The Captain America films are renowned for holding a mirror up to society, acting as parables for the modern world. Sure enough, as soon as Steve Rogers retired the shield and hung up his star-spangled boots, the world moved into uncharted, uncertain territory. Now, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan face the task of continuing a legacy that’s been built on values of courage and responsibility. Add mateship to that equation and you have a pair of comic book heroes uniquely equipped to meet the challenges of our times.
MensHealth.com.au — Over the past decade I’ve felt a difference within myself. A change, a pull, a stirring. And as the Zoom call connects and my face pops up between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, my suspicions are confirmed: I’m a nerd.
Of course, I’m not alone. The slope to Marvel fandom is not only slippery, it’s one that’s claimed millions around the world in the last decade-and-a-half. It’s the original pandemic, a wave of nerd culture sweeping up millennial males, driven for the most part by the creative forces behind Marvel Studios.
Over the course of 23 films, the Disney-owned studio has brought the comic book heroes of our childhood to the big screen, intricately weaving together a saga that culminated in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time. Beyond their box office clout, these films have had a profound impact on popular culture. They’ve created superstars of their casts, spawned a new generation of fitness idols and provided a great deal of fodder for this very magazine.
Here and now, I find myself positioned between two of the linchpins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (what us nerds call the MCU), trying my very best not to geek out. Maintain professionalism, don’t be a dork, do your job.
“How are you, boys?” I say, intentionally lowering my voice to mask my delight at the situation.
“Chillin’, ” says Mackie, stirring a tea in his mid-century-fitted living room. “Very, very excited,” adds Stan, juxtaposed in a cabin-style living room.
My inner geek stirs. So well cast are Mackie and Stan, that even their homes are reflective of their onscreen alter egos – Sam ‘Falcon’ Wilson and Bucky ‘The Winter Soldier’ Barnes respectively. To my relief, they’re both equally excited to be here, clearly relishing the opportunity to once again be back saving the world, and many others, in the process.
“They brought me back! I’m not fired!” says a jubilant Mackie. “Just don’t get fired, bro,” he urges Stan, as if immediately realizing the fragility of their future. “Just don’t get fired.”
“I just wanted to keep going,” reassures Stan. “I always want to keep going. I’m happy we got another round at it, however we got it.”
Mackie and Stan have once again joined forces as the titular characters in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, taking on villains in their very own Disney + limited series. This time around the stakes are higher, for both the characters and the real-world players backing the project.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is an ambitious move for Marvel, a studio renowned for taking large, and often extremely profitable risks within the comic-book genre.
The show extends the MCU beyond the big screen, a moved planned well before COVID-19 shut cinemas worldwide, although the current appetite for on-demand, short-form content has only built excitement for the delayed release of the series.
If the early buzz and the popularity of its first limited series, WandaVision, are anything to go by, success for Mackie, Stan and the entire MCU seems all but assured. The critically acclaimed follow-up to Avengers: Endgame has even provided an opportunity for more work for the two leading men, with the possible introduction of a ‘multiverse’ (an equally exciting prospect for MH, with the promise of infinite cover men).
“They keep me so in the dark about what possibly happens with these dudes,” says Mackie, on what he hopes for Falcon’s future beyond this particular project. “I would just be happy to be in another movie.” That should be easy enough. Just don’t get fired. Continue reading