Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan tease the 'odd-couple' chemistry of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Following in Captain America's footsteps is a weighty task — literally. When Chris Evans' Steve Rogers retired at the end of 2019's Avengers: Endgame, he left his mantle and star-spangled shield to Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson. On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, debuting March 19 on Disney+, Sam is grappling with what it might mean to carry on Cap's role — which meant Mackie had to learn how to throw that oversize red-white-and-blue Frisbee. "I didn't realize how heavy it was," he admits with a laugh. "A 10-pound weight hanging off your arm is not the easiest thing to deal with."
Captain America's legacy looms over the next Marvel live-action show, which follows Sam and his surly metal-armed friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), as they face new threats. Ahead of the show's debut, EW spoke with Mackie and Stan for our March issue, and the two stars teased the six-episode series as part action-packed superhero epic, part awkward buddy-comedy. "There's an odd-couple kind of back-and-forth there," Stan explains. "Like, 'I don't really like you, but I might need you.'"
Sam and Bucky have been reluctant allies since they first bickered over legroom in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. They're both battle-hardened veterans trying to do Cap proud, but they have what head writer Malcolm Spellman calls "a fire-and-ice dynamic."
"There's a real chemistry there," he says of Mackie and Stan, who often improvise insults on set. "Imagine getting to write the first installment of a buddy-cop series, knowing exactly what the rhythm and flavor is with the two characters before you even start."
Both Sam and Bucky have spent most of their screen time in sidekick roles, but the new series will dive deeper into each man's psyche. Sam is wrestling with the aftereffects of the Infinity War and what it might take to become the next Captain America — a role the rest of the world may not be ready to embrace. "The idea of whether or not a Black man could become Captain America just felt like a huge moment and a huge opportunity," Spellman adds.
Meanwhile, Bucky, the World War II soldier–turned–eyeliner-wearing assassin, is still reckoning with his murderous past and how to cope in a world without Steve. "How does that guy function in 2021, in the times of today?" Stan explains. "And there's comedic parts: How does he deal with technology? Is this guy ordering Postmates at home?"
Mackie and Stan aren't the only recurring Marvel vets, either: Daniel Brühl's villain Baron Zemo is back to wreak more havoc after dividing the Avengers in Civil War, and Emily VanCamp's former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Sharon Carter, will also return. New to the cast is Wyatt Russell as the militaristic John Walker, a.k.a. U.S. Agent — who, in the comics, is a government-approved replacement for Captain America.
Ultimately, Mackie and Stan say they're excited to carve out their own little corner of the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"We didn't lose that feeling of security and espionage," Mackie says. "It still feels like you're in a Philip K. Dick novel [or] a Tom Clancy movie. But at the same time, it's Sebastian and I, and we're idiots, so you get more of us being ourselves."