Anthony Mackie talks about his role as Falcon in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ opening late Thursday
The 35-year-old actor describes a failed stunt and feelings about playing a superhero of color on the big screen. Marvel’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ starring Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans opens late Thursday. By Ethan Sacks
Strapped to a four-point harness and suspended 15 feet off the ground, actor Anthony Mackie briefly felt like he was flying on the set of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — costumed as the heroic Falcon.
But that feeling was quickly replaced by panic as the stunt crew hoisted him up 70 feet and let go.
“I was supposed to land next to Chris Evans and take three steps before I ran into a parked van,” Mackie told the Daily News from the stable perch of an eighth-floor balcony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “I’m coming in and I’m looking at Chris and he’s looking at me like ‘Dude, you’re going to die.’ The fear in his eyes made me freak out. … I couldn’t stop. I knocked Chris over and just smashed into this van.”
The 35-year-old product of the Juilliard School may not have stuck that particular landing, but he’s in rarefied air as a major milestone in the superhero genre.
While Wesley Snipes’ “Blade” and Michael Jai White’s “Spawn” have roots in the pages of comic books, Falcon is the first true costumed crusader of color on the big screen.
Mackie’s team had been campaigning directly to Marvel since “Iron Man” blasted off in 2008.
“We would call and write letters after ‘The Hurt Locker,’ saying we would love to be a part of the Marvel Universe,” says Mackie, who pitched another hero, the Black Panther.
“I thought it was a no-brainer for there to be a black superhero movie in the time of superhero movies. And it got to the point where we harassed them so much, they went, ‘Don’t call us anymore, we’ll call you.’”
Marvel Studios kept its word. The next thing he knew, he was being fitted for that cursed harness that left him with a pinched nerve in his back. Now, the moment is here — the action flick opens late Thursday.
Mackie’s older brother is a comic-book nerd who briefed the actor on the importance of the character introduced by Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan in 1969 as a bridge to the civil rights movement for the relatively vanilla Captain America.
And if Mackie didn’t appreciate the history, co-star Samuel L. Jackson could remind him.
“I was a product of segregation and I just knew that’s how the world was in my mind,” says Jackson. “The idea if it was going to be a superperson, he wasn’t going to be a person of color. They didn’t even have black villains in the books.
“When ‘Star Wars’ happened, I realized how important it was to my friends and their kids,” added Jackson of his own role as a barrier-breaking Jedi in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
“Then I started to understand more about what the necessity was to have characters like that in the films that would make people feel better.”
Now that he’s fully healed, Mackie, who splits his time between homes in Brooklyn and New Orleans, is campaigning to join the cast of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
This time, he’s holding out for a Falcon jet.
“I feel like Batman is the luckiest rich kid in the world,” he says, laughing. “Flying without a jet is not for the faint of heart.”