Anthony Mackie Auditioned for The Mandarin Before Landing Falcon Role

If you ask cans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe about Anthony Mackie's character in the franchise, they will tell you that he plays Sam Wilson aka Falcon and, as of the end of Avengers: Endgame, will be the next hero to wield the shield as Captain America as Steve Rogers officially passed the torch. However, Mackie almost didn't have the heroic path fans have seen unfold on screen. The actor originally auditioned to play The Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

In a new piece from Men's Health, it's revealed that Mackie's original Marvel audition was for the Mandarin, but his screen test was so good that despite the role going to Ben Kingsley, Mackie ended up speaking with Joe Russo and producer Nate More about coming on for Captain America: Winter Soldier.

"He has charisma, but he also has the ability to convey integrity in a way that very few actors can," Russo said. "And there's a level of trust between him and the audience."

Mackie didn't find out that he would be playing Falcon until shortly before production on Winter Soldier, but the casting is one that he was happy about. Mackie explained that he'd love the character in comics while growing up.

"Growing up, I'd always loved Falcon, because he was a comic book hero who was black who didn't have 'Black' in the title," Mackie explained. "He stood on his morals. He stood on who he was."

It ultimately worked out that not getting the role of the Mandarin was a blessing in disguise and not just because of where things have ultimately gone for Mackie within the MCU. The Mandarin ended up being one of the most controversial elements of the franchise, with the character being met with a lot of criticism as it's revealed that the man believed to be the Mandarin is actually an actor pretending to be the terrorist -- though Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige did reveal in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last month that the plot thread would be picked up in the future.

It also turns out that being kept a bit in the dark about his character in the casting process didn't end with his casting as Falcon, however. Mackie didn't find out until they were actually filming Endgame that his character would have the Captain America mantle passed on to him, something he discovered when Chris Evans shared the script with him while watching a football game at Evans' house.

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"Chris gets the look of a six-year-old kid on his face, runs away, and comes back with the script," Mackie said. "I'm reading it, and it dawns on me what's happening."

You can see Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon in Avengers: Endgame in theaters now.