Bucky fell from the train during the first week of May, 1945. Less than a day later, Steve crashed into the ocean off the coast of Greenland and slept for 66 years. He wasn’t aware of that time as it was passing. He wasn’t growing as a person. He was 26 years old when he crashed, and when he woke up, he was still 26 years old and his best friend had just died. Do you think when he found out that it was 2011 that he went, “Oh, Bucky’s been gone for almost 70 years, now, I’m over it,” or do you think that wound was still fresh?
The Battle of New York happened during the first week of May, 2011. Steve had been awake for about ten days. Do you think he went into that fight feeling like he had 93 years worth of life experience? Or do you think he went into it feeling like the war had never ended, he was 26 years old, and he’d watched his best friend fall to his death just ten days before?
I’ve read a good number of stories where Steve has a startling amount of distance when it comes to Bucky’s death because, “it was so long ago.” That rings false to me. We have distance. The other characters have distance. Steve hasn’t had enough time to develop distance.
I’ve also heard people ask, “How could Steve recognize Bucky so easily? He hadn’t seen him in 70 years!”
Well, because to Steve, he hadn’t seen Bucky in three years. Sure, he knows that chronologically it’s been 70 years, but for him it’s still only been three.
I don’t know why so many people seem to think of Steve as having the mind and experiences of a man in his 90s. Maybe because it’s fun to play with the idea the he’s an old man or a fossil or somebody Tony Stark can call, “Gramps.” Those are fun ideas to play with, I’ll grant you, but unless you can convince me that Steve was totally conscious and aware for all the years he was under the ice, I just don’t buy it.