In the series, Sam and Bucky are depicted as having a close friendship with discussion from fans that perhaps the two characters share a romantic connection.
Mackie was asked about the fan speculation surrounding his character’s relationship with Stan during an appearance on Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast.
The actor, however, confirmed that the friendship is purely platonic.
“So many things are twisted and convoluted,” he said. “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,” Mackie continued.
“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 rationalise themselves.”
Fans were quick to react to Mackie’s comments, criticising him for his choice of words.
“Anthony Mackie should’ve just said the ship was cute and called it a day,” wrote one fan. “I understand where he’s coming from, he just needed to word it better.”
Another echoed the same sentiment, writing: “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 idk why he compared being a Superhero to being masculine…”
“Why did he have to say 4 paragraphs instead of saying, ‘it’s cute!’ and keep it moving,” wrote someone else.
One fan added: “Anthony Mackie waited until pride month to talk about how annoying it is for gay people with virtually no representation in the MCU to head cannon their faves as gay.”
Another user wrote: “Me, a queer person: *shipping my favs* Anthony Mackie: This is an exploitation of homosexuality.”
“Did anthony mackie pull a ‘why can’t guys be friends without it being gay’ on sambucky,” added someone else.
“Please stop asking about gay shipping in 2021 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,” said another user.
Some took issue with Mackie’s comment surrounding the importance of a “sensitive masculine figure”, stating 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 conversation and a kindred spirit friendship with someone you care about and love.”
One person wrote: “Anthony mackie: there’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up. Female superheroes: Am I a joke to you?”
Others have defended Mackie over his remarks, with one person writing: “Anthony Mackie actually made a really good point about sensitivity in men being perceived incorrectly as a gay trait, and y’all intentionally misinterpreted the statement… this is Twitter and we thrive off negative attention, I guess.”
“You know what, I’m going to dunk on Variety here, for framing this thread in a way designed to provoke Twitter’s anger against Anthony Mackie,” wrote another user, who called out Disney instead.
“Disney knows there’s a massive shipping fan base for these characters and exploited that to get views, while not making the pair romantic so as not to lose homophobic viewers. It’s corporate queerbaiting at a much higher level than individual actors can control.”
They continued: “In this interview, Mackie has to justify the mismatch between the homoerotically-framed scenes and the heteronormative writing. He doesn’t want to get on his employer’s bad side and I also believe he’s trying *not* to say something homophobic, albeit clumsily.”
The Independent has contacted a representative of Mackie’s for comment.