In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie joins the sprawling Marvel superhero universe as the Falcon, Cap’s high-flying partner in crime fighting.
Just don’t call him a sidekick.
“The Falcon isn’t what Robin was to Batman,” Mackie, 35, said during a recent visit to Miami to promote the film, which opens Friday. “They are equals who happen to team up together. Chris [ Evans], Scarlett [ Johansson, who plays the Black Widow] and I form a team in the movie. I didn’t want to have any jokes or one-liners, because those can get in the way of the audience believing these characters are people. I wanted it to be more true to the story and the relationship.”
Although the action is still the main attraction, The Winter Soldier is more plot-driven and complex than previous Marvel movies (adding a touch of class is Robert Redford as a maybe-he-is or maybe-he-isn’t villain). But although Mackey has appeared in everything from movies to TV shows to Broadway, he says a comic-book movie is in many ways harder than other kinds of productions.
“This movie was harder than Hamlet,” he said. “Theater and dramas are easy for me, because everything is built for you. It’s all there. In this movie, there were scenes where I had to act to a tennis ball. I have to believe this guy has superpowers. The reality you have to buy into as an actor is 10 times less real than in other kinds of projects.”
Mackie, who is a conditioned athlete (he played one of the murderous bodybuilders in Pain & Gain), says he originally intended to go the Tom Cruise route and do all his own stunts for the movie. But after a couple of hair-raising shots that required him to swing at a high altitude suspended from cables, the actor decided to let the professional stuntmen do the bulk of the dangerous stuff.
“We do these movies because they’re so much fun,” he says. “I’ve lived a life of fortune. I get to say, ‘Oh, I’m jumping off a building today’ or ‘I’m setting myself on fire today.’ But then the reality hits and brings you back down to Earth. That stuff is best left to the pros.”