Before suiting back up as the Falcon as part of the new Avengers, Anthony Mackie became a member of another super-team: the A-list ensemble of the politically charged film “Our Brand Is Crisis,” whose ranks included stars Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton and executive producer George Clooney. And politics have been at the core of several of Mackie’s projects of late, from his upcoming turn as Martin Luther King, Jr., to, as he explains to CBR, “Captain America: Civil War.”
Expressing his enjoyment of the Falcon’s current controversial comic book adventures, Mackie says his take on Sam Wilson in the next Marvel Studios blockbuster is one that will also explore modern political realities, why he finally felt like he was in the right frame of mind to take on the role of MLK, and the intangible rewards found in playing a Hollywood super hero.
CBR News: You’ve been working on a lot of films with political themes lately, and you’re playing Martin Luther King Jr. for “All the Way” next. What can you tell me about that experience and what you needed to know going in to represent him in the right way?
Anthony Mackie: I’ve been offered the role of Martin Luther King a bunch in different projects. I’ve always turned it down because I felt I wasn’t ready, and it never really exemplified the Martin Luther King that I felt I knew. When I read this script, I really felt like it was a Martin Luther King that I grew up knowing.
I feel like, if you look at the background and all of the specifics about Martin Luther King, he wasn’t a pushover. He wasn’t a guy that was taken lightly by the men around him. I had never seen that in a movie about Martin Luther King. When I read this, it was something that I felt I could bring to life and do with dignity and do him some justice.
How relevant are the politics of “Captain America: Civil War” to things that are going on today?
Very much so. I feel like “Captain America” is all about the ups and downs of the society that we live in today. It’s really genius how Marvel can take fictional characters — superheroes at that — and then take the politics of today and wrap them all together and make you believe and buy into it.
You got in trouble for your joke about campaigning for Donald Trump, and a couple days later, Sam Wilson — the comics’ Captain America — gets in trouble for being not conservative enough.
Was that funny to you?
I think it’s very funny. I think every time I read the new Marvel comic book and everything that’s going on with my character, it’s informative. And I feel like the court of public opinion is never at a lack for judgment.
What do you love most about being able to play Sam Wilson this moment in time, when that character’s really blowing up big, between what’s happening in the comics and what you’ve done with him in the movies? What’s great about taking that character to the next level?
I think the amazing thing about the character of Sam Wilson is seeing kids find themselves in that character. When I meet a kid, or even an adult, and they say, “Oh, my God — I was going through this, or I was dealing with that, and when I read the comic book or I saw you in the movie, it made everything make more sense,” or, “I feel like I can do that, now.” It’s kind of icing on the cake.