Written by | Ray Cornelius

Anthony Mackie is without a doubt one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors.  From portraying a young, gay artist trying to find his way in Brother to Brother  to the tumultuous life of rapper Tupac Shakur in Notorious  to the awe-inspiring life of Olympic superstar Jessie Owens in the upcoming biopic Hands in the Sky,  Mackie has enjoyed a career in and out of Hollywood not often afforded to many of his African-American male contemporaries.

However, it’s his latest role in Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier  that is poised to take the 35-year-old actor to new heights…literally!  Mackie is starring as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon.  The character is Marvel’s first mainstream African-American comic book superhero and marks the character’s cinematic debut.  Seen as more than just a sidekick to Steve Roger’s Captain America, the Falcon can hold his own against the forces of darkness with his ability to fly above the chaos in his high powered suit equipped with wings and machine guns.

I recently caught up with the former Julliard graduate to chat about his role as the classic character and whether or not he felt any pressure from fans of the Falcon.

“When I got cast as the Falcon, my biggest thing was not trying to please anyone. My greatest goal and I feel my highest achievement will be next Halloween when all of those little brown boys show up dressed as the Falcon,” stated Mackie.  “We’re adults and I can’t help you through your issues but I can help that 12-year-old through his. If a little kid has to sit back and look at the Falcon and say, ‘I want to be like him,’ well then I would say that my job is well done.”

Although Mackie wasn’t a big comic book reader as a kid growing up in New Orleans, he was the director’s first choice to play the iconic Falcon for the movie.  Also a veteran stage actor, he went on to further explain why a character like the Falcon, who was first introduced in 1969, is still relevant to today’s youth and gave his definition of a true hero.

“As the African-American population evolved in America, so did the Falcon. That’s what’s so commendable about Marvel is that they could have just let the Falcon go away. However, as we evolved through Civil Rights and Blaxploitation, so did he,”  said Mackie.

“My definition of a hero is anyone who stands up for what they believe in, whether it’s the smallest thing or the biggest thing. I feel a lot of times so many people bend in what they believe in to succeed and I think that in some point in time, you have to be willing to fail in what you believe in too.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier  opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow Friday, April 4.

Check out the latest trailer below:

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