Before he ever started filming "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," Anthony Mackie made it clear he was ecstatic about portraying Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon on the big screen. Unlike some of his increasingly wary co-stars, the "Hurt Locker" star was still on cloud nine about being part of the Marvel Universe when we spoke about the movie a few weeks ago. And why shouldn't he be? Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have fashioned an origin story that's infinitely superior to the Falcon's comic book beginnings. Something, Wilson noted, the company has been trying to fix for decades.
"Marvel has done something very unique and beautiful with the character of Sam Wilson," Mackie says. "They have worked consistently over the past 50 years to get him right. A lot of characters you just try one time and just let them fall by the wayside. So I was very proud to bring him to the screen."
Introduced in the Captain America comic series way back in 1969, The Falcon was one of the first African-American heroes in comics. Unfortunately, he was also burdened with a stereotypical origin story. All you need to know is that at one time Wilson had a criminal past as a gang member and (sigh) pimp. Happily, Sam Wilson in the Marvel cinematic universe doesn't come close to that cliche. Instead, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) strikes up a kinship with Wilson when he discovers his running partner is a former Iraq and Afghanistan veteran working in the Washington, D.C. area counseling soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. And, refreshingly, the Russos don't burden Wilson's character with this aspect of his life. It's just part of who he is today and Mackie found it integral as to why Rogers and Wilson would so quickly become friends.
"One thing I learned doing research there was this Vet I sort of focused on that was online and one thing he said that kind of affected me was as a military veteran, once you have been to the breaking point you are a work in progress and you are constantly working for progress," Mackie Says. "And something I wanted to show with Sam and why I think he and Steve kind of became kindred spirits an friends so quickly was he recognized the inner turmoil in him as a Vet. So being a counselor you can help people because you realize that you are broken. It's a constant struggle on how to repair yourself. How to get back to square one. When you look at the Falcon and what's so great about it is that with the PTSD and soldiers coming back now, a lot of us just don't know what to say or what to do or how to interact. I feel like with this movie, with Sam it gives you an idea to be a helping shoulder."
Mackie has actively campaigned to appear in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and while nothing has been confirmed the expected blockbuster's long shooting schedule certainly makes it possible. It begs the question one is compelled to ask anyone who is still breathing at the end of a Marvel movie: "Have they told you if you'll be back?"
"Y'know, the way the movie ends 'Captain America 3' is a possibility. The way the movie ends 'Avengers' is a possibility. You never really know," Mackie admits. "I know they have movies planned four movies down the line. I just don't know how I fit into them. I know they want to use him again. I know they want to weave him into the fold. I just don't know how."
For more on Mackie's thoughts on portraying The Falcon watch the interview embedded at the top of this post.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is now playing nationwide.