FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT STEVE TRIED TO TRIGGER BUCKY’S MEMORIES BY WEARING HIS LESS DURABLE RETRO!UNIFORM (aka the not-so-bulletproof outfit he wore the last time Bucky saw him) AND BY QUOTING SOMETHING BUCKY SAID TO HIM 70-SOMETHING YEARS AGO
Okay okay but can we just talk about this? The entire movie Steve’s worth is defined by what Captain America has become. He goes to the Smithsonian to see Captain America’s life projected back at him — the boy he was before a footnote, the sickly waif who wasn’t good enough until the army (literally) made him A Man — while he’s there he walks around unrecognized; the entire gag at the mall is based on the idea that this is a 6’2” hulking muscled mass of a guy who absolutely no one recognizes unless he has that star on his chest, because it’s the suit, not the person, who’s been given worth. And when Steve thinks about the most memorable thing about himself — when he thinks about how to get Bucky back — he goes for that. He goes for Captain America. And it doesn’t work; Bucky doesn’t react at all. Because Bucky always saw through that. He didn’t give a shit about Captain America. That “little guy from Brooklyn,” that’s the kid he loved, that’s the one he was following when he died, the one who’s scared voice knocked the memories out of him earlier in the movie. And it’s only when Steve drops the shield, and the helmet — all of the things that make him Captain America, that make him immediately recognizable to the rest of the country, to the world — when he calls on this one, rogue memory from when they were just kids, from before he was the national ideal of manhood he’s been made out to be since his death… That’s when Bucky sees him. Because Bucky doesn’t remember, or care about Captain America: Captain America is just a target. But Steve Rogers, that little kid from Brooklyn? Is under him, and dying, and scared…and the impulse to protect is so much stronger than anything else that’s been done to Bucky since then.
Always help someone. You might be the only one that does.