Ever since Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s been a pretty universal fan-theory that at least someone in the Sam/Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers triangle is gay or bisexual, and there are thousands of YouTube videos or Tumblr posts directing curious fans to the exact line deliveries or meaningful-seeming glances that “prove” it, but—much like with the similar fan-theories with another Disney-owned property—Marvel has so far refused to openly embrace that interpretation of its characters.
Speaking with Variety recently, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier director Kari Skogland addressed a scene in the show’s premiere in which Sebastian Stan’s Bucky laments how out of his depth he is with modern dating apps, noting that a lot of people are posting “tiger photos” and that he doesn’t get it. This, for those of us who are also out of their depth with modern dating apps, is a reference to what is apparently a common trend now in which people (mostly men) make a point to include photos of themselves posing with or near a tiger on their dating profiles. Again, men are usually the ones doing this, so fans interpreted Bucky’s line as a reference to the fact that he’s seeing dating profiles from men, and (since he said this while on a date with a woman) that means he might be bisexual.
Not so fast, says Skogland, who said in her Variety interview that the line is just a joke about “an oddity of the times” and a reference to something that wouldn’t make any sense to Bucky. “Because don’t forget,” Sogland notes, “he’s 106 years old. So he’s just confused by the whole thing.” She says they never discussed whether it was supposed to mean anything about Bucky beyond that, but she also cautions against interpreting any kind of affection between two men as being romantic or sexual in nature. She says Bucky and Sam have grown to love each other by the end of the show, but “there’s no defined sexuality to any of it.”
So she’s not definitively saying that Bucky is not bisexual, which is good, but it does seem reminiscent of the way Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker made a point to give Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron a female love interest just so nobody would come out of that movie thinking he and Finn might end up together. The good news is that there’s going to be a Captain America 4 now, so maybe there’ll be an excuse to reference Bucky’s dating life again in that one.