“It’s a cool story and brings in some amazing characters and the Falcon is one of the things that fans are already excited about,” Mackie said. “It’s a movie that has kind of turned into a bigger-than-life opportunity for me. I’ve had these little milestones along the way and now to play a superhero and to work with people like Robert Redford, Sam Jackson, and Chris? It’s just turned into this amazing moment.”
The Falcon has been a key figure in the mythology of Captain America since the Beatles era and Mackie says that publishing heritage adds a lot of burnish to the role even if it’s lost on some younger fans. “It makes me very proud, definitely, it’s a big deal,” he says.
In the tumult of the late 1960s Marvel Comics introduced the first two black superheroes in history: the Black Panther, a noble warrior king from a wondrous African kingdom, arrived in 1966; and the Falcon, a.k.a. Sam Wilson of Harlem, made his debut in 1969 (in Captain America issue No. 117) whose fictional birth certificate makes him the first African-American superhero. Falcon won’t be making history in the same way in film — Blade, Spawn, Hancock, and War Machine are among the African-American heroes who beat him to the silver screen first — but his future might be especially bright judging by the emphasis on the character in Marvel’s recent television animation.
Over the decades in comics, the backstory of the Falcon has been revised and retooled but in the Marvel Studios universe he is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., making him a professional peer of Black Widow and Hawkeye although his sense of duty makes him less cynical and closer to the salute-the-flag sensibility of Rogers. Mackie said the film version of the Falcon is “a really smart guy who went through major military training and becomes a tactical leader, he’s not some guy that fell into this.”