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Marvel just turned the Winter Soldier into a kaiju, and I’m loving it

Bucky Barnes just went through a big change.

Thunderbolts #3 cover cropped
Image credit: Marvel

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Bucky Barnes has had a colorful life. He’s been a kid sidekick, a covert assassin, Captain America, leader of a secret organization, and now he can add kaiju to that list. Yes, the Winter Soldier goes full kaiju in the pages of Thunderbolts #3 (written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, penciled by Geraldo Borges, cover by Rachel and Terry Dodson).

Before anyone tells me I’m using the term incorrectly, a quick internet search confirms that humans can be considered kaijus if they have undergone a strange transformation and/or grown in size. This appears to apply to Bucky. And honestly, I kind of love calling Bucky a kaiju. It’s the kind of fun and escapism we need in our modern comics.

So, how did our Winter Soldier grow larger than a skyscraper? Read on…

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Thunderbolts #3!

Magic wand, make my Bucky grow!

Bucky becomes a giant
Image credit: Marvel

Why on Earth would Bucky need to transform into a kaiju? To fight another kaiju, of course.

Bucky and Shang-Chi had to journey to Hong Kong to stop U.S. Agent and his partner agent Todd Ziller from attacking a Latverian stronghold. The two agents believed they were acting on U.S. government orders, but Red Skull had infiltrated their communication pipeline, and ordered the attack for his own purposes.

The problem is, Red Skull didn’t want Shang-Chi and Bucky to stop their attack. So, he activated his contingency plan. This is a good time to tell you that Todd Ziller has the power to turn into a Godzilla-like creature known as American Kaiju (the name Todd Ziller should’ve been a clue). Red Skull activated a failsafe, which turned Todd into a monster. This is a good time to remind you that they were in the heart of Hong Kong. This is also a good time to mention that Ziller isn’t always in control of his actions when he’s American Kaiju.

So yeah, this was pretty bad news.

Well, it would’ve been if Shang-Chi hadn’t brought a mystical artifact with him. Shang handed Bucky a bracelet known as the Ring of Kaufu, which gives the user a “single-use power.” In this case, that power was turning into a giant. And thus, seconds after donning the Ring of Kaufu, Bucky grows larger than a skyscraper.

Kaiju-Bucky fights American Kaiju for a few pages before knocking him out, which seems to return Ziller to human form. Bucky also returns to regular size, which is a shame. I would’ve read an entire series of graphic novels on Kaiju-Bucky. I know Shang-Chi said the Ring of Kaufu only works once, but I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kaiju-Bucky.

Embracing the awesome

Bucky vs. American Kaiju
Image credit: Marvel

I loved everything about this. There is something about seeing kaijus fight in the heart of a city that ignites my inner child. This is what happens when you grow up watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and old Godzilla movies. Whenever I see giant monsters knocking over buildings, I always wonder about the people inside. Was Bucky being careful when he threw American Kaiju into those buildings?

We’re told that Shang-Chi’s Five Weapons Society helped evacuate the city, but let’s be real, Hong Kong has a huge population. I’m sure Bucky crushed a few people. Maybe Hank Pym gave him advice on how to minimize casualties when you’re a giant.

Still, imagine looking out your window, and seeing a giant Sebastian Stan. If one of his teeth got knocked out during the battle, would it be larger than a car? These are the things I think about.

Marvel has no shortage of giant heroes, like Bill Foster and Cassie Lang, but something about this just rings different. Maybe it’s because Bucky isn’t known for being a giant. Maybe there is just something about the sight of a giant hero and a giant villain fighting in a city backdrop. Whatever it is, I loved this, and I want more of it.

I know that the Thunderbolts movie will begin shooting soon. Kevin Feige, please consider including this scene. Maybe it’s not too late. It might be cheesy and look ridiculous, but it will also be fun. Nobody is expecting Thunderbolts to be Citizen Kane, so let Bucky turn into a Kaiju. Think about how cool it would be to see that on the big screen. It sure looked cool on the comic page.

An advanced review copy of Thunderbolts #3 was provided ahead of release by Marvel.

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.