Anthony Mackie Dismisses Fan Theories of Gay 'Falcon and Winter Soldier' — and Fans Push Back

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 18, 2021

Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie  (Source:Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Anthony Mackie, who portrays Sam, the "Falcon" half of the odd couple that is "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," expressed exasperation with fans who speculate that the two characters are romantically involved, The AV Club reported.

Fans speculating whether Sam and "Winter Soldier" Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) were an item in the series were not convinced by Kari Skogland — the director of all six of the series' episodes — having stated that the two are just friends, and they were no more persuaded by Mackie. Indeed, fans pushed back in their turn.

Mackie voiced his annoyance with the fan theory in an interview with Variety. In it, the publication noted that the series included "several scenes of emotional and physical familiarity between Sam and Bucky that some fans interpreted as a budding romance — similar to how some Marvel fans desired Bucky and the first Captain America, Chris Evans' Steve Rogers, to be a couple."

Mackie has played a gay character before, sort of, in an episode of "Black Mirror" in which his character, a straight man, takes on a female identity in futuristic video games. In the episode, titled "Striking Vipers," the virtual gender switch leads to online hookups with his male best friend (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Mackie made mention of that role in his conversation with Variety, perhaps to underscore he was not coming from a homophobic place.

Indeed, Mackie spoke to Variety of "something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality" being "exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves."

Still, he insisted, Sam and Bucky are just good friends.

"It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool," Mackie said. "The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality."

He continued: "There's nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up. But there's nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love."

"Bucky and Sam have a relationship where they learn how to accept, appreciate and love each other," Mackey mused. "You'd call it a bromance, but it's literally just two guys who have each other's backs."

As Decider pointed out, some fans weren't having it, and later took to social media to tear "into [Mackie's] rejection of the beloved 'ship' between Bucky and Sam.

See the tweets below:

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.