[SPOILERS for Ant-Man ahead.]
Ever since 2008's Iron Man, Marvel Studios has been working to expand its cinematic universe. With the primary members of the Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes, already established, Marvel now has the opportunity to bring new characters into the spotlight and create all new dynamics and conflicts between the heroes. While the Avengers have argued in Joss Whedon's The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, their conflict is going to (presumably) be taken to a whole new level in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Inspired by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Marvel Comics story, the upcoming movie will see Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) at odds, over a policy that would give the U.S. government more information and control over the Avengers. As heroes choose to stand behind Stark or Rogers - or just do their best to avoid the conflict - the fact this movie follows Captain America: The Winter Soldier leaves fans with one question: how significant of a role will James "Bucky" Buchanan Barnes, a.k.a. Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), play in the story?
Bucky was a free man and finally learning about who he truly is at the end of Winter Soldier, but Marvel's latest movie, Ant-Man, provides fans with an update on the character's status. When the credits come to an end in Peyton Reed's film, a scene reveals Bucky has been kidnapped. His artificial arm is stuck in what appears to be a huge vise, and he's very worn down - giving the impression he's been held there for quite some time. Meanwhile, Steve and Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie), have located Bucky and intend to help him, with Falcon indicating he'll call Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) for help.
So, why is Bucky locked away? Bucky himself, Sebastian Stan, told Buzzfeed that there's much more to the scene than meets
Nick Fury's the eye:
“I think [what Bucky was caught in was] more of a vise. But it would never happen at his own hand, by his own doing.
“In terms of that scene in Ant-Man, I’ve seen some of the ideas people have about it and I would just say that whatever you’re seeing on the surface, it’s not as obvious as that. There might be a whole lot more to the scene. I would say someone would probably want to put him in a vise.”
Stan appears to suggest that Bucky did not trap himself, lest someone would think Bucky is punishing himself over a guilty conscience(?), perhaps. That raises the question, who incapacitated Bucky?
Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and Brock Rumlow, a.k.a. Crossbones (Frank Grillo), are villains in Civil War, so it wouldn't be far-fetched if they were to hunt down the ex-HYDRA assassin and attempt to brainwash him all over again. As for Lang's appearance being teased, it seems like Falcon may call upon him to help free Bucky from the massive vise (giving his shrinking abilities allow him to overcome any technology that stands in his way); not to mention, the implication in the Ant-Man post-credits scene is that Scott isn't yet caught up in the 'Civil War' between superheroes.
No matter who captured Bucky, it would appear that Steve's former best friend will play a noteworthy role in Anthony and Joe Russo's Civil War. Considering the amount of buildup Bucky received in Winter Soldier (and the fact his return is saved for an Ant-Man credits scene), Rogers and Stark could well find themselves at opposite ends on the issue of whether Bucky should pay for the crimes he committed while being brainwashed by HYDRA. Just another reason for Iron Man and Captain America to fight one another in the film, it would seem...
Ant-Man is now playing in theaters; Captain America: Civil War opens May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot on July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok on November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 on May 4, 2018; Black Panther on July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel on November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 on May 3, 2019; and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.