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In Winter Soldier we see him going toe to toe with multiple Avenger-level people including Black Widow, Falcon, and Captain America himself. Obviously we can attribute this to his training and status still being within HYDRA. In Civil War, the 1st half shows he still has incredible combat prowess and superhuman speed -- in the apartment scene where they face off against German counterterrorism units he is shown to be crafty and able to take on multiple combatants, and this is when he is no longer being controlled by HYDRA. But in the 2nd half of Civil War, he suddenly appears weak -- he gets somehow overpowered by Spiderman, takes ages to run to the hangar with Captain America (did the movie forget how fast they were moving through the highway during the previously mentioned scene?). In the final fight with Tony he's had to almost rely on Cap for all the fights and appears extremely weak. And in almost every subsequent movie including Infinity War and Endgame, he's been reduced to using a gun and just being really toned down, or "nerfed".

In the most recent TV series, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he appears even weaker, taking on sub-combat roles and never taking charge once or showing that same battle prowess he had in Winter Soldier and the start of Civil War. In fact, the only time it ever seems like he regains those fighting skills is when he's pretending to be the Winter Soldier for Zemo and Falcon to maintain appearances.

Is there a canonical reason as to why Bucky got "nerfed" throughout the MCU? I've been a huge fan of Bucky's character throughout the MCU so it's been incredibly noticeable how much weaker he's gotten in each subsequent film from Winter Soldier.

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    All of the plain human characters are weak when you compare them to the super hero cast...this is mostly a scaling issue. An ant is strong when compared to other ants...Bucky fighting Cap is mostly an issue of psychological terror. Cap is forced to fight his best friend, he‘s not using is full ability to kill or defeat him. – morbo Apr 17 at 8:05
  • @Morbo Bucky/Winter Soldier has been enhanced by Hydra using some kind of serum - he's not "plain human". – HorusKol Apr 17 at 14:58
  • @HorusKol you're right. He is not plain human according to wiki, but he isn't super human either. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bucky_(Marvel_Comics) – morbo Apr 17 at 14:59
  • @Morbo MCU Bucky is different to Comics Bucky - en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – HorusKol Apr 17 at 15:12
  • @HorusKol it appears he's even weaker in the MCU univerise...being solely cybernetically enhanced and simply frozen over and over again according to your link, I will give the movies the benefit of the doubt, they used something akin to the infinite serum...Again, regardless of which universe, it appears Bucky was never super human, similar or beyond. – morbo Apr 17 at 15:16
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Bucky at the start of the Civil War is suffering amnesia. After he recovers from Zemo triggering the Winter Soldier persona, he starts to listen to Steve and begins to remember.

During the airport fight, Steve is trying to avoid having Bucky directly involved in the fight to protect him.

By the time of the Infinity War and the Falcon & Winter Soldier, Bucky is recovering from his programming and also from prolonged PTSD. He is trying to hold himself back from "letting go" and letting the Winter Soldier out, not even a little bit. Plus, in Infinity War, he's not one of the core Avengers, so we just don't see him in action all that much.

Mind you - in episode 5 of the series, Bucky ends up squaring off with another supersoldier and eventually wins (with a bit of help from Sam), so I disagree that he's been nerfed.

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  • A great supporting quote for trying to hold himself back from "letting go" would be the conversation he has in Episode 5 with Sam regarding his nightmares (hopefully that's being vague enough to avoid spoilers) – DariM Apr 21 at 21:52
  • Also in ep6 it's clear he's not been nerfed, he holds his own very well. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 24 at 12:02

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