(To be clear, I’ve seen some of them but not The Winter Soldier.)
Avengers/Captain America. This fandom is a joy and an education, in a variety of ways.
Things I’ve been reading, and which you should read too if you want to have a lot of feelings about trauma in a story that also feels like a hug:
The Steve Rogers’ American Captain webcomic
Different Kinds of Conversations by telm_393
Coming Up by hobbitdragon
A Face Built for Gettin’ Punched by bomberqueen17
Because of How I Feel About You by snapjack
This, You Protect by owlet
I sort of talked about the happy, soothes-my-soul parts already, so now I want to talk about the “well, this is edifying” parts. In a disconnected, not-a-proper-review way.
It is fascinating how very differently different people interpret Bucky, and how they portray him. Like, in the things I’ve mentioned, we have a Bucky who’s disconcertingly able to act exactly the way he used to, who’s very compartmentalized to the point that I’m wondering if the author is going to make him multi, and also a Bucky who’s mostly nonverbal.
Hobbitdragon’s actual-educated-therapist point of view sometimes weirds me out a bit (and so do other people doing similar things, but I can’t find links right now). It is of course difficult to portray things that aren’t explicit conscious thoughts when your medium is words that have to be explicit. But sometimes I get the feeling that big chunks of what Bucky is doing come from textbook descriptions of symptoms, or, like, the kind of things a therapist who interviewed him would write in their notes, and I just don’t like that. I don’t want to have that kind of distance from a character. I’m not sure exactly what makes the difference for me, but “I imagine this character feels the way I’ve felt” is fine, and “I imagine this character feels the way I’ve read about in my studies” really grates on me. It’s still sympathy/empathy/whatever for the character! It’s still trying to understand their pain! But I don’t like it. I feel like it assumes superiority, and a kind of distance, and I just don’t like it. The goal should be to give meaning, to put how the character is feeling into a framework that explains it, but also/still show what it feels like from the inside, a part of which is not understanding it. Writing them as if they understand too much of the wrong things, especially without showing how they got the understanding they have, is just jarring.
Re: Bomberqueen’s Bucky, there’s one thing that really struck me. There are a couple of scenes where he’s in Stark Tower and assuming that he’s going to be treated the way he was by HYDRA (y’know, being traumatized)– expecting to be shot by tranquilizer guns, or have armed guards rush in at any moment. And (I think this happens several times) he has the conscious thought “If I seem agitated, they’ll want to restrain me. I have to act meek and sumbissive even if I can’t act normal.” Like. That’s a thought he has to consciously go through. Violence is a reflex for him– not only the usual way where if anyone touches him unexpectedly he’s likely to pin them to the ground, but also, he used to fight and try to escape from his guards/handlers even when he had no conscious memory of any reason to do so. But “try not to look aggressive so they’ll leave me alone” is still a conscious thought, not a habit. That’s a thing that could easily be the other way around. It tells you something about this Bucky, that he fights even when he very literally doesn’t know what he’s fighting for, but to lower his eyes and try to look harmless, he has to think about it.