‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Star Anthony Mackie Shares How Chadwick Boseman and ‘Black Panther’ Changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe Forever

Anthony Mackie recently made history when he became the first Black actor to play Captain America. The news became official during the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a limited series Marvel recently released on Disney+. 

However, even though Mackie is the first to play ‘Cap, he’s not the first Black actor to land the lead role in a Marvel film; Chadwick Boseman earned that distinction when he was cast as T’Challa in Marvel’s 2018 blockbuster Black Panther

Looking back on the impact of the movie, Mackie says Black Panther changed the Marvel cinematic universe in a big way. 

Anthony Mackie says Chadwick Boseman and ‘Black Panther’ changed the Marvel cinematic universe

 (L-R) Anthony Mackie, John Boyega, Don Cheadle, and Chadwick Boseman at Disney's D23 EXPO 2017
(L-R) Anthony Mackie, John Boyega, Don Cheadle, and Chadwick Boseman at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2017 | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

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Mackie discussed the influence of Black Panther during a recent interview with Hot 97

“You know what’s interesting? I don’t think Black Panther changed the Marvel world,” Mackie admitted. “I think Black Panther changed the cinematic universe.”

Specifically, Mackie feels that Black Panther proved that films with Black lead actors can be just as successful financial as films starring white actors. 

“What they were able to do with that character … what Chadwick Boseman was able to bring to the screen completely changed the notion, the idea that Black films were not viable overseas,” Mackie said. 

He says Hollywood has a deep history of racism toward Black actors 

Later in the interview, Mackie noted that for many years, Hollywood executives wouldn’t cast Black actors as leads because they didn’t believe that foreign audiences would have interest in their films. 

“‘Cause that’s the lie that they’ve always told us. Where it don’t make sense to have a Black dude the lead of a movie, because if we do nobody will watch it overseas because they aren’t interested in Black people overseas. Even though Alvin Ailey is the number one dance company all over the world, hip-hop is the number one music all over the world. But when it comes to film, nobody seems to figure out that you can’t make a movie with a Black person. And they say Will Smith is a fluke, they say Tyler Perry is a fluke, Denzel’s a fluke, Samuel Jackson’s a fluke, Morgan Freeman… I’m like, ‘That’s a lot of f*cking flukes. “

Mackie believes that the success of Black Panther opened the door for not just people of color, but for women too. 

“What Marvel was able to do with Black Panther not only changed the scope for comic book movies, but it [also] changed the entire scope of the cinematic universe as we know it. So now the doors are open for more opportunities, not just for people of color, but for—we see it with women. … Women are in the game right now. 

Anthony Mackie says everyone knew ‘Black Panther’ would be a big hit

In another part of the interview, Mackie also claimed that he always knew Black Panther would be a big hit because of its intersectionality. 

“We all knew it was gonna be amazing,” Mackie said. “You can go back [to] when I first joined the Marvel cinematic universe, and I said then that the most important film that could be made at that point was Black Panther. Because you would touch every marketplace around the world and everyone would endear that character. … When that movie came out and you saw what that character was turning into, everybody knew it was something special. And casting somebody like Chad, you knew he was gonna do something special with it. 

Black Panther 2 is set to release July 8, 2022.