Ever since Marvel Studios announced the title Captain America: The Winter Soldier comics fans have wondered if they could tell their non-comics friends why they're excited for this story to be told. None of the trailers so far have really answered the question - ie, none have explained who The Winter Soldier is. So I went right to the source: Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed the film.
Talking to them for the next issue of BIRTH. MOVIES. DEATH I asked them if they considered this reveal a spoiler. After all, when The Winter Soldier appeared in comics his true identity was the main selling point, and fans were having arguments about this character months before publication of his first issue. Said Anthony Russo:
Even though there’s an ensemble cast the story is very grounded in Captain America, and is told through his perspective very specifically. For the character it’s a discovery, even if it isn’t for the audience.
Which means, no, it isn't a spoiler. I'm interested in seeing how this is handled in the movie itself; the gap between our knowledge and Cap's knowledge could be played for tension, or it could become irritating if we think Cap is five steps behind us. I've heard nothing but hugely positive things about the film, though, so I suspect it's handled quite well.
Good thing that most of you already knew The Winter Soldier is actually Bucky Barnes, Cap's old partner long-thought dead, returned as a Russian killing machine. And now you can tell your non-nerdy friends all about it.