BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — For Anthony Mackie, landing the role of the Falcon in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" meant more than inking his dream deal with Marvel.
"When I heard I got the role I broke down in tears," said Mackie in a recent interview. "I realized two years from that date some little brown boy was going to be at my door in a Falcon costume on Halloween. When I was a kid I didn't have that. It wasn't like I could get asked, 'Who do you want to be for Halloween?' and say Shaft. Being the Falcon is monumental."
Working with Marvel has been a longtime goal for Mackie, though he imagined playing a villain, not a superhero. "I wanted to be like the Joker and get my Heath Ledger on," he said. "I would send Marvel an email, like every four to five months. I was calling saying, 'I'll work for free.' About two years ago they sent me a letter saying, 'Don't call us, we'll call you.' I was like 'Damn — Marvel mad at me.'"
Roughly six months before filming began on "The Winter Soldier" in April 2013, directors Anthony and Joe Russo offered Mackie a role in the comic-book adaptation.
"It was epic," recalls Mackie, who admits he didn't know much about the character Sam Wilson, who becomes the Falcon, one of the first African-American superheroes in a mainstream comic.
"I read up on him and immediately got into the gym," he added with a laugh. "I thought if I am wearing that much spandex I have to be in shape."
When "The Winter Soldier" hits theaters Friday, it will likely become the role for which the 35-year-old Mackie is most known. But it was his portrayal of a bomb disposal team sergeant in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning war thriller "The Hurt Locker" that paved the way for mainstream success.