I have made very little secret, in the past, of my dislike for the comic book character of the Winter Soldier. I have always found him to be emblematic of a certain trend in superhero comics that I'm not fond of, a desperate need to pretend that the genre doesn't have its roots in juvenile fiction and a tendency to paper over everything that could be considered immature with the same overcompensatory obsession with violence, guns and ruthless brutality. Retconning Bucky into a Super Seekrit Black Ops Assassin always felt kind of pathetic to me, even before they transformed him into a Super Seekrit Black Ops Cyborg Soldier.
(Um, for those of you who don't know, according to Brubaker even before Bucky became the Winter Soldier, he was a ruthless assassin killing off Captain America's enemies from the shadows so that Cap could continue to be a star-spangled propaganda machine, and the whole "camp mascot, cute kid, bad puns" thing was a ruse to divert suspicion. Y'know, just the way that Jack Kirby intended.)
Actually, that's kind of the point. I feel like when you write for a shared universe, there's a certain responsibility to respect the work that came before you, and I feel like turning Bucky into a merciless shadow assassin for the US government because you think it's "uncool" that Captain America used to hang out with a teenage boy in short shorts. If you don't want to deal with that part of Captain America's history, that's fine. There are a lot of other things to do with Cap. But retconning it into something nasty and dark and mean always struck me as an unprofessional way to play in the big sandbox.
(And frankly, if you'll allow me a second parenthetical aside in three paragraphs, it felt emblematic of Brubaker's treatment of Cap's mythos in general. I was never the biggest fan of the Jack Monroe Nomad, but I thought the character had been well-written in the past and had potential for more stories, and turning him into a mentally unstable psychotic and then killing him off just to show everyone how badass the Winter Soldier was left a bad taste in my mouth. It was, again, disrespectful of the character's history.)
So with all that said, why am I not just okay with but enthusiastic about the Marvel Cinematic Universe Winter Soldier? Because it's not a retcon. They are not leapfrogging the character from Point A, pun-happy kid who has the dream job of being Captain America's sidekick, to Point Z, grim and merciless gun-toting cyborg who kills people because That's What Cool Heroes Do. They're telling the story of Cap's childhood friend, the guy who always looked after Cap and fought alongside him in wars small and large, who was turned into something terrible against his will and is trying to reclaim his humanity. That's not the story Kirby told, but it's also not a repudiation of it. I can take that Bucky Barnes and that Winter Soldier on their own merits, and enjoy them for what they are.
And in a month or so, I get to see the next installment of their story. I can't wait.