The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star received pushback Thursday for complaining about fans imagining Sam and Bucky's friendship as a gay relationship. "First, it's important to point out what Mackie gets right, which is the importance of portraying better, more intimate male friendships and relationships, where onscreen male friends do more than objectify women together," says Kylie Cheung. "In Marvel's Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Bucky and Sam gradually put their petty differences and squabbles aside, open up to each other about their feelings of loss from the departure of their friend Steve (Chris Evans), and form a real, meaningful bond. Male friendships that go this deep are a rare in TV and movies, and Mackie is right to emphasize the importance of more 'sensitive' portrayals of masculinity. But how, exactly, does allowing fans to interpret and celebrate queer love detract from storytelling about straight male friendship? How are either of these visions and aspirations, for greater representation of queer love and queer storytelling, and more sensitive straight male characters, in conflict with each other? They're not. 'Shipping' characters who do and don't end up together is a tradition as old as fandom itself, and while everyone can ship anyone, shipping characters can be an especially fun and powerful experience for queer fans, who are offered so few opportunities to see themselves in stories — especially stories told by Marvel. The relatively few queer love stories we do get to see onscreen so often end in tragedy, end in characters' queerness not being accepted, in heartbreak and struggle that can force queer audiences to relive their own traumas. LGBTQ fans are able to find joy, bonding and community in fan fiction, in their own storytelling, projection and artistic interpretation. Mackie, of all people, should know what it's like to fantasize about an onscreen relationship between fictional characters that isn't going to happen — he himself has admitted he 'requested' a love story between Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Sam 'several times.' Shipping fictional characters who aren't going to be together only really seems problematic to him when they're of the same sex."