“Captain America: Civil War” marks the fourth film where Anthony Mackie has suited up to play the high-flying hero Sam Wilson, aka Falcon.
“It’s a lot of fun coming back to him because it’s kind of like summer camp,” the 37-year-old actor says. “What’s really dope is you circle back around to people and you see how they’ve changed; you see how you’ve changed. And with Sam Wilson, what’s really cool is with every movie he’s really evolving into his own character.”
Falcon plays an integral role in “Civil War,” as a friend of Captain America’s at a time when the hero needs all the friends he can find. The Avengers, as well as some recent additions to the Marvel universe — Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man — are divided on a philosophical rift of whether superheroes should be controlled by the United Nations.
Another new addition to this cinematic universe is Redwing. In the comics, he’s an actual falcon with which the hero shares a telepathic link. The film takes an ultramodern turn — Redwing is now a drone.
amNewYork spoke with Mackie about the film, which opens Friday.
Were you excited to get Redwing?
[Laughs] It was great, man. When I first heard about it, one of the producers told me, ‘You’re going to have Redwing in this movie, and he’s going to be a drone.’ And it was so funny because I was always hoping that they would actually give me a bird [expletive] sitting on my shoulder the whole time [laughs]. Just to be ridiculous. No, I’m really excited about it. I like the technological aspect of the movie. They’ve kept true to the character, but they did it in a 21st-century type of way.
The film deals with this very big philosophical question that divides the heroes. What’s your take on that? Where would you fall?
Well, I think it’s interesting the question that they’ve chosen to ask with this movie, and I feel like it’s very timely if you look at the society that we live in today with gun control and the right to choose and all that stuff. It’s interesting that this movie can be made about superheroes that has the same feeling as far as present day society. You know, I’m a big believer in free will. If you want to do something in a certain way, you do it in that way, as long as you’re not harming other people. I don’t think it’s the government’s job to maintain or control your everyday free will.
This movie had a lot of battles and fight choreography. Were you up on ropes for a lot of this?
It was actually a lot of fun. I have a great stuntman, so my whole thing is just letting him do all the [expletive] [laughs]. I gave up in [“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”]. I was like, “I’m going to do all of my own stunts; Tom Cruise does his stunts! I’m going to do my stunts!” I did one week of stunts. I was like, “I’m never doing that [expletive] again.”
You have really great on-screen chemistry with Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, who play Cap and Winter Soldier, respectively. What’s it like between you three?
That’s pretty much how it is in real life. It’s funny. That’s the type of stuff that they started to add to the movie because they can see how well we work together and how much we appreciate and respect each other’s work. It would be different if we were just a bunch of pretty guys with long blond hair and we were lucky to be in a movie because we had a lot of muscles. But if you look at Chris and if you look at Sebastian, they can actually act. So it’s more of a mutual respect thing. And we just make fun of each other and give each other [expletive] literally every time we’re in the same room. And we’ll gang up. Like it will be me and Sebastian against Chris or Chris and Sebastian against me. It’s hilarious the way it shakes down. That’s the type of stuff seeing that, they just — you know a lot of that stuff wasn’t scripted. We just improv’d and they left it in the movie.
In the comics right now Sam Wilson is Captain America. Do you have your designs on the shield there?
[Laughs] You know I would never turn it down. It would be a huge honor. It would be amazing to wake up one day and be Cap. But I love doing these movies with all these guys. I would hate to have to sacrifice my time with my friends to be the lead of the movie.
You were the first to meet Paul Rudd. In this one you have Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther. How was it bringing in these new heroes, but also new actors in?
It’s a lot of fun to see people on their first Marvel movie because all of us were there at one point. And everybody just handled it like a champ, man. You know, I feel like the great thing about Marvel is they don’t cast for any other reason than your ability as an actor. I think that says a lot about the type of movies they make and why their movies are so good. I feel like you look at somebody like Paul Rudd or Chadwick, both of them have damn good resumes. And they’ve worked with some damn good directors. So, it’s fun. It’s always fun to add a new character to the fold.
There are a lot of Falcon products and toys. Do you get excited seeing yourself immortalized?
[Expletive] Yeah, man. Hell yeah. I feel like if anybody says that they don’t get excited, they’re a damn liar. It’s cool. A friend of mine sent me a picture the other day from Target. And there was like a big thing of me in Target. I’m like, “That’s amazing!”
Is there a favorite item you have sitting on your dresser?
My Hot Toys Falcon. It’s like two feet tall. It’s crazy how amazing it is. When I got that I realized I had made it. I can’t wait to see the one for this new wardrobe.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Well, right now I have this HBO movie I did coming out called “All the Way,” where I played Martin Luther King and Bryan Cranston played Lyndon B. Johnson. So that will be out May 21.
What does it mean to play MLK?
It was kind of life affirming. I feel like if you look at somebody like Martin Luther King, he really revolutionized everything in our society, how we live today, every aspect of our society and changed it. I feel like he not only focused on African American rights, but he focused on women’s rights, he focused on many different people. … So it was a huge blessing to basically portray the savior of human rights.