The design of Bucky’s muzzle in the film is so aesthetically/symbolically pleasing because of how much it tells you. I mean, there’s posts and posts going around about how expressive The Winter Soldier managed to be while having like 6-7 lines totaly, but it’s also what he doesn’t say and what he can’t say that’s telling.
What seemed so startling to me was that the mask wasn’t cloth or leather or something that is easily taken off, but hard and confining and tight on his face. Bucky isn’t supposed talk. He’s supposed to carry out his orders like good little attack dog that he is.
The mask- or muzzle- keeps him tight on a leash and anonymous. He’s not supposed to say much, because he’s not supposed to be there. He’s the ghost story, he doesn’t have a voice he has a legacy and a trigger finger.
The rest of his face is uncovered (Unless you count the war paint, but you can still see everything there), because none of that’s a threat to the people who own Bucky. They don’t care about his looks and they don’t care about how safehe is, they just don’t want him to have a voice (consent) or to spill their heinous secrets. They want to keep him tight to them and dependent.
I mean, there’s a reason he was okay with taking the goggles off on the bridge, but didn’t even think to touch the mask. Didn’t take it off. It was Steve who took it off.
Which. It was Steve who gave him a voice again. Steve removes Bucky’s mask and we have a face to point to the figure, we have more than just a shadow and a ghost, but a person, something that can show the audience and the world his autonomy. We see his emotions more clearly when his mouth is open in slack-jawed confusion, when his jaw is set and furious in the bank.
The first thing he learns after his mask is removed is his name. Bucky has a name, and the next thing he says is asking about Steve.
Steve removes Bucky’s muzzle- removes some of his shackles and restraints- and we already see a man- albeit a shell of one- rather than the vicious brutal attack dog that Hydra molded and forged from Russian winters and blood.