Anthony Mackie’s Marvel LGBTQ controversy misses point

Anthony Mackie and Sam Wilson's Sebastian Stan and Bucky Barnes share a moment of calm together in Marvel's The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Two guys, being guys, hanging out and throwing shields.
Picture: Marvel studios

Falcon and the Winter Soldier could be in the rearview mirror for Marvel and Disney as a company turn his eyes to Loki, but the talk around the show came back to the forefront of fans last night following a new interview. with Captain America himself, Anthony Mackie. But the fury around Mackie’s answers to a pointed question directs his frustration in the wrong direction.

Within the framework of Varieties Rewards circuit podcast series, Mackie discussed the desirability of his rise to the mantle of Captain America in Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘s finale, but was also asked about the show’s portrayal of Sebastian Stan’s relationship between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, and why the show didn’t portray the duo’s relationship as more than friendly.

“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There is so much that people hold onto with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational, ”Mackie said when asked to play their relationship as male friends, rather than potentially romantic. “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 that guys could be friends, we could hang out together, and that was cool. You always met your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do it anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves.

“So something that has always been very important to me is showing a sensitive male figure. There is nothing more masculine than being a superhero and stealing and beating people, ”Mackie continued. “But there is nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a similar spirit of friendship with someone you love and love.”

Comments were further inflamed on social media when the business broke down Mackie’s response into a series of strung tweets. In doing so, many of Mackie’s points regarding both his aversion to discussing fandom topics like shipping as well as his commentary on the exploitation of homosexuality at the corporate level, were presented in isolation, which led commentators to choose excerpts from Mackie’s response to dunk on.

Audiences looking for a weirder portrayal of Marvel’s film and television production have more than a right to be annoyed by Mackie’s response, given the studio’s lackluster approach to include prominent LGBTQIA figures in over a decade of production so far. And, even read in its most diplomatic form, Mackie’s response is perhaps awkward at best, and dismissive at worst of genuine public concern and disappointment. But at the same time, it’s clear the actor is uncomfortable answering questions about his character’s fandom interpretations – “I’m trying to stay away from fan stuff,” Mackie said before the question about the show’s lack of quirk in the podcast, “The fandom is a very dangerous place, so I let it be what it is and move on.”

Whether his answer or not should being awkward is another matter. The thrust for broader conversations around a diverse representation in tentpole franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star wars and other myriad Hollywood blockbusters have been a process that has been going on for years at this point. This is a time when, perhaps, actors – or more specifically their PR officers – should be aware that critics and journalists will want them to address issues of representation, queer or otherwise, so they should. be prepared to respond to these requests. Even though that answer is as simple as “it’s not something I have a say in, but there should be more and better representation in our media to reflect the society we live in”, that would be better than the kind of hot water that Mackie himself found landed as a trending topic on Twitter last night.

Speaking of Star wars, real life example: the story of John Boyega and Oscar Isaac discussing the potential for their sequel trilogy characters Finn and Poe Dameron to be in a relationship together. Both were favorable to pushing, but with no commitment that their characters are gay until someone who did having control over what kind of creative decision might come and respond (in their case The Rise of Skywalker director JJ Abrams, who closed the possibility as the film’s release approaches, too much disappointment).

Illustration for the article titled Falcon and The Winter Soldier's Lack of Queer Representation Isn't On Anthony Mackie

Picture: Marvel studios

Yet despite Mackie’s lack of preparation to address the criticism – a valid criticism of both Falcon and the wider release of Marvel – the resulting fandom wrath looks like misdirected anger, especially given the way Variety phrased Mackie’s response on social media, a move that ended in a maximum frustration for the actor himself. The real question isn’t whether we should blame these huge shows and movies for their occasional platitudes about diverse portrayal, queer or otherwise, but to target these questions at the people who actually control the production of these studios: screenwriters, directors. and producers. Particularly in an institution like Marvel Studios, where the upper echelons of management have a very public face in the form of Kevin Feige, the role of the producers as the forward-looking architects of these films and shows is an idea. that the public already knows.

After all, it’s not just people making creative decisions, like whether or not to portray a previously ambiguous character as queer, or frame a moment between two characters with homoromantic undertones. In Falconin the particular case, these are the people who have a habit of teasing the show’s chances of queer performance in the first place, and therefore are the people who should be held to the test when that tease turns out to be n ‘be nothing more than this. Malcolm Spellman, one of the main writers of the series and now a co-writer on the Mackie with Captain America 4, told the press and fans that they should “keep watching …” when asked about the theories that Bucky Barnes could be portrayed in Falcon and the Winter Soldier as bisexual in an interview with NME– only so that this audience is rewarded with nothing at all. The aforementioned Kevin Feige, who also has producer credits on Falcon like he does the most at The Marvel Studios outlet has a habit of offering lackluster answers to the “wait and see” incidents of the lack of diverse Marvel characters, as in the perspective of Avengers: Endgame when he said the fans had a right to see yourself in Marvel movies, only to go back and say he I didn’t think it would be so bad that the fans would be scandalized that End of Game gave the MCU its first explicitly queer character in the form of a minor cameo from director Joe Russo.

It is clear that, despite what appear to be years of promises, that change is coming on this front (the first queer relationship onscreen and fuck in Marvel movie should arrive at Chloé Zhao’s The Eternals later this year, and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie will be portrayed as a bisexual woman at Taika Waititi Thor: Love and Thunder next year), the lack of queer representation is still a lingering problem at Marvel Studios films and shows. Fans have every right to be frustrated with this problem as long as it persists, and reporters should ask the folks at the studio to answer for why their material fumbles when it does.

But the people who need to being held accountable for this issue, and others like him, are not necessarily people like Mackie, actors who can at best support these frustrations and hope for positive change. Instead, these concerns need to be addressed by people who can change them. We’re talking about the architects of a system that has so far failed to highlight queer characters, in studios like Disney, like Spellman and Feige. Perhaps especially in a studio like Disney, which has a long history of struggle to present LGBTQIA + characters at the forefront of its stories.

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