In one of very last panels of Emerald City Comicon 2015, Anthony Mackie — Falcon/Sam Wilson in the Marvel Studios’ film franchise — took the Washington State Convention Center’s main stage to answer questions from fans.
Panel moderator Clare Kramer started the session by asking Mackie about the origins of his role as Falcon. Mackie said after his breakout role in 2009’s “The Hurt Locker,” he wrote Marvel Studios asking to get involved with the franchise. “I was initially writing them because I wanted to be Black Panther,” Mackie said.
Eventually, Marvel Studios did contact him, though it wasn’t clear it was for the role of Falcon at first.
Kramer asked Mackie to compare the dynamic between Captain America & Falcon and Batman & Robin, with Mackie answering that Falcon and Cap are more equal. “With Falcon and Cap, what’s so great is there’s a mutual respect,” Mackie said. “There’s a soldier respect. What’s great about ‘Age of Ultron’ and [‘Captain America: Civil War’] is you get to see their relationship grow.”
Mackie then shared his enthusiasm for the forthcoming “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” “Remember the first time you saw a 3D movie, and got a headache, and were like, ‘What happened to my brain?’ ‘Age of Ultron’ is like that, with The Rock punching you in the face. It’s like Disneyland for adults. It’s like going to Vegas with an unlimited credit card. It’s by far the most stupendous film experience you’ll have. It’s just ridiculous.”
Moving quickly to fan questions, an audience member asked what Mackie would advise Steve Rogers to catch up on from the decades he was frozen: rock out to the Sugarhill Gang (“just once”), buy every Earth, Wind & Fire and CD, eat an In-N-Out burger and go skydiving.
A fan asked if there’s a chance the Sam Wilson of the movies will follow the Sam Wilson of the comics and take on the Captain America identity. Mackie praised his “Captain America” co-stars, and said, “To go to work with those people every day, I’m very content and happy to be Falcon, next to Captain America. It’s great to be in a great movie with a great group of people rather than let your ego say, ‘I have to be the guy.'”
“If I don’t have to become Cap to continue doing movies with Chris, I’m good with that,” Mackie continued.
A fan asked to hear about “the most ridiculous thing that happened” while filming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Mackie said on his first day of shooting, he was asked to jump off a 30-foot platform for a stunt. “The first day, I’m supposed to walk,” he said. “I’m on this platform, 30 feet in the air, and they put these wires on me. About the 50th time doing it, I say, ‘Don’t I have a stuntman?’ I look back and my stuntman has a comical mound of nachos. He’s like, ‘You’re doing good!’ That was day one.”
A masked fan asked for Mackie’s advice to aspiring actors. “I think being an actor is a very specific occupation,” he replied. “I think you have to be very honest with yourself. Acting is the only profession where people don’t say, they don’t like your work, they don’t like your clothes, they don’t like you.” Mackie made a distinction between “working actors” and “celebrities.” “If you want to be a celebrity, no matter what other people say, go after that,” he said. “But if you want to be a working actor, be a working actor. It’s about what fulfills you.”
Mackie said he loves working in theater due to the “instant gratification.”
A fan asked Mackie for his thoughts on the impact his role as Falcon has on a young audience. “It’s a huge responsibility,” Mackie said. “I do events like this because so many people become superheroes and celebrities, and they detach themselves from reality. That scares me. When I meet people, when I meet kids, that informs characters I play down the line. I tell kids, when you think something can’t happen, you think you can’t read that well, when certain people didn’t expect anything of you — I was that kid. I was the kid they wanted to put on Ritalin and kick out of school because they thought I was a bad kid.”
“I think it’s very important that little girls have representation,” Mackie continued. “That’s why I love Scarlett Johansson so much. That’s why I’m so excited they’re introducing all these female characters into the universe. That’s important. It’s to give everybody a little bit. The funny thing about movies is, growing up, I said, ‘Man, I wanted to be Superman.’ But this past Halloween, my son said he wanted to be Captain America.” Mackie said that another parent told him her child wanted to be Falcon for Halloween, but couldn’t, “‘Because, y’know.'” “I’m like, ‘No, I don’t know. What, you couldn’t find a costume?’ ‘No, you’re Black.'” “That is the problem,” Mackie said.
“We always talk about representation, but I never understood representation until that conversation,” Mackie said. “It is important to look at the screen and see you.”
A fan asked if Mackie had any stories about the prop Falcon wings. “The wings are about two-and-a-half feet long,” Mackie explained. “In the movies, they’re eight-foot wings. My biggest fear was that I would look like a pigeon.”
Kramer asked how far in the future Mackie is aware of his Marvel Studios plans. “This is how it goes,” Mackie said. “About two weeks ago, I got a call. My friend was like, ‘Yo, Age of Ultron posters out.’ Why didn’t tell me you were in it?’ ‘I’m in it?’ That’s how Marvel rolls. When you see somebody and they say, ‘We can’t tell you,’ that’s because they don’t know.”
A fan asked about Mackie’s multiple talk show appearances with Jimmy Fallon. Mackie said the two first met at an after party hosted by Mick Jagger following the Met Gala — except Mackie didn’t know who Jagger was, even as he was performing. “Who’s this strange old white dude? This is amazing! Who is this dude?”
When asked if there were any funny stories from “The Hurt Locker” set, Mackie said that the cast used “Hurt Locker” as a euphemism for diarrhea induced by being unfamiliar with the food served in the movie’s middle east filming location. “I’m happy to say [Jeremy] Renner was in the Hurt Locker more than I was.”
Mackie called working with director Spike Lee (in “She Hate Me” and “Sucker Free City”) a “huge boost of confidence.” “If he called me today to ask me to be in New York for a movie tomorrow, I would literally put this mic down and run to the airport.”
Asked about his time at the Juilliard School, Mackie told the crowd that his roommate was “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Lee Pace. “It made me a better actor, because I had to act like I liked Lee,” Mackie joked.
A fan asked if Mackie was familiar with the Milestone Media character Icon, and if so, if he’d be interested in playing him. “No, but I’m going to Google this dude,” Mackie responded. “I feel like doing another superhero at this point would take away from my Falcon-isms. And Marvel literally owns the hair on my face. Would I? Yes. Could I? No.”