Marvel Studios brought another winner of a project with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which completed its run last week as the MCU's second Disney+ exclusive. With Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes having to navigate a post-Avengers: Endgame world fully affected by The Blip, the duo persevered through trials and tribulations to keep Steve Rogers' legacy alive while carving their own place as heroes.
Sam and Bucky's relationship with each other throughout this series was one of the biggest challenges, as it turns out, with their contention coming through thanks to Sam giving Steve's shield back to the Smithsonian in Episode 1. Both of them put aside their differences to stop the imminent threats ahead of them, and by the end, their friendship shined as brightly as the sun in the final shot of Episode 6.
While this friendship was certainly a key plot point, there was a deeper side to their relationship discussed by fans which was touched on in the most recent discussion about the series.
KARI SKOGLAND TALKS SAM/BUCKY PAIRING
In an interview with Variety after the season finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, director Kari Skogland tackled the topic of Bucky Barnes, specifically from Episode 1 of the series. When Bucky goes on his date with Leah, one of the first things he mentions is the "tiger photos" he's seen during his trials of online dating.
While many fans assumed this was a nod to Bucky being bisexual, Skogland confirmed it was more of Bucky seeing it as "an oddity of the times" that confused him as he adjusted to the 21st century:
“I think we just thought of it as an oddity of the times, because he’s so confused by it. Because don’t forget, he’s 106 years old. So he’s just confused by the whole thing.”
Skogland clarified that the moment was more meant to "display was his complete lack of technical skills" and reinforce how alone he is in this world.
“What we were really more trying to display was his complete lack of technical skills, as well as being part of any kind of community. He doesn’t fit. So that was I think more our intention there that try to point to any one particular affinity.”
Additionally, fans touched on Episode 2, which showed numerous instances of aggressive banter and physical intimacy between Sam and Bucky after first meeting up again.
While Skogland explained that "there’s no defined sexuality" to these moments between the duo, she admitted that she stays "completely fluid when it comes to any of that." They "don’t love each other" when the series starts, but as they fight and bond together, Skogland assures fans that "they come to a friendship place where they love each other" by the time the series concludes:
“It’s really love, right? They love each other — at the end. They don’t love each other at the beginning, but they come to a friendship place where they love each other. So I’m not really sensitive to masculinity as any kind of barrier between that love, or how it should manifest. I’m completely fluid when it comes to any of that. So there’s no defined sexuality to any of it. So it’s, really, I think, just affection.”
A CHANGING LANDSCAPE
The MCU has largely avoided relationships in favor of more action and comedy-based storytelling. However, with Joe Russo's cameo character confirmed to have been gay in 2019's Avengers: Endgame, there are signs that this may be changing for Phase 4 and beyond.
Marvel Studios is doing an incredible job in terms of representation for different minorities with films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings along with Black Panther 2, although characters' sexualities are an entirely different topic.
Rumors had pointed to WandaVision introducing Hulkling, who ends up in a relationship with Wiccan in the comics. While the series did bring Billy Maximoff into play before he disappeared with the rest of his mother's Hex, this relationship with Hulkling hasn't come to fruition at this time.
As for Bucky himself, it remains to be seen whether the MCU will fully explore his potential bisexual nature in future projects. What's clear is that he and Sam Wilson are becoming close friends through their battles alongside each other, and it will be exciting to see how that grows and evolves in future movies like the recently announced Captain America 4.
All six episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are available to stream on Disney+.