Why Removing Bucky’s Arm Stops Him From Fighting | Screen Rant
Bucky was stunned when Ayo disconnected his metal arm when they fought but beyond his surprise, there are deeper reasons why Bucky stopped fighting.
Warning: SPOILERS for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Episode 4, "The Whole World Is Watching."
In The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 4, Ayo (Florence Kasumba) of the Wakandan Dora Milaje used a failsafe to disconnect Bucky Barnes' (Sebastian Stan) cybernetic left arm, which instantly stopped him from fighting. The Vibranium arm was a gift to Barnes from King T'Challa (Sebastian Stan) after Shuri (Letitia Wright) removed Hydra's programming from Bucky's mind. But there's more to why removing Bucky's arm instantly ended his will to fight beyond sheer surprise.
For decades, Sgt. James Buchanan Barnes was the Winter Soldier, Hydra's top assassin. Bucky was captured by Hydra in 1945, received experimentation with a variant of the Super-Soldier Serum, was brainwashed, and was implanted with a metal arm made of titanium to replace the left arm that was amputated when he fell from a train and plummeted nearly to his death. The Winter Soldier's mind was wiped after each mission to keep him compliant and he was placed in cryo-stasis, which helped keep him youthful. For all of those horrible years, the man who was Bucky Barnes was gone, replaced with a programmed killing machine. After his best friend Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) fought to make Bucky realize who he really is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Bucky spent the next few years trying to recapture his memories and his lost humanity.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode 4, "The Whole World Is Watching", revealed how Ayo was the person who tested whether Shuri's fixing of Bucky's Hydra programming was successful. After Bucky was cured in Wakanda, he lived peacefully in the country as a farmer, where locals knew Bucky as "The White Wolf". Barnes enjoyed the calm of the African kingdom as he began the process of piecing himself back together free of the Winter Soldier - although the memories of every murder he committed remained a part of him. Crucially, Bucky lived as the White Wolf with only one arm. He didn't receive his Vibranium arm for many months, and then only because King T'Challa knew the Avengers were on their way and Wakanda would be the battleground against the Children of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War.
Bucky's Vibranium arm is just one of his superpowers but it's also essentially what defines the Winter Soldier. He's been proven to be more peaceful without it but, because Barnes didn't know Shuri built a failsafe that removes his arm, he didn't know he could remove it from himself. Without his left arm, Bucky is not the assassin he used to be. It's fascinating that, when Ayo ejected Bucky's arm, it didn't just shock Barnes, it sapped his will to fight entirely. For Bucky, his cyborg prosthesis is both a curse and a crutch.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier began with Bucky returned to relatively normal life in the 21st century. He was pardoned for his crimes and a free man, but he was still mandated to attend therapy to face the sins of his past. Bucky's repentance for all of the murders he committed as the Winter Soldier is the key to who he is today, and his cybernetic left arm is the literal symbol of the robotic assassin he was once that he can't fully escape. It's ironic that as the Winter Soldier, Bucky's identity and purpose was clear. But just being Bucky Barnes trying to function in modern society finds him feeling lost and unsure of himself. Earlier in the series, Barnes told a former-Hydra-agent-now-senator who he turned over to the authorities that "I am no longer the Winter Soldier", but the real question he has to answer in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is, "Who is Bucky Barnes?"
Next: Why It Took Marvel 10 Years To Make Bucky An Avenger In The MCU