“Finally, I am free”: Thunderbolts Star Sebastian Stan Happy To Be Out of Anthony Mackie’s Shadow, Labels Their Relationship as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’

Thunderbolts Star Sebastian Stan Happy To Be Out of Anthony Mackie's Shadow, Labels Their Relationship as 'Stockholm Syndrome'
Featured Video

When the 2022 D23 Expo came around, it was (finally) Sebastian Stan’s time to shine on his own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After having spent 11 years at the studio and a century in the universe, Sebastian Stan aka the Winter Soldier is now a part of a new allegiance, known as the Thunderbolts. The 2024 movie will mark the actor’s 8th appearance in an MCU project since his debut as Bucky Barnes in 2011.

Sebastian Stan
Sebastian Stan debuts as the Winter Soldier in Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

Also read: “They look like a troubled bunch”: Sebastian Stan Hopeful Bucky’s New Thunderbolts Team Could Make Up For Him Never Getting to Officially Join Avengers

Sebastian Stan Steps Out of the Shadows in Thunderbolts

The Winter Soldier has always been the morally grey character who represented the darker remnants of Hydra and as such, needed constant conditioning. The character’s comic arc delved into his role as the Cap’s sidekick who was tasked with doing the dirty work that was out of legal bounds for the Captain. In the cinematic world, his definitive journey as “one of the good guys” was explored only a fraction in the Infinity Saga and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. 

Sebastian Stan appears as the Hydra assassin, Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan appears as the mind-controlled Hydra assassin, Winter Soldier

Also read: 5 Reasons Why The Winter Soldier Should Get His Own Movie (& 5 Why A Solo Series Makes Sense)

However, Thunderbolts will finally witness the character traversing the in-universe terrain as an anti-hero in a wonky team made up of the likes of Yelena Belova, John Walker/US Agent, Taskmaster, Red Guardian, and Ghost. The team comprised of reformed supervillains will most likely be spearheaded by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (considering that the script is moving away from the comic origin that puts Baron Zemo at the helm) and will witness a richly built world with an intertwined narrative that constantly puts the morally grey characters and their actions to question.

The film marks Sebastian Stan‘s appearance as the Winter Soldier in his own capacity, i.e. without the accompanying and looming protective shadow of the Captain’s shield or the Falcon’s wings. In response to a question posed at the D23 Expo that asked him about how he feels to finally be out of their shadow, the Romanian-born actor jokingly replied,


“All I can say, freedom tastes bright. Finally, I am free. No, I love him… It is weird, of course. It’s a little bit like… what’s that, Stockholm Syndrome or something? When you’re like, ‘I might not… you know…’ But anyway, it’s nice to at least always be close to each other.”

Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie at the D23 Expo
Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie at the D23 Expo

Also read: “MCU’s next big power couple – Yelena and Bucky”: Fans Convinced Thunderbolts Will See Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova Become Next Tony-Pepper of MCU

The Evolution of Bucky Barnes in MCU: 2011-2022

In the chaos wrought on by the catastrophic events of World War II, a superhero was born and the world gained its First Avenger. But Captain America was not spurned into action until it was his best friend, Sgt. James Buchanan Barnes, whose life was in peril. The Cap’s heroic arc began with the rescue mission of the 107th Infantry Regiment where Bucky was an officer, and the finality of Bucky’s (supposed) death catalyzed him to end the regime of the Nazi and the Hydra overlord, Red Skull.

Winter Soldier
The evolution of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier

Also read: Reasons The Winter Soldier Is Still The Best MCU Film


Since his entry as the reformed antagonist, Sebastian Stan had spent most of his stay at Marvel in the shadow of either Captain America or the Falcon. Although the trio make a good team on-screen and are even better friends off the camera, the tragic and antagonistic character was either used and controlled by Hydra or always needed to be on the run. As such, one of the most well-evolved in MCU never got his redemption arc where he could finally shine as an individual, until now.

Thunderbolts premieres on July 26, 2024.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


Written by Diya Majumdar

Articles Published: 1570

With a degree in Literature from Miranda House, Diya Majumdar now has above 1500 published articles on FandomWire. Her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema while being a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh. Other skills include being the proud owner of an obsessive collection of Spotify playlists.