James Gunn Defends MCU’s Controversial Sebastian Stan Bucky Decision

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
James Gunn, Bucky Barnes, Marvel Studios

Director James Gunn has addressed his decision to involve Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special in a unique way.

Marvel Studios' second Disney+ Special Presentation had plenty of surprises to offer, but one of the biggest came as Rocket unwrapped his festive gift from Nebula with Bucky Barnes' robotic arm.

The heartfelt gift from Karen Gillan's cyborg alien finally delivered on an off-handed interaction between Rocket and the Winter Soldier in Avengers: Infinity War as the talking raccoon said, "I'll get that arm."

Bucky Arm Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Marvel Studios

Although fans were pleased to see the reference to the Captain America franchise mainstay, it left many wondering how Nebula was able to get her hands on Bucky's famous replacement arm and where that leaves Sebastian Stan's character going forward. Well, director James Gunn has opened up on that.

James Gunn Explains How Nebula Got Bucky's Arm

Nebula Bucky Arm The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Marvel Studios

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special director James Gunn has defended his controversial decision to include Bucky Barnes' arm in his Disney+ venture, with some having shared outrage toward him for the scene.

Gunn explained the moment in a tweet as he revealed Nebula "took a trip to earth and tore it off his body because she was feeling so Christmasy." Although it's unclear just how serious the director was being in this explanation.

The director offered several responses to one fan who believed there is "no way she stole his arm," calling it "pure forced inclusion:"

"Bucky defeats Nebula. There’s no way she stole his arm. Has no sense. Like the whole phase 4, pure forced inclusion of shit."

The Guardians director defended his explanation of Nebula stealing Bucky's arm and called it the "canon" now:

"I’m not sure how a cyborg with advanced alien technology tearing off a human’s arm because of an overabundance of Christmas Spirit is forced inclusion, but now it’s canon sorry."

The newly-appointed DC Studios CEO added how "Nebula thinks of Bucky as wet crepe paper," and hit back at the user for his claim that the scene was intended to push inclusion. 

"I’m so sorry, but it already happened. Nebula thinks of Bucky as wet crepe paper. That said, she couldn’t help tearing off the arm because she was just feeling so freaking Christmasy! PS No one forced me to include alien cyborgs."

Will Sebastian Stan Need A New Arm in Thunderbolts?

So, James Gunn has now confirmed Nebula was somehow able to steal Bucky's prosthetic arm straight from his body. This may leave some wondering what that could mean for the Winter Soldier's next MCU role - which will come with July 2024's Thunderbolts - and the short answer is probably not much.

Since this was only intended as an off-handed joke from Gunn in his Disney+ Holiday Special, the Thunderbolts team likely won't be factoring it into their writing process. Fans can just assume that in the time between his MCU appearances, Bucky lost his arm to Nebula and got a replacement from Wakanda.

But who knows? Maybe fans will find Sebastian Stan's disgruntled Winter Soldier furious over the loss of his metallic companion, prompting Val to offer him a replacement in exchange for his compliance with her new super team.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.