Anthony Mackie has stirred controversy on Twitter for his take on Marvel fans rooting for a romance between his and Sebastian Stan's characters.
During Thursday's episode of Variety's "Awards Circuit" podcast, Mackie, who plays Sam Wilson, AKA Falcon, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was asked about fans "outright wanting Sam and Bucky (Barnes, played by Stan) to become a couple."
Mackie, who stars alongside Stan in the Disney+ miniseries "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," replied that "in this day and age, so many things are twisted and convoluted."
"There’s so many things that people latch onto with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational," he added.
Mackie went on to say that "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 guys could be friends, we could hang out, we could do this, and it was cool," he continued. "You would always meet your friends at the bar, but you can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves."
Mackie also said it's important for him to represent "a sensitive, masculine figure" and that closeness between two men doesn't always insinuate romance.
"There’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred-spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love," he said. "And you can call it a 'bromance' or whatever they call it, but it's literally just two guys who have each other's backs, and you don't have that now. You can't find that now."
He continued: "There's no bro-code between bros in 2021, and that's the thing. I think for a younger generation they don't understand if I say that Sam and Bucky have a bro-code that cannot be broken or altered or, in any way, shape or form, changed."
Mackie's comments garnered mixed reactions on Twitter, where many users took issue with him shutting down the idea that Sam and Bucky could become a couple.
"Me, a queer person: *shipping my favs*," wrote @pineapplebreads. "Anthony Mackie: This is an exploitation of homosexuality."
"please stop asking about gay shipping in 2021," wrote @dogunderwater. "i would prefer to be blithely unaware that anthony mackie is so uncomfortable with queer readings of his character that he thinks he can't hang out at a bar with his dude friends."
Other users said Mackie raised a valuable, though poorly worded, point.
"Anthony Mackie actually made a really good point about sensitivity in men being perceived incorrectly as a gay trait, and y’all intentionally misinterpreted the statement because… this is Twitter and we thrive off of negative attention, I guess," wrote @CadenToMyHazel.
"I get the point Anthony Mackie was trying to make but he definitely should've worded it better," wrote @AdvitInHiding. "Its totally not wrong for gay people to wish to see representation on the big screen, in the world's biggest franchise. Also idk why he compared being a Superhero to being masculine..."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anthony Mackie stirs controversy for comments on Sam, Bucky romance