Marvel’s foray into television has been a smash success so far, with its first series, WandaVision, going gangbusters across the globe. And now the MCU is following it up with two other beloved characters with their self-titled series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Ahead of the premiere tonight, only on Disney+, I had a chat with lead stars and longtime MCU staples, Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier) about their kickass new series.

P.S. I was also lucky enough to catch an early screening of the first ep, which premieres tonight, and lemme tell ya, it’s 1000% worth the hype!

Of all the characters in the MCU, why do you think Falcon and Winter Soldier’s story needed to be told?

Sebastian: Well we’re left off with a sort of question mark at the end of Endgame and we’re also left wondering how these two are going to handle the end of Endgame and what Captain America means. So that in itself is interesting and worth exploring. And we’ve never really learned much about these two, particularly [The Falcon], we haven’t learned that much about, when you think about it. So having six hours to go deeper and really flesh out who these guys are and why they are the way they are and going into their psychology at this point felt very accurate and earned.

Absolutely. Also I noticed the series has a female director, Kari Skogland, which is so nice to see! What did her directing skills bring to the show?

Anthony: Kari is very good with character development and hiding exposition so when you watch her work, you’re getting information about the characters but it doesn’t feel like she’s spoon-feeding you that information. A lot of things in the script for the characters either didn’t work or weren’t put together right, so she worked out the beats of those moments to make the transition really smooth. Her smarts are something that can’t be questioned, she really brought an intelligent feel, as a director, to the show.

Anthony Mackie as The Falcon (left) with Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier (right). (Credit: Disney+)

Do you think Marvel made the show because of your off-screen friendship?

S: I think that definitely helped, for sure. I think that the scene in Civil War was a real jumping-off point for us and they’ve paired us together now for a couple of years and I think that somebody [at Marvel] was smart enough to go, “Maybe there’s something we can explore here!” And I think that the story of Captain America caught up to both of us.

Why do you reckon this duo of heroes is better than any other duo in the MCU?

S: Other duos? What other duos are there in the MCU? There are none, you know that. Certainly not of this calibre. They’re both charming men.

Black Panther was a monumental film with a Black lead and a Black cast. How does it feel to now be the leader of your own show?

A: Of course it’s a personal experience. I’m very fortunate to do what I love and what I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s a reward, it’s a blessing to be able to have a show like this and a co-star like Sebastian and the ability to put my talents into the ethos for people to enjoy. It’s a huge blessing and I’m grateful for it.

That said, with the idea of representation and what it means for the Marvel Universe, Sam Wilson [Editor’s note: Sam Wilson is The Falcon’s real name] is kind of the eyes and ears of the audience. He’s not a superhero, he’s a regular guy who was asked by Captain America to come help out. So of course there’s pride that goes along in that. Of course there’s recognition that comes along with that. You just have to take it all in strive and never lose sight of yourself because it would be so easy to become something that you’re not, so I’m just going to focus on what I am.

Did Chris Evans give you any advice on the series? Did you speak to him beforehand at all?

S: Not really, no. I don’t know if Anthony did, but me? No.

A: Neither did I. [laughs]

S: Because we didn’t even know when we were shooting Endgame that we were gonna do it.

And elderly Captain America (Evans) passing his shield to Sam (Mackie) in Avengers: Endgame.

Are there aspects of the show that feel very timely for you?

S: I think the whole nature of the show feels very timely and the questions that it’s asking and exploring also. We were supposed to come out in August of last year, we didn’t, and a lot of things have happened since then, even earlier this year in Washington. [Editor’s note: He is referring to the insurrection that occurred at The Capitol on January 6 2021]. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but we’re coming out now after all these times and all these things we’ve witnessed collectively and when you see the show, you’ll understand how timely it is.

What’s been your biggest takeaway from the pandemic?

A: Appreciation has been a big one for me. Just slowing down and taking time to smell the roses and do what we love, I think is a big thing for me. It really put things into perspective when I had it all snatched away, and now having the opportunity to go back to it is huge.

WandaVision was such a huge success, is there a certain level of pressure to follow that up at all?

S: I don’t think so, honestly, because we’re such different shows. If anything, it’s been really nice having them usher Marvel into the streaming world. It gave us a chance to hone in on our series a little bit more because we got stopped during the pandemic. We’re just different shows, but just as vital and different.

The lads fighting alongside Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) as part of Team Cap in Civil War.

What scenes are your favourite to film?

S: Any time we have a staring contest is an interesting time because it’s sort of about who breaks first, and that’s usually me [laughs]. And just me guessing if Anthony’s had his lunch before this scene, because that’s going to affect our energy going into it. Real men eat! [laughs]

A: [laughs] One of my favourite scenes is the one on the cargo plane in the trailer. I find that to be so funny because the Winter Soldier is trying so hard to be my friend and I’m so over him and the idea of him.

There were a couple of exciting cameos in episode 1, you guys do not disappoint, can you tease any other cameos down the track at all? Are there more coming?

A: We don’t know, we haven’t seen the completed show yet!

Okay, interesting…

A: [laughs] Interesting…

S: Surprises are surprises!

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres on Disney+ tonight.