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Early in his career, Anthony Mackie hoped to one day become a superhero. But he likely never expected to become Captain America. But his character, Sam Wilson, just earned the title on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. For Mackie, the promotion to Captain America follows a seven-year run as the Falcon. Likewise, Sam’s journey to the shield remained just as complicated.

Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie speak at the Marvel Studios Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif.
Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie speak at the Marvel Studios Panel during 2019 Comic-Con International in San Diego, Calif. | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ expands on ‘Avengers: Endgame’

In the closing minutes of Avengers: Endgame, the movie features a brief but powerful scene between a much older Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Mackie’s Sam Wilson. After returning the Infinity Stones, Steve — driven by a run-in with his younger self — stayed behind and settled down with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). So he names Sam his successor as Captain America.

Before Sam (or audiences) have time to register what’s just happened, the credits roll on Avengers: Endgame. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier picks up from there. Hesitant to step into Steve’s shoes, Sam initially rejects the shield. But by the end of the series, he accepts the responsibility — and his new Wakandan suit — and announces to the world he is Captain America.

Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson is hesitant to take up the shield

From the beginning, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier aimed to capture the Black experience within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Everyone at Marvel took notice, for instance, of an early scene in which Sam visits a bank. The series had to plausibly build up to Sam’s decision to become the new Captain America. As Mackie told USA Today, one scene in particular was key.

“It was the training scene with Bucky, when they were throwing the shield. America struggles with acknowledgment, specifically acknowledgment for Black Americans and their contributions to what this country has become.

It meant a lot to Sam just simply for Bucky to say, ‘I never considered what it would mean for a Black man to become Captain America.’ That was the huge turning point for Sam. It was a cathartic experience, and his ability to release that pain and frustration in that moment turned that character completely on his head and moved him in the direction of accepting the idea of being Captain America.”

Albeit set in a fictional world, the scene in question takes a very sobering look at how the Black experience in the United States. And through the lens of the legacy of Captain America, Sam reckons with whether the symbol that moniker represents is worth fighting for. Despite John Walker (Wyatt Russell) and Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly), Sam suits up as the new Cap.


‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: Anthony Mackie Credits This Movie for Getting Him into the MCU

Now the character will reportedly headline ‘Captain America 4’

It was much longer, more complex route to the shield. But Sam Wilson is officially the new Captain America. And though fans might have assumed his journey would continue on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Season 2 — now named Captain America and the Winter Soldier — that might not be the case. In fact, Deadline reports that Marvel is developing Captain America 4.

No cast or crew announcements have been made just yet. But it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Mackie starring in the new movie. After all, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showrunner Malcolm Spellman will co-write the movie. The Disney+ series already felt like Captain America 4 itself. So it will be interesting to see where Spellman goes with the upcoming movie.