To say that Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes didn’t start off on the best foot is an understatement. The two first met when the latter was trying to kill the former in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. By the end of that movie, Bucky had gone into hiding. Sam decided to stand by his new friend, Steve Rogers/Captain America’s side and track down his best friend. After two years, the three were finally reunited and the two best friends of Steve Rogers were now in his life.
We saw in Captain America: The First Avenger, that Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes were best friends and more like brothers. Both growing up poor in Brooklyn and Bucky being there for Steve whenever he got into it with bullies. Eventually World War 2 tore them apart from one another with Steve unable to go due to his physical limitations. The war brought them back together with Steve being transformed into Captain America and their bond continued with some power shifts but still strong. Eventually Bucky fell to his “death” and Steve was frozen only to awaken decades later.
After the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers was a man out of time and without a purpose. He was willing to die for his mission in World War 2 and immediately being thrust into being a superhero and also a government enforcer. Needless to say, other than combat he had nothing else going for him. Enter: Sam Wilson. A counselor at the local VA who helped soldiers with PTSD and other psychological ailments. is clear that Steve suffers from issues. This is outright said in Avengers: Age of Ultron by Ultron and Steve’s “nightmare” where he struggles with being a soldier without something to fight.So when Steve Rogers has no one to turn to in The Winter Soldier, he turns to a complete stranger and their bond is immediate. How often can you say that you would jump from a flying aircraft with no parachute with only a slight chance that your new friend will catch you.
The big issue here is when the two encounter Bucky Barnes who is the eponymous Winter Soldier. Bucky was captured by HYDRA and experimented on. Now with a bionic arm and mind wiped, Bucky is no longer the same man. Just an efficient killing machine who is frozen when he is not needed. That all changes when he meets Steve again and his memories slowly start to come back to him. Culminating in him saving his old friend’s life before disappearing once again to sort of his memories.
Sam Wilson briefly appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron where it’s established that they have been looking for Bucky for over a year. Also that he is aware how Steve continues to duck and doge having a normal life. By the end of that movie, the two are part of the new Avengers team and that continues in Ant-Man. Finally culminating in Captain America: Civil War where the three lives are connected once again.
It’s never given too much attention to but it’s clear that Sam Wilson as The Falcon is Cap’s guy. They have their own set of team up moves together. When Peggy Carter finally dies, Sam is there with Steve at the funeral. When Steve is about to go on the run, Sam wants to know why because he is going to go on the run with him. The bond between the two is established and one of the most natural feeling of the MCU. So when they finally do corner Bucky, it is Sam and Steve. Steve always there to be more cautious around Bucky because he knows what he can do and Steve has a certain blindspot for his old friend.
They aren’t given much screen time together but the two best friends of Steve Rogers quickly have their own bond. Bucky is mostly quiet and aloof with the members of “Team Cap” but not with Sam. They bicker in the car with one another about the seating arrangement. They both silently tease/cheer Sam on after he kisses Sharon Carter. In the airport battle, they are the two paired up with one another. In fact they are the first heroes to encounter new superhero Spider-Man and while both would probably lose against the web slinger one on one, they are able to hold their own against him for longer than you would think. In fact, Bucky takes a hit from Spider-Man to protect Sam.
By the end of that movie, both men are fugitives. Bucky is in fact frozen once again until he can get the last traces of the Winter Soldier programming out of his system. Smart guess would say that there next appearance will be Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 (working title). Since both those movies will be directed by The Russo Brothers, it’s fiar to say we have not seen the last of Cap’s two best friends working together. Hopefully their bond will continue and they will lose the “vitriolic” part of “vitriolic best buds”.