’Chaka telling us he doesn’t believe in that kind of diplomacy.

Natalie: And that’s the actual key to the conflict in the film – letting those licensed to do so deliver justice. It’s a combination of the best of what steve and tony were both making their point about, like that you don’t get to be a big pissy baby and make your own rules or dole out your own punishment, that you be a damn grown up and handle your shit.
But yes. “Let them try.” I’m in love with him. Imagine T’Challa actually mobilizing Wakanda against people coming to try and get Bucky, or Steve.

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Natalie: I really hope that Bucky IS in Black Panther – I’m a little worried that the plot might end up being “Steve dies via Thanos in Infinity War Part 1 which makes Tony all sorry, and he helps Bucky then makes him Cap for one movie until Steve gets brought back in Infinity War Part 2.” That’s the basic theory that a few people have come up with independently, and I think Nerdist just did an interview with Sebastian that added fuel to that, but I’d prefer that wasn’t the case.

Donya: And that also raises an interesting question, of how much diplomatic immunity T’Challa also has as king of Wakanda. Because he broke the Accords when he went gunning for Bucky, as much as Steve and Sam did. But the repercussions for him were far less. So, even if they did come for Bucky, would T’Challa and Wakanda be obligated to hand him over regardless?

Natalie: I mean I think the Accords were JUST for the Avengers, not all enhanced people. T’Challa was arrested because he was a participant in some chaos and destruction but hes not under the Accords, and he’s the king of his own country, I’m definitely presuming he has diplomatic immunity in his own country and he does not HAVE to give up anyone. They cannot extradite someone legally if that government is protecting them, which is why real criminals go to other countries to get diplomatic immunity in the first place.

Donya: So, really. There’s nothing that the U.N. can, legally do. Even if they find out Bucky is there. So the safest hands are really T’Challa’s, for this, anyway. But, I’d love to see Bucky in Black Panther. I’d want to see the relationship between him and T’Challa explored more, and what Bucky would do with a mind that was completely his own again.

Natalie: Yeah as much as I want to handcuff Steve and Bucky together for eternity, I would take just Bucky in Black Panther, like hanging with T’Challa.

Donya: Because, also, I think that it’d be a great place for him to recover. Emotionally. Isolated and well. Without judgement.

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Natalie: One last thing about Steve and Bucky and how Steve reacted, to the freezing. Remember what Peggy said to him when Bucky fell from the train and Steve was all self hatey? “Allow Barnes the dignity of his choice.” Should be the subtitle for the entire franchise tbh.

Donya: Agree. So damn hard. And that sums up that entire mid-credits scene so well. Because however any of us feel about it, it’s Bucky’s choice. And above all else, that’s what’s important. Bless that Peggy Carter wisdom. Always telling us how it is.

Natalie: Okay as much as I could keep talking about Bucky and his autonomy for literally years, we have a whole OTHER scene to pick apart. Is there anything else about this one you wanted to add?

Donya: No! I think I’m good. Well, except for… get Black Panther in my life already. Doctor who?

Natalie: T’Challalujah. Sweet dreams, Bucky. Steve, stay out of trouble and don’t get yourself killed before bae wakes up.

Donya: And if anyone starts talking about a deep-v and cape aesthetic, walk away. Quickly.

Natalie: Just say no.

Donya: Love yourself.

Check back on Hypable tomorrow when Natalie and Donya will break down the second, Spidey-centric Civil War post-credits scene.

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