When Steve Rogers gives Sam Wilson the vibranium shield at the end of “Avengers: Endgame,” the assumption was that Wilson would take on the mantle and become the next “Captain America.”
While that assumption was ultimately true, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” showed that the transition wasn’t immediate or easy. Marvel’s latest Disney Plus series detailed Wilson’s hesitancy in accepting the shield and the immense responsibilities it came with. He explains how being Black complicated matters further — especially upon learning about the first Black Super Soldier, Isaiah Bradley.
But, in the end, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” concludes with Wilson choosing to be the next Captain America, and he acknowledges that donning the stars and stripes while being a Black man will inevitably cause some people to hate him. But he takes on the mantle regardless, because he wants to help make the world better.
With the show’s conclusion and a new Captain America, Anthony Mackie has had the chance to speak about the series as a whole and his character’s new role in the MCU.
On the Physical Nature of Being Captain America
Georges Batroc, played by retired professional mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Batroc fought Steve Rogers’ Captain America on the Lemurian Star, ultimately losing the battle.
Batroc returned to the MCU in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” to take on Sam Wilson: first as the Falcon in the series premiere and then as Captain America in the final episode.
In an interview with USA Today, Mackie acknowledged the initial physical struggles that came with being Captain America instead of Falcon:
We were doing our fight sequence and he actually punched me in the face. And I have to say, I took a full punch from Georges St-Pierre and I did not go down. Everybody saw it, they have it on tape. And then I took a full kick to the chest and I went down, but it didn’t knock me out.
It was a long day. So by the time I got to the Captain America moment, I was like, “Dude, this is the worst job. I want to go back to being the Falcon. Just leave me alone.”
Prior to taking on the mantle, episode five of the series showed a montage of Wilson running and practicing with the shield, working out and training to handle the physicality required of Captain America. Mackie also did his own training for the show.
During Mackie’s appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Colbert acknowledged the training montage and asked Mackie about any training he did to prepare — to which Mackie responded with:
Well I will say there’s no muscle suit under my suit. That’s my pride. Seven movies in, I’m like ‘I don’t want a muscle suit under my suit.’ So I had to work out every day, all day.
It was also during “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that Mackie saw his Captain America action figure for the first time, calling the toy “dope” despite it looking more like Jamie Foxx.
On Sam Wilson’s ‘Captain America’
When John Walker is introduced as Captain America in the first episode, Wilson’s disapproval of the situation is clear. He doesn’t want Walker to have the mantle, but it doesn’t make him wish he kept the shield for himself. The negative sentiment only grows as the series progresses.
After Walker murders a Flag Smasher in public, using the shield to do so, Wilson explicitly tells the Army veteran to give up the shield before engaging in a fight that also included Bucky Barnes.
Walker’s Captain America served as a stark contrast to Steve Rogers’ even after using the stolen Super Serum on himself. Wilson, however, specifically says he would never take the Super Serum, so it’s safe to assume he’ll remain an unpowered individual unlike the two people who wielded the shield before him.
Given that and his primary approach to help people, Wilson’s Captain America will be an antithesis to Walker’s. But Mackie also told Entertainment Weekly that his version will also differ from Rogers’:
Remember, he’s a counselor and he’s a regular guy who just happened to become an Avenger. There’s no superpowers, there’s no super-suit, there’s no super-serum. He’s just a guy. I love the idea of him moving through life as Captain America, as someone who brings peace and change instead of destruction and physical force.
There is also the fact Wilson is the first Black Captain America. He doesn’t have blond hair or blue eyes like his predecessors, so public perception will vary in comparison. And the recognition of that difference, as Mackie mentioned to USA Today, helps Wilson decide to take on mantle:
America struggles with acknowledgement, specifically acknowledgement for Black Americans and their contributions to what this country has become. It meant a lot to Sam just simply for Bucky to say, “I never considered what it would mean for a Black man to become Captain America.” That was the huge turning point for Sam. It was a cathartic experience, and his ability to release that pain and frustration in that moment turned that character completely on his head and moved him in the direction of accepting the idea of being Captain America.
On Finding Out About ‘Captain America 4’
On the same day that the last episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” started streaming, The Hollywood Reporter reported that a fourth “Captain America” film was in the works. The report mentioned that Malcolm Spellman, showrunner for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” would be doing the film. But Spellman played down the news in an interview with ComicBook.com, and Marvel hasn’t confirmed the report either.
Mackie is presumably set to star in the movie, but even he didn’t know about the news till after it broke. In fact, when speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Mackie said he heard about the film while at the grocery store:
The checkout guy named Dwayne, a cool cat, he’s like, “Yo, man. Is this real?!” (holds up a cellphone) I’m like, “I haven’t heard anything.” That’s what I love about working for Marvel. They call you, they’re like, “Come to L.A. We wanna tell you what’s going on.” So, I’m excited to see what happens, but I haven’t heard anything.
From portraying the sidekick in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to being a lead in one of Marvel’s first Disney Plus shows, Mackie has come a long way. So to headline a Marvel film “would be everything,” as he mentioned to USA Today:
The idea of being the title character in a Marvel movie, there’s no words to describe that, especially as a Black actor. Black actors don’t get those opportunities. And to have that opportunity, for all the work that I had to do, the 11 years of training, all the stuff that I had to do to get here, it would be a monumental feat.
Kari Skogland, director of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” recently told Cinema Blend that she would be open to working on the film and other Marvel projects if asked to.