Why Anthony Mackie Playing Captain America is a Big Deal
When Falcon took over for a then-thought-deceased Steve Rogers in the comic books, the fanbase was outraged. Y’know, like fanbases do when change occurs.
Forget the fact that Captain America had died — which should have been a big deal — what people were angry about was that a black man was taking up the shield for the sake of inclusion.
“They’re stealing my childhood,” people yelled.
They must have conveniently forgotten that it wasn’t Falcon who got the shield first; it was Bucky. And no one batted an eye.
Bucky turned out to be a terrible Captain America, too brutal and dark — a rogue pretending to be a paladin. After the shield was taken from Bucky, Falcon was the only logical person to uphold Captain America's values.
The outrage was unfortunate. But I think we’re past that now. I hope we’re past it because the way the MCU handled Steve handing off the shield was inspiring. We need more of that because Anthony Mackie should be playing Captain America.
It’s good for diversity
At the end of The Avengers, there was a moment when all of The Avengers stood over a defeated Loki. Apart from a huge green guy, they were all white.
I’m not against most characters being primarily of the same race — it made more sense for Black Panther to not have much diversity due to the culture it showcased.
On the other hand, The Avengers was a movie about a group of disparate superheroes from all over the world. In a film like that, a move toward diversity is not only the right thing to do, it’s more realistic.
It’s good for the character
While Steve Rogers may age and die, the icon of Captain America and what his shield stands for will not. Like Batman’s cape and cowl, it needs to be passed on.
Anthony Mackie picking up the shield adds nuance to the character. Sam Wilson (The Falcon’s real name) is not Steve Rogers. Notably, he doesn't have super-soldier serum running through his veins. He’s going to need to adapt to a new way of fighting as the Star-Spangled Man.
The new shield-bearer also adds depth to the values that Captain America represents.
Stever Rogers’ Captain America represented the need for good people to stand up to bullies. He evoked a spirit of strength and steadfastness in the face of tyranny.
Sam Wilson’s Captain America represents equality and liberty for all. When Sam took the shield in the comics, he evoked a spirit of change to the status quo — one of encouragement and unity in the face of oppression.
This is not a separate Captain America, but two facets of the same legacy.
It’s good for America
The greatest thing about Anthony Mackie playing Captain America is the message it sends throughout our society: we are not white or black Americans— we are Americans.
Yes, each of us has ancestral cultures that make up part of our identities, but, as Americans, we should not be segregated by those differences. No, those differences should enrich us and those we share them with.
A black Captain America sends the message that, like the Sentinel of Liberty (one of Cap’s comic book monikers), there is not one side, one representation, of America. We are multifaceted yet united by our common identity as Americans.
Liberal/conservative, democrat/republican, minority/white…we’ve been divided for too long.
I hope that Anthony Mackie playing Captain America brings us one step closer to an inclusive society, where our differences are celebrated, not used to divide us.