Sebastian Stan, aka Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, is trying to characterize his relationship with his on-screen partner Anthony Mackie, aka Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon: “I grew up on friend comedies like 48 Hours, Coming to America. , you know, Lethal Weapon, Turner and Hooch. All those movies that I grew up with. So for me, it was like I was making an 80s movie with Anthony Mackie. “
At this stage, Mackie laughs out loud in a separate Zoom window: “We are definitely the Turners and Hooch of the Marvel Universe. That’s the perfect description of who we are. “
To the uninitiated, in the 1989 comedy, Turner was a detective played by Tom Hanks and Hooch was a big, unruly dog. So who is the latter?
“Oh man, I have to see that movie again now,” says Stan.
“It went too far with Turner and Hooch,” acknowledges Mackie. “I’d say Starsky and Hutch.”
Old superheroes never die; they are simply recast. Or they miraculously survive the incident that supposedly killed them. Or, increasingly, they return for their own small-screen spin-off. The last two, if not the first, apply to Mackie and Stan’s double act, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. In Marvel movies, both characters were always in the shadow of Chris Evans’ Captain America – two Hooches for his Turner. Bucky Barnes made his entrance as Cap’s wartime comrade in Captain America: The First Avenger of 2011. He supposedly died in that film, only to return as The Winter Soldier, the metal-armed and brainwashed nemesis of the Captain. America in 2014. Mackie’s winged war veteran, Sam Wilson, entered history at that stage, and both characters participated in numerous Marvel campaigns (Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War) before being vaporized. at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Fortunately, they survived that too.
Now, in the absence of Evans, they are back for a six-part Disney + series that seeks to continue not just their stories but the entire Marvel machine. After having attracted the attention of the film world with the Avengers saga, Marvel is betting on doing the same on the small screen. In the immediate aftermath of the well-received WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is doubling, with a reported budget of $ 25 million per episode, almost twice as expensive as The Crown.
In the tradition of established friends, Mackie’s Falcon and Stan’s Winter Soldier are initially reluctant partners, to the extent that they cannot even agree to call each other partners. They look at “co-workers.” “They’re made of a different fabric, so to speak, and they have to find a way to coexist and work together,” says Stan, “and to some extent, that’s what Anthony and I have had to do for the last seven years. or whatever we’ve been working on together. “
Stan speaks from Vancouver. Your generic Zoom background is of a tropical beach. Mackie is at his home in New Orleans, in what looks like a sports bar. At least they have learned to laugh at each other. Stan mocks Mackie for his incessant cigar smoking on set; Mackie teases Stan about his antisocial tendencies and the fact that his Winter Soldier support arm (basically a metallic effect sleeve) is “the most disgusting thing in movie history.” Do you ever socialize together?
“We are never really in the same city,” says Stan. “I think that’s maybe a problem. Although Anthony invited me to go fishing with him. “His voice breaks into a moan:” And I know I have to do that, sometime. “
“He’s a bone of contention that won’t let me take him fishing,” admits Mackie. “I think it would be amazing if Sebastian would sit in the desert and think about everything that is happening.”
Stan: “He’ll say to me, ‘Go ahead, don’t worry, a little further,’ and I’ll say, ‘Why do I feel like he’s going to shoot me in the back?’ Like that scene from Goodfellas. “
Mackie [imitating De Niro in Goodfellas]: “Around the corner. Right there.”
Stan: “Just you and me, having a campfire overnight, camping …”
Mackie: “See? That’s all I want. What is the worst that can happen? It could be chased by a wild boar. “
They continue to tease each other until they both collapse with laughter. Ex-military guys might recognize this condition as “happy from the Democrats.” It must be a strange thing to play the same characters on and off for the better part of a decade, especially in the secret world of an open mega-franchise like Marvel. Both actors have done a good job in the middle: Stan in The Martian and I, Tonya; Mackie in Detroit and The Hate U Give. But none felt “done” with Marvel, they say. True to the military origins of its characters, there is a feeling of being on permanent standby, always ready to be called on another mission.
“But once you get that call, it’s like Christmas morning,” says Stan.
Mackie agrees. “I have played this character for so long that I know him inside and out. So building on that with more history, more arc, more background, each time you visit them again, it becomes easier. When you get into a new character, it’s a lot more work because you have to start from scratch. “The exhibition has also benefited his career:” There are so many people I meet that they had never seen me in anything until they saw me as Sam Wilson , and then they came back and saw other things. “
Any doubts about the return were mitigated by the fact that this is a small screen output with large screen values. In addition to the buddy comedy, we can expect white-knuckle action sequences (the opening episode throws Falcon into a spectacular aerial chase involving helicopters, flying suits, and missiles) and new locations (a trip to the fictional Southeast Asian city). Madripoor is underway). the letters), although it is unknown where the six-part story will go.
The Captain America movies were always the “serious” backbone of Marvel stories, reflecting current themes of military overreach, surveillance, patriotism, and allegiance to the flag. In 2014’s The Winter Soldier, Captain America turned against his corrupt government and went rogue. Both Falcon and the Winter Soldier sided with him. If you intend to continue in that direction, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has a lot to chew on, given the recent era of Black Lives Matter, the kneeling, Trumpism, and far-right nationalism. Along with other returning characters (Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, Daniel Brühl’s villain Baron Zemo), the series features “US Agent,” played by Wyatt Russell. In his various incarnations in the comics, he has been a super patriotic nemesis of Captain America and also his successor. Also added to the mix are a group calling themselves “the Flag-Smashers,” whose name and comic book heritage suggest another element related to nationalism.
“That’s another undercurrent that I love about the show,” says Stan. “It’s about things deeper than just symbols. You can’t just take symbols and justify actions with them. “
Following the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, also known as Black Panther, Mackie is now the most prominent black character in the Marvel Universe, which also adds extra weight to his story. The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige, has recognized: “What had been a classic passing of the torch from one hero to another at the end of Endgame [where Evans’s Captain America handed his shield to Mackie’s Falcon, as if anointing him as his successor] it became an opening of our potential to tell a full story about that, “he said. “What does it really mean for someone to wear those shoes, and not just someone, but a black man today?”
Since his debut in 1941, Captain America has been the literal model of American militarism; the embodiment of American (white) values. Putting a black man on paper is not a small gesture. “The patriotism aspect is a very important part of my character,” says Mackie. “You have to remember that when you met him, he was an advisor to soldiers trying to re-acclimatize from war. And with the character of Wyatt, there is a certain mutual admiration that accompanies both being ex-military. So you can definitely expect more of that. “
As for becoming Marvel’s most prominent black superhero, Mackie cleverly deflects the question: “I never thought Chadwick’s passing was an opportunity for Sam Wilson,” he says. “Chad and I had a lot in common, being from the South and having a classical training in theater. I think that’s why we grew so much as individuals, because there was an understanding. So I would like to uphold his legacy as an individual human being and as a man, rather than uphold his legacy as a Black Panther. ”
There is another, less intentional way in which the ongoing Avengers saga resonates with the present moment. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier takes place after “The Blip,” Thanos’s mass extinction event, as a result of which half of the population disappeared for five years and then returned. “The show deals with our characters coming back after The Blip and trying to figure out what their new normal is in this new society,” says Mackie. “And that is exactly what we are dealing with today with Covid.”
It was a case of life imitating art. The show was written (by Malcolm Spellman, best known for the hip-hop series Empire) about 18 months ago. Filming in Prague had been going on for six months before being closed by local Covid restrictions last March. They had to wait until September to complete filming, under conditions of quarantine and social distancing.
With most cinemas closed, this is a serendipitous time for superheroes to be migrating to the small screen. In the pipeline are shows focusing on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, She-Hulk, and Ms Marvel, among others. Which leads to the inevitable question: is there another Avengers-style multi-title master plan unfolding here? Do Stan and Mackie have an idea of the big picture?
“Honestly, I don’t think we will,” says Stan.
“We know there is going to be a great movie with a lot of heroes and shit exploding,” says Mackie. If he really is the next Captain America, he either doesn’t realize it or is using that superpower known as “acting.” Either way, it doesn’t show: “I haven’t seen the final cut of the last episode. So I don’t know if I will die yet. But … I hope I don’t. “
Stan: “Yes. Hopefully we all make it. “
Mackie: “Hopefully.” They both laugh again. “I’m just trying to stay alive, bro.”
Stan: “That’s correct. One day at a time “.
Let’s wait and see. But if this is the end of the road, there is at least potential for a reality show: Fishing with Mackie and Stan, anyone?
New Episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Available Fridays on Disney +
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism