Seeing Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes finally come together in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was a watershed moment. That budding friendship came courtesy of Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Their chemistry and dynamic made fans believe in their bond, though maybe a little too well for some fans, as they started shipping the Marvel characters. This led to the Captain America 4 star sharing his blunt thoughts about Marvel fans shipping Sam and Bucky.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier left Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in a better place than where Avengers: Endgame left their relationship. Some fans appeared to confuse friendship for a romantic relationship. But Anthony Mackie isn’t here for male friendships being tainted. The actor said this about Marvel fans shipping the pair:
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. The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality. It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool. You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. 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.
Anthony Mackie was correct in viewers turning a genuine male friendship into something more salacious. Given how Sam and Bucky started the Disney+ series, that idea seemed further from true. While shipping characters can be innocent, some shipping can become toxic and unnecessary. Even at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam and Bucky were still figuring out their new friendship. The actor dealt with a similar issue while starring in Netflix's Altered Carbon. So no Sam and Bucky shenanigans are going on, according to Mackie.
But his disdain for fan shipping doesn’t mean the MCU star isn’t for more sensitive and emotional moments between male superheroes. While speaking with Variety's Award Circuit podcast, Anthony Mackie revealed he is pushing for more sensitive Marvel heroes. The actor said about his approach in the MCU:
So, something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. 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.
As the actor pointed out, there’s nothing wrong with tough male figures having a sensitive side when it comes to friendships. But that doesn’t mean a budding romance is forming. Sam and Bucky are friends and nothing more. I commend Anthony Mackie for pushing to make Marvel superheroes more relatable to fans.
Fan shipping may or may not have messed up Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan joining forces again in the MCU. But with the current development of Captain America 4 being secret, only Mackie and Marvel know if Sam and Bucky’s friendship will continue in the future. There's still some time to explore that friendship, as Marvel's current film slate suggests.