Anthony Mackie was unveiled as the first Black Captain America in late April, and he is already experiencing the power of representation.
The 42-year-old actor explained to Variety that a teacher he knows in Homestead, Florida, caught one of her special needs students doing pull ups one day on the monkey bars: "She's like, 'What are you doing? You're gonna hurt yourself.’ And the kid tells her, 'Well, Captain America looks like me now, so I need to get in shape, if he needs my help.' And I thought that was the coolest thing."
The day after his big Cap reveal, Mackie joined A Late Show with Stephen Colbert and relayed a similar sentiment:
"It's interesting. It's humbling, really. It didn't hit me until [The Falcon and the Winter Soldier] came to conclusion Friday, and I watched it with my boys. There are no words to explain it. I remember it was 2008 when I first moved to Brooklyn, and I was walking down the street, and I saw this little kid. He had taken, like, a cereal box and cut eyes and put the cereal box on his head, like, spray-painted it blue and put an 'A' on it. "I was like, 'Yo, what you doing, man?' And he was like, 'I'm fighting bad guys! I'm Captain America!' You know? To see that little kid and think about, you know, almost 13 years later where I am now in the universe, it's really humbling and exciting at the same time. 'Cause there is that significance to little kids around the world."
Mackie estimated during his Variety interview that he has "a solid six to eight" years to play the iconic superhero because he "definitely" does not "want to be a 55-year-old Captain America."
Prior to taking the Captain America mantle, Mackie portrayed Falcon/Sam Wilson in six MCU films since 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier ('14), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man ('15), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
At the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, Chris Evans's Captain America decides to pass his mantle and shield to Sam so he can go on living the rest of his life as Steve Rogers in the past. It wasn't until Disney Plus's series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that Wilson accepts the responsibility.