Since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's release back in March, fans have debated the nature of Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson's relationship. After an interview with Variety on June 17, star Anthony Mackie's quotes about the duo had fans divided across the internet.
"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," he told the outlet. "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." The biggest issue seemed to be how Mackie worded his statement, with some fans calling it homophobic and others feeling it was just a poorly worded take on toxic masculinity.
Mackie's comments also touched on the relationship between Steve Rogers and Bucky. "There's nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love. Sam and Steve had a relationship where they admired, appreciated and loved each other," the actor said. "Bucky and Sam have a relationship where they learn how to accept, appreciate, and love each other. You'd call it a bromance, but it's literally just two guys who have each other's backs."
"People are reaching and calling a Black man homophobic just for wanting to see more representation of intimate friendship featuring Black males in the media," @queenkdb23 wrote in his defense on Twitter. Another Twitter user alleged that the writer behind the Variety interview has a history of targeting Black men to be the focus of Twitter mobs. "Anthony 100% could have worded his words better, but I don't trust anything this man reports on to even trust how he reported on Anthony's words," @TheFirstOkiro tweeted. "Not when this man has a habit of throwing Black men under the bus." @ZREllor also highlighted in a Twitter thread how "it's Mackie, not his white costars, being put in this awkward position. And it's understandable for a Black man to feel more conflicted about being sexually objectified than a white person might."
This isn't the first time fans have shipped Bucky with a friend (remember Stucky?) and it certainly won't be the last. When it comes to shipping, not every fan ships in the same way, and some tend to blur the lines between an actor and the character they are portraying. While Mackie's statement makes it clear he isn't a Sam and Bucky shipper, it doesn't mean fans have to stop shipping. That's what headcanon is for.