The Falcon and the Winter Soldier 's grand finale sees Sam Wilson finally take up the mantle of Captain America. The show ends with a change to the show's title card each episode begins with; instead of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier , it now reads Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
While many fans were thrilled to see Sam's new title made official in this way, some were unhappy that Bucky Barnes was still being referred to as the "Winter Soldier" after spending the series working to move on from his dark past.
However, head writer Malcolm Spellman has explained that this shouldn't be taken too seriously, assuring fans that Bucky has moved past his days as the notorious brainwashed HYDRA assassin.
BUCKY BARNES IS NO LONGER THE WINTER SOLDIER
In an interview with ComicBook.com , Malcolm Spellman expressed his desire that "people will forget that end title card as being an indicator of a commitment from Marvel." He explained Bucky's mindset at the beginning of the series versus the end, and how he overcame being dragged down by the idea he was still the Winter Soldier, even if only partially.
"I hope people will forget that end title card as being an indicator of a commitment from Marvel. I think he has slayed that dragon, personally, and I don't think I'll be in trouble for that. So when Bucky enters the series, he's never ever shaken what he believes, which is, 'I remember everyone, murders, which means that part of me was there, which means a part of the Winter Soldier is me.' And if even a fraction of Winter Soldier is you, you are an awful person. You know what I'm saying?"
Spellman also touched on Bucky's storyline in the final episode, citing the moment he saved a group of GRC members in a van as "his first time being a hero."
"I think Bucky enters this thing truly believing he is kind of the Winter Soldier no matter what anyone says. By the end, he has the moment with the old man, but more importantly, nobody has caught this... I've been saying it all day. In the scene with the Flag-Smashers in Episode 6, when one of those people gets out of that van and thanks Bucky, that's his first time being a hero. So by the end of this series, Bucky is emerging as having shed the burden of the Winter Soldier. He has found a new family, ironically, it's a Black family in Louisiana, you know what I'm saying? And he has tasted being a hero for the first time. And I think he's now free to become something amazing."
A POST-WINTER SOLDIER BUCKY
Bucky could be considered a hero during World War II and while helping the Avengers fight Thanos. However, the moment Spellman mentions is the first time he's been directly acknowledged as a hero at least since before he became the Winter Soldier, and possibly ever considering he was overshadowed by the fanfare surrounding Captain America while fighting in the war.
Bucky's future in the MCU seemed much more vague and uncertain at the end of the series compared to most other characters, but Spellman's comments that "he's now free to become something amazing" indicates that the character will be returning to the franchise at some point.