Buried within Men’s Health’s excellent interview with Captain America (aka the Falcon, aka Sam Wilson, aka Anthony Mackie) is the revelation that Mackie almost played a very different character in the MCU - the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.
It seems impossible to imagine now, especially following Ben Kingsley’s intensely unique take on the character (would Mackie have played a washed-up pensioner with a drinking problem?), but we’re sure Mackie would have nailed the part.
Of course, Men’s Health is assuming Mackie would have played that version of the Mandarin, forgetting that Guy Pearce also played the part, which probably would’ve been the more likely role Mackie was up for.
Still, the failed audition led to a meeting with Joe Russo, and the rest is history.
“He has charisma, but he also has the ability to convey integrity in a way that very few actors can,” says Russo. “And there’s a level of trust between him and the audience.”
@MensHealthMag it’s always been a dream of mine to be on the cover of Men’s Health. Thank you for giving me the task of being “Captain July/August”#legday#TeamMackieKicksAss#💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/JWJVe3aUgD
— Anthony Mackie (@AnthonyMackie) June 26, 2019
That trust doesn’t necessarily go both ways between Mackie and Marvel, their insane secrecy levels meant that Mackie didn’t discover he was playing Falcon until two months before production on Captain America: The Winter Soldier began.
But he’s proud to have played the part. “Growing up, I’d always loved Falcon, because he was a comic-book hero who was black who didn’t have ‘Black’ in the title,” he says. “He stood on his morals. He stood on who he was.”
He also wasn’t told he was taking over from Chris Evans as Captain America when the decision was first made three years ago. “We don’t want anything to leak, so we keep everything a secret from the actors, especially Mackie,” Russo says.
Of course, he’s also proud to carry Captain America’s title, and shield - even if it isn’t easy to wield. It’s unbalanced,” Mackie says.
“And it’s heavy.”