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What Really Drew Anthony Mackie To His MCU Role As The Falcon

Since 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Anthony Mackie has portrayed Marvel superhero Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, aka the new Captain America. The character has appeared in six Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and starred in the Disney+ limited series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," which ended in his claiming the mantle of Captain America. He'll be getting his own solo adventure as Cap sometime in the future. Mackie brings toughness and empathy to the role. His speciality is playing men who are tough, but care about others — and not just their family, but their entire community, which can range from fellow soldiers ("The Hurt Locker") to all Americans (he's Captain America, after all).

Mackie has had a really interesting career. When he was young, he was a student of theater. He studied the great playwrights like Shakespeare and Chekhov, learned kabuki and clowning, and got serious actor training at the Juilliard School. He broke through in film as Eminem's battle-rap nemesis Papa Doc in the 2002 film "8 Mile," and has appeared in two Best Picture winners, "Million Dollar Baby" and "The Hurt Locker." He's always working, starring in sci-fi movies and shows like "Altered Carbon," "Synchronic," and "Outside the Wire," and appearing in supporting roles in dramas like "Seberg" and "The Woman in the Window." He literally does it all, and doesn't limit himself to one type of project, a philosophy that has guided him in his career and drew him to the role of the Falcon in the first place.

Being a superhero is fun

In an interview with Canadian men's magazine Sharp, Mackie explained that the guiding principle of his career is that he always wants to enjoy himself. "As an actor, I've never worried about being pigeonholed, but I [have] worried about getting bored," he said. "When my friends and I would put on plays, we'd put on plays because it was fun. I've never wanted to get in a position where acting wasn't fun."

And when the opportunity to play a superhero came along, it looked like fun. "When I watched 'Batman' as a kid, it looked like Jack [Nicholson] was having fun as the Joker. It looked like Danny DeVito was having fun as the Penguin. Michael Keaton was definitely having fun as Batman." So Mackie wanted to join in on the fun. He's been having a great time ever since.

In the interview, Mackie also talked about the increasing representation of women and people of color on screen and behind the scenes in the MCU. "Now, if you look at a Marvel set, there's a growing number of women and people of color in positions of power," he said. "[And] there are a lot of changes happening in the Marvel Universe with so many characters — so many female characters, so many characters of different races and backgrounds — being brought to the forefront." He said he thinks Phase Four is going to be particularly exciting because it will address grounded and realistic everyday issues, as seen in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," in which Sam struggles with the idea of becoming an avatar of America as a Black man who knows all too well about America's racist history. 

The MCU is evolving in Anthony Mackie's fun and thoughtful image.