LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are the latest characters to be imagined as a couple by fans in an internet phenomenon that series co-director Joe Russo is completely okay with.
The act known as "shipping," when fan communities imagine and depict characters in a relationship, usually happens between two characters that share a strong bond like Captain America (Chris Evans) and his best friend The Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan).
In the past, same-sex couplings have occurred in fandoms for Supernatural and again in the Marvel cinematic universe with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Sometimes referred to as "slash" pairings, fans will cite the subtext evident in the characters interactions with each other as the reason why they would eventually come together.
While promoting Captain America: Civil War in China, Russo explained how he was cool with fans shipping together the two heroes and how they have every right to do so.
"People can interpret the relationship however they want to interpret it," Russo said. "For us, we've always interpreted the relationship as two brothers. They're very close characters, they have a relationship with each other that is very deep. The bonds between the characters are very strong. That's what motivates the storytelling."
"These are both characters that came from nothing," he added. "Captain America was basically an orphan, and Bucky's family took him in... When he was asleep for several years, he lost everything that was dear to him. And when he took the serum and became Captain America, he gave away a large part of himself for a patriotic cause. So, you have a character who is searching for the only thing that he has left from his past... and that's Bucky."
The director also clarified that despite the way he views the characters, that the films will never outright deny any fan theories. "People have interpreted that relationship all kinds of ways, and it's great to see people argue about it what that relationship means to them," he said. "We will never define it as filmmakers, explicitly, but however people want to interpret it."