Anthony Mackie is facing a bit of backlash from fans of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier over some recent remarks about his character Sam Wilson's relationship with co-star Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes. A number of viewers took to social media to point out the romantic tension between the two characters during the show's run. This also led to accusations of "queerbaiting," which Dictionary.com defines as "the practice of implying non-heterosexual relationships or attraction (in a TV show, for example) to engage or attract an LGBTQ audience or otherwise generate interest without ever actually depicting such relationships or sexual interactions."
Movieweb reports Mackie recently weighed in on the topic, though his words seem to have caused more frustration among fans than they have helped. "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 said. "The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality."
The Marvel actor went on to say, "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."
In addition to his comments about the friendship between Sam and Bucky (played by Sebastian Stan), Wilson also made some eye-raising comments about "masculinity" in comic book movies. "So something that's always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure," he said. "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."
Fans of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier have been taking to social media to express their feelings on Mackie's comments, and many of them are not happy. "Please stop asking about gay shipping in 2021," one person tweeted. "I would prefer to be blithely unaware that Anthony Mackie is so uncomfortable with queer readings of his character that he thinks he can't hang out at a bar with his dude friends."
Another Twitter user added, "I get the point Anthony Mackie was trying to make, but he definitely should've worded it better. It's totally not wrong for gay people to wish to see representation on the big screen in the world's biggest franchise. Also [I don't know] why he compared being a Superhero to being masculine." At this time, Mackie nor Stan have not appeared to have addressed the backlash at this time.