LOS ANGELES, March 17 (UPI) -- The last time Marvel fans saw The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), they were saying goodbye to Captain America (Chris Evans) in Avengers: Endgame.
In a recent Zoom press conference, Mackie and Stan said their new Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, would introduce new sides to their characters.
In the series, The Falcon, Sam Wilson, returns home to New Orleans. Viewers meet his sister (Adepero Oduye) and learn more about the Wilson family's financial struggles.
"To be able to go back and dive into his backstory, his family and his surroundings only betters the character for the audience," Mackie said. "I'm excited for everyone to see the new and improved Sam Wilson."
Before he became The Winter Soldier, Stan's Bucky Barnes was one of Captain America's World War II buddies. The evil HYDRA organization brainwashed Bucky to make him the assassin Winter Soldier. Captain America ultimately broke Bucky free from HYDRA's control.
Bucky fought alongside Captain America, Falcon and the other Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. When The Falcon and the Winter Soldier begins, Bucky is in therapy dealing with his experiences as The Winter Soldier.
"As everybody knows, PTSD is not something that you're just done with," Stan said. "It's really something that one has to continue to grow with and to become better at dealing with."
The Avengers movies did not spend much time with Bucky outside of his battles against Thanos. Stan said The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finally gets to explore what happens to Bucky after he returns to society.
"I think that was scary and exciting," Stan said. "We're really finally zooming in on his quest for identity in terms of really accepting his past and re-educating himself."
Mackie and Stan said they have a similar dynamic to Sam and Bucky behind the scenes. Mackie said he and Stan are opposites, but work well together.
"There's a mutual respect, understanding [and] appreciation of that person," Mackie said. "We listen, learn and teach each other a great deal."
Stan said one of their frequent conversations during The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was about the show's tone. Head writer Malcolm Spellman and director Kari Skogland were a part of conversations in which Stan expressed concern about balancing Bucky's serious issues with a sense of comic book fun.
"Part of that was really us honing in on his sense of humor," Stan said.
The show's sense of humor comes out of Sam and Bucky connecting over their post-Endgame issues, Stan said.
"They've got different things that they're facing, but they're definitely in a similar place in terms of questions they're asking," Stan said.
When Bucky and Sam spring into action, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier challenges the superheroes further. Mackie said the show adds new elements to the flying and fighting action they performed in the movies, with less reliance on gadgets.
"It's more hand-to-hand combat," Mackie said. "It's more of us utilizing our strengths instead of something else."
For Stan, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier challenged him more than the Captain America and Avengers films.
"It feels like the action really intensified in a lot of ways," Stan said.
Marvel employed the same stunt team as the films, led by stunt coordinator Shane Habberstad, for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Mackie said he and Stan trained with the stunt team to add skills to their repertoires.
"Some of the stuff you see is us, but we had amazing stuntmen to go in and kick ass for us," Mackie said.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres Friday on Disney+.