Anthony Mackie: Playing Iconic Black Superhero Is a Dream Come True

The actor discusses his new role as Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Anthony Mackie at the premiere of Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the El Capitan Theatre on March 13, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Listen carefully and you’ll hear a tiny Southern twang way in the back of Anthony Mackie’s voice. It comes despite 11 years of classes in acting for film, TV and stage. It breaks through his molded diction training from New York’s prestigious Juilliard School. Fragmented roots of New Orleans poke through Mackie’s vocal cords, blooming into Cajun-spicy abrasive tones that come from the down-to-earth heart of his Louisiana childhood home.

But today Mackie is a long way from the humid bayou shores of the Gulf Coast. Stepping into oversized shoes or, rather, wings of Falcon—Marvel’s first black superhero—34-year-old Mackie has flown the world hoping and preparing for a massive positive response to his appearance as Steve Rogers’ new best friend in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened in theaters Friday. 

Sure, roles beside Matt Damon in the 2011 The Adjustment Bureau and Jeremy Renner in 2008’s Oscar winner The Hurt Locker were huge. Even the risk he took playing Tupac Shakur in 2009’s Notorious was a memorable moment of his 13-year career. But none of these characters can compare to the wingspan of Falcon, the role that will likely soar Mackie to new, outrageous, skyscraper heights that span the planet and stretch far out into the Marvel universe.

The second, action-packed installment of the Captain America series, this sequel stars Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce). Updating the original comic book storyline of Falcon’s Harlem hustler roots, in this screen version Mackie is a standout Washington, D.C., soldier. Thirsty and hungry for something new, he finds himself pulled into Captain America’s cavalry while on the run from the superassassin the Winter Soldier.

In this excerpt from an exclusive video interview with the Shadow League, Anthony Mackie discusses why we need a Wonder Woman movie and why playing a superhero is a dream come true.

The Shadow League: Black superhero. That’s a big deal ...

Anthony Mackie: I think being a superhero is a big deal. I wish they would do the Wonder Woman movie. I think little girls need someone to look up to. I feel like Halle Berry being Storm was a monumental feat for young little brown girls to look up to. So I’m happy. I’m looking forward to little boys walking around as Falcon for Halloween.

TSL: You’ve been quoted as saying, “I’d love to play a superhero.” Does this mean you’ve finally made it?

AM: I think so. If I haven’t, I will have made it on April 4. Yeah, my dream getting into this business, I said I wanted to be a superhero. And I wanted to do a Western, preferably with Clint Eastwood. So when Morgan Freeman took my role in Unforgiven, I was like, “You know what? I’ll be a superhero.”

Read more at the Shadow League.

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