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“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” star Anthony Mackie has weighed in on fans suggesting that the Marvel show’s titular characters, Sam Wilson (played by Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan), have romantic feelings for each other.
“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There’s so many things that people latch on to with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational,” Mackie, who’s portrayed Sam in the MCU since 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” told Variety in a new interview.
Mackie’s comment came after he was asked to weigh in on exploring a platonic male friendship within the superhero genre, and what he thinks of fans rooting for Sam and Bucky as a couple.
Speculation about the dynamic between Sam and Bucky was fueled by moments from season one of “TFATWS,” which concluded in March. The show centered on the two formerly-antagonistic characters working together as partners to take down a threatening group known as the Flag Smashers, in light of Steve Rogers/Captain America’s (Chris Evans) absence.
One scene from the series involved the two characters rolling onto a field in Europe after being attacked by the Flag Smashers. Another showed them being forced to sit close together, interlock their legs, and take part in a soul-gazing exercise as part of an impromptu therapy session.
Viewers interpreted these scenes as having sexual tension or hinting at romantic feelings between the two characters.
“The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality,” Mackie said. “It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool.”
He continued: “You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves.”
Mackie said that “showing a sensitive masculine figure” has always been important to him.
“There’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up,” he said. “But there’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.”
The actor also said that Sam and Bucky’s relationship is rooted in acceptance, appreciation, and love for each other.
“You’d call it a bromance, but it’s literally just two guys who have each other’s backs,” he said.
A representative for Mackie didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A comment from Bucky about dating apps during episode one of “TFATWS” alluded to him being bisexual, to which head writer Malcolm Spellman told NME: “I’m not diving down rabbit holes, but just keep watching…”
Then, in a post-finale interview, director Kari Skogland told Variety that Bucky’s remark had nothing to do with his sexuality. Instead, it was meant to highlight Bucky’s confusion over technology due to his age.