Captain America has just revealed he shares a rather sweet connection with his long-time best friend and crime fighting partner, Bucky Barnes. As it turns out, both have an appreciation for J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings books.
It’s no secret that Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a massive hit, elevating the already popular characters of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes to new heights. In scene after scene, audiences watch the two characters repeatedly butt heads and begrudgingly learn to work together, including one scene where Wilson references the “Big Three.” The concept of the “Big Three,” as posited by Wilson, is that all bad guys they fight are either aliens, androids, or wizards. Barnes, however, is not impressed, “So, who are you fighting now—Gandalf?” and explaining that he read The Hobbit when it first came out in 1937.
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In The Marvels #1, by Kurt Busiek and Yildiray Cinar, readers are introduced to a world in the midst of another war, and Captain America diving in—or, rather jumping out of a plane—headfirst into the closed country of Siancong. Before he jumps, though, he hands a copy of the book he is reading and asking that someone “save [his] place” in the book. The book in question? Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Another panel showing Steve Rogers and Carol Danvers enjoying a meal out in Prospect Park indicates the quaint scene occurs just ten days before Captain America’s skydive into enemy territory. The two eat their sandwiches under the eye of gawking tourists. Next to Rogers, on the picnic table, is a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring.
While Captain America was previously seen enjoying Tolkien’s work in 1967’s Avengers #46, the little Easter egg is a nice reminder and begs the question as to who is the Tolkien fan. Did formerly small, artsy Steve Rogers find interest in Middle Earth, or was the more stereotypically macho Bucky the first one to pick up The Hobbit and recommend it to his friend? Either way, it appears both are Tolkien fans, with Bucky remembering the characters’ names years later and Steve seemingly reading the entire series in between superhero fights in less than two weeks.
The wink and a nod to both Bucky’s past and, likely, Steve’s long list of pop culture to catch up on, is a great addition to the comic. What started as an amusing throw-away line in Disney+’s new hit series has been delightfully married to comic artists sneaking in the sly reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s most popular works and setting up a charming connection between lifelong friends Captain America and Bucky Barnes and their reading habits. After all, are you even really friends if you don’t try to force book recommendations on each other?
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