In a Variety podcast interview, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star rejected the interpretation that some fans have that Sam and Bucky are romantically attracted to each other. “So many things are twisted and convoluted," said Mackie. "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. 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 rationalize themselves. So something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. 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 conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.” But Mackie's wording, particularly his "exploitation of homosexuality" comment, incensed some fans. "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," tweeted one Marvel fan. Another added: "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..." As Uproxx's Kimberly Ricci points out: "It’s not apparent whether Mackie’s suddenly realized that abundant fan fiction exists (in which people write their dream-scenarios, including Sam and Bucky being a couple), and perhaps he’s not realizing that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier seemed to already realize this and chose to send out signals toward the fans who churn out this fiction. Disney+ played with it, sort of as a nod to fans, to show that they’re listening. Yet some fans felt too teased, which is understandable. It’s one thing when people genuinely read into things too much, like with the whole Mephisto business when the hints weren’t really there, but yeah, The Falcon and the Winter Solder did heavily suggest romantic vibes between the lead heroes. Ultimately, though, the LGBTQ+ community is seeking representation in stories, and it’s fair for them to wonder what on earth Anthony Mackie is saying."