Sebastian Stan Addresses Mental Health & PTSD Themes In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

By Pierre Chanliau Posted:
Bucky Barnes The Winter Soldier

It's less than a week until fans see the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will focus on two of Steve Rogers' closest friends reclaiming his shield from the US government while also stopping an escaped Zemo and newly terrorist group, The Flag-Smashers.

The series will explore both characters in-depths never seen in the films, such as exploring Sam Wilson's background and how Bucky Barnes “goes back to his own demons” to face his past as the Winter Soldier.

In a press conference for the show, which Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan participated in, the latter answered more about Bucky and how the mental health aspects of his character will be explored on Marvel Studios' second show.


During The Falcon and the Winter Soldier press conference, Sebastian Stan answered multiple questions about his character of Bucky Barnes throughout.

In particular, Stan was asked about exploring a new side of his character that hasn't been seen in the films.

“I always learn something about myself when I play this character. I've spent ten years with this character, you know? You grow and evolve with the character and I think everyone here is gonna attest to this, I was freaked out, because, again, I felt like we had established a character a certain way, and there are certain things about him that I knew that I was comfortable and familiar with, tonally, in the movies, right?”

He specifies that he was scared and excited about the transition of the character from film to series, but that he and everyone else working on the show were able to do that by focusing on his sense of humor and dynamic with Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson.

“And then we had to kinda go into this and go 'Alright, well, what is he like now?' and part of that was us honing in on his sense of humor so to speak that really came into the tone of the series and particularly with his dynamic with Sam Wilson, along with my own dynamic with Anthony and kinda just marrying the two. The character that we've been introduced to for all these movies and then also 'where he is now,' and I think that was scary and exciting.”

Stan also gave enormous credit to executive producer Malcolm Spellman who helped shape the character of Bucky in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

“Obviously, Malcolm really homed in on that, and I think we're really finally zooming in on his quest for identity in terms of really accepting his past and re-educating himself about the world he's currently in, the ideals and principles he might have lived by and been driven by that perhaps no longer serve him the same way. He's really in an interesting trajectory when we start the show.”

A later question was asked to the actors about how they felt being able to explore their characters in more depth when it came to topics like family issues and PTSD. Obviously, considering Barnes' trouble past as the deadly Winter Soldier, this would be a central focus of the series and how it links both Sam Wilson and Bucky.

“Yeah, the whole subject of PTSD and the experience that they both share as soldiers, as men who have served, is one of the things that brings them together and there's sort of a bit of an honor code between them even though they come from different ideas or opinions about things, there's a mutual respect, which Anthony's already touched upon.”

He concludes his answer by pointing out that Bucky's own experience with PTSD isn't over and that it will be a “major” part of the show.

“And as everybody knows PTSD is not something you're done with, it's really something that one has to continue to grow with and to become better at dealing with. Obviously, it's a major part of our show and grounds both of these characters in realistic ways.”


By far, one of the biggest advantages of Marvel Studios producing series, in addition to films, is that it allows the more underdeveloped supporting characters to have the spotlight like Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. It's especially fortunate for the latter, who was essentially a minor supporting character for most of his appearances in this enormous franchise.

Bucky “dies” half-way through Captain America: The First Avenger, becomes a (mostly) silent antagonist in his second appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and his third major appearance is in Captain America: Civil War as a plot device for the majority of the film. It will be fantastic to see Bucky Barnes as a full-fledged character with Sebastian Stan given more to do in terms of acting, whether it be trading barbs with Anthony Mackie or exploring Barnes' personal demons.

Release Date
March 19, 2021
- About The Author: Pierre Chanliau
Pierre Chanliau began as a news & feature writer for The Direct at the site's launch in 2020. As a longtime reader of superhero comic books, Pierre's knowledge of Marvel and DC is extensive, informing his reporting and editorial pieces regarding the MCU and DCU.