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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Gets Personal – The Growth of Sam And Bucky: Cast Interview

What happens after the war is over and our superheroes come home? What happens after the parades and the daily “thank yous” have dissipated? What happens to a superhero when the only person left to save is themselves? This this is the premise of Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the upcoming Disney+ series about two of the most opposite Avengers who must adjust to a world after being gone for five years.

In celebration of the show’s March 19th’s début, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan joined head writer Malcolm Spellman, director Kari Skogland and producer Kevin Fiege to discuss the importance of exploring characters past traumas, addressing very grounded life issues and bringing a big budget action thriller to the small screen.

(L-R): Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

“I think Endgame was a monumental shift of the superhero universe. The scope of that movie, the idea of that film is something larger than I think anyone imagine. The characters of Bucky and Sam are essential to the MCU and-and as they change or as they evolve, or whatever they go through could and should have a big impact on the on the MCU,” said Feige.

“We’ve seen a lotta cool action with both of them before. And more importantly, as I think you also see in [the] first episode and will see much more of over the course of the series, learn who the heck they are. We know a little bit about the poor Bucky Barnes and what he’d been through. Sam Wilson, other than that he likes the job and is an inherently moral man and had been in the service and worked with PTSD, we didn’t know much about ’em. So, it was really an opportunity to go deep,” Kevin concluded.

The ramifications of not just the snap but the years of going into battle have shaken the very foundations of themselves and society. This is the Marvel Cinematic Universe both Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes have returned to, leaving them to navigate a world rife with all-new conflicts and tension. As they tackle the battle raging within they now must also grapple with Captain America’s legacy, their ties to it and the enemies who threaten to tear it all down.

(L-R): Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (Emily Van Camp) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

After Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Studios knew it was time for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to lead their own story. According to showrunner Malcolm Spellman, a pivotal scene in that film set the tone for the series and inspired the writers  to take a buddy cop approach to the characters.

“There was about a 12-second moment Civil War where it feels like every single Marvel fan, Kevin Feige, and all his cabal partners knew these two guys were gonna be able to support a movie or a franchise. And in doing the interviews, I feel like you can’t really take credit for the tone because in that 12 seconds everybody knew what it was gonna be, and that’s just sort of a transcendent thing. The buddy- cop-the-or, the buddy-two-hander genre, what we loved about them is the range tonally. You can go from as gritty as gritty as 48 Hrs. to as comedic as Rush Hour, but in between there is sorta that first Lethal Weapon and that first Bad Boys. What we liked about it was it allows Sebastian and Anthony to do what they do and create that magic, but also allows the broader creative to take on real issue or if you need to get into something very Marvel-y, it’s a very durable form of storytelling,” said Spellman.

Director Skogland pointed out, “I approached [it] like a film from the beginning. We were making a six-hour film. We just figured out where to snip it at certain hour marks. Malcolm and I did a lot of looking at shows that were in our paradigm because we have a buddy-cop kind of relationship going on, so we looked at some of those. I mean, I look at a lot of different influences to sort of help me put it into a box.”

(L-R): Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

“I looked as crazy as [director] David Lean or Midnight Cowboy. I really go very wide and then try to put it in a pot and sorta stir it and come up with something that is uniquely signature for our look. It was important we respected we were gonna be into peoples’ perspective and so we really had to go in deep [with the] character [to] be able to sustain that. So, it was also looking at how to do that, how to [create our] signature, [even from] the camera [and] the nature of even where we put focal planes. How we see Bucky while he’s in therapy. All the different ways we could be more intimate with these characters so that we get to
know them.”

Despite these characters being around for decades, just like the comics and the movies, they’re always evolving and bringing something new to the screen and into the actors lives. Through the series we get to explore a new side of the characters. Bucky’s in therapy finally getting the help he needs, while Sam is home trying to put the family he no longer knows back together. Being able to evolve with the characters for the past decade is something both actors enjoyed.

“If you remember, when Sam Wilson first started out, he was a hustler from Harlem. And then, as African Americans culture evolved, Stan Lee evolved him in the comic book into different incarnations of himself. So, I’m excited for everyone to see the new and improved Sam Wilson,” said Mackie.

Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

“I always learn something about myself from this character. I spent ten years with this character, you know? You grow and you evolve with the character. I was pretty freaked out because, again, I felt like we had established a character a certain way and there were certain things about him that I knew  and I was very comfortable and familiar with tonally in the movies. And then, we had to kind of go into this and go, ‘All right. Well, what is he like now?’ And part of that was really kind of us homing 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 kind of just marrying the two,” said Stan.

“The character we’ve been introduced to so for all these movies and then also where is he now? I think that was scary and exciting. Malcolm really homed in on that and I think we’re really finally zooming in on sort of his quest for identity in terms of really accepting his past and reeducating himself about the world that he’s currently in the ideals and principles he might’ve lived by and been driven by at one point that perhaps no longer really serve him the same way. So, he’s in an interesting trajectory when we start out the show and, obviously, that’s always exciting for an actor,” Stan concluded.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres Friday, March 19, on Disney+.

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