Rocket Raccoon could have got Bucky’s arm long before The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, as Avengers: Infinity War should have allowed him to get the vibranium arm with ease. One of Rocket’s recurring jokes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is his interest in acquiring other people’s body parts that are made of metal or technology. This led to a memorable exchange in Avengers: Infinity War when Rocket met Bucky Barnes and asked him how much it would cost to buy his vibranium arm. Even though Bucky told him the arm was not for sale, Rocket remained confident that he would eventually get it.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special delivered a surprising payoff to this joke when Nebula gave Rocket Bucky’s arm for Christmas. The moment raised plenty of questions about how Nebula managed to steal Bucky’s arm and what Rocket will do with it. While it took Marvel Studios several years to make good on the tease that Rocket would get Bucky’s arm, there was a much easier path to the same outcome. In fact, if one debated aspect of Thanos’ snap went differently, Rocket should have gotten Bucky’s arm in Avengers: Infinity War ending.
Why Bucky’s Arm Shouldn’t Have Disappeared In Infinity War
Bucky’s vibranium arm was the first thing audiences saw begin to disappear in Avengers: Infinity War after Thanos’ snap, but that decision has long been debated. The confusing element comes as a result of the gun that Bucky is caring does not disappear. While the movie does establish that superhero suits and clothing disappear with each person who was snapped, Nick Fury dropping the Captain Marvel pager also indicates that some items can be left behind. An argument could be made that Bucky’s arm disappeared because it is part of his body, but it is also important to remember that he only had this arm for a few hours.
The rules about what does and does not disappear with those snapped by Thanos are not fully known, but Bucky’s new arm is closer to a borrowed weapon (like the gun he carried) than something directly tied to him. The fact that Bucky did wear the arm is why it disappeared according to the Russo brothers (via Comicbook), as they stated anything that was part of someone’s identity would disappear when snapped. While Bucky’s metal arm is synonymous with his look, the one in Avengers: Infinity War is new and therefore not one he has a strong history with. It could have been left behind then, allowing Rocket to take Bucky’s arm.
How Nebula Got Bucky’s Arm & Gave It To Rocket
Instead of Rocket being able to take Bucky’s arm in Avengers: Infinity War, the MCU is now tasked with needing to explain how Nebula got it to use as a Christmas present in 2025. Answers could come in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 or Thunderbolts (which already confirmed Bucky has a new arm again). For now, the only explanation has come from James Gunn. He stated on Twitter that Nebula went to Earth with an abundance of Christmas spirit and ripped off Bucky’s arm to use as Rocket’s Christmas present. Whether this is the MCU canon backstory for Marvel Studios or just Gunn’s headcanon remains to be seen.