The surprising MCU character Antony Mackie first auditioned for

Sam Ashurst
Anthony Mackie as Falcon in The Winter Soldier (credit: Marvel)

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.

Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin in 'Iron Man 3' (credit: Marvel)

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.”

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.

Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans attend the premiere of Marvel's 'Captain America: Civil War'. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

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.”

Read more: Why Chris Evans should never play Captain America again

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.”