On Marvel's newest Disney+ TV show, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson's lives are being examined.
With the release of on Disney+, two or Marvel's most recognizable superheroes are getting the opportunity to shine like never before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the franchise's leading characters--those with movies named after them--have gotten ample time to have their personal lives and issues explored, now Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are getting their shot.
That exploration means different things for the two characters, though. For Sam, it's about his roots. "It was crucial, right? Because we needed to have a backstory that would make his journey about rebuking [Captain America's] shield compelling," writer Malcolm Spellman told GameSpot. "And we needed him to come from a certain amount of stuff--a very, very specifically black existence."
That experience, which includes the introduction of Sam's sister as played by Adepero Oduye, was partially borrowed from Mackie's own life. "Anthony Mackie is from Louisiana and understands what it's like to be a Black man in the south," the writer explained. "We blended that with different iterations of the book but the intention being having him rooted in a black experience--a southern Black experience--in a way that would make this journey fraught for him."
For Bucky, on the other hand, the experience is less about his past than a potential future. "We know all the foul stuff he's done in the past. and we know that it weighs heavy on him, and yet he's gone from battle to battle to battle and never had a chance to deal with it," Spellman said. "Bucky is that person so many of us have in our life, who has a giant issue on their back. And you're looking at your friend wishing they would deal with that issue and you don't know if they ever will. Whether or not Bucky can get that thing off his back or not, is going to determine whether he can move forward in the MCU as a fully realized person or just cave under the idea that he thinks he's a monster and therefore is a monster."
While the two are dealing with very different lives and sets of personal issues--and even though they don't seem to get along--their partnership works on several levels. Firstly, as explained by series director Kari Skogland, "They are both good friends of Steve Rogers and so they sort of have some common ground. They also have sort of some common history of both being in the military and such, so they are by definition in the same orbit, but they're not really friends."
Beyond that, they are united in their shared trauma and the idea that, at the end of the day, they are humans who want to live their lives as fully as they can--as normally as they can.
"The idea here was to create two characters who feel like they are of the times and two heroes who fans can look at and say, 'Man, that person goes home and deals with the same stuff I do,' Spellman explained.
At the very least, they'll have each other to rely on whether they like it or not. "In a way that both of them need each other," Skogland said. "Even if they don't want to know each other."
New episodes of Falcon and the Winter Soldier are available Fridays on Disney+.