Amid the sea of superheroes, supersoldiers and superspies featured in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the character who stands out is not the bionic arm menace or the star-studded hunk. It’s the one with the positive attitude and the killer wings who still makes breakfast for his friends.
An everyday guy who works at the Veterans Association, Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) anchors the movie as the only character not undergoing an identity crisis. He quickly becomes Captain America’s wingman – both on the ground and in the air – as Falcon. Donning military-invented wings, Falcon flies high in his first film incarnation.
Mackie is honored to play Marvel’s first African American superhero.
“He’s the audience’s eyes and ears into the movie because he’s a regular guy who’s now surrounded by superheroes,” he said of his character at a press day in Miami. “Marvel’s movies deal 100 percent with placing superheroes in our reality. That’s why we use minimal CGI. That’s why as the actors we did so many of our own stunts.”
Mackie is a certified skydiver and used a harness for his scenes. Only his wings were made with CGI. He practiced diving into a pool to achieve the swooping technique necessary for fluid movements.
“There’s nothing in the human nature that works like landing like a bird,” Mackie said. “You have to work on bringing your entire torso under you and bring your legs under you so you can land and then move.”
He spent his first day on set screaming as he was being thrown from 50 feet on the harness. But the tenacious actor, who emailed Marvel repeatedly over five years begging for a role, proves that perseverance pays off.
Mackie was proud of the action sequences and heavy stunt work in the film.
“It looks real because it was real,” he said.
The directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, pushed for a realistic feel to the film that these stunts provided. Mackie says getting them onboard was “genius” since they balanced gritty realism with the youthful lightness from “The Avengers.”
Mackie called the film “‘Catch Me If You Can’ meets ‘Jason Bourne’ – with a bunch of superheroes!”
Mackie felt fortunate to work with Marvel, as he knew they would make something great.
“You show up for work and it takes all the pressure off you,” Mackie said. “I know I look stupid jumping off a damn crane but they’re gonna make it look cool.”
And boy, does he look cool.
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opens in theaters Friday.