“We knew from the beginning we wanted to position this as a very, very modern superhero show,” said Malcolm Spellman, creator, executive producer and writer of the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees Sam Wilson/Falcon and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier team up on a global adventure.
The show also tackled a number of relevant social issues including race, privilege, nationalism and the mistreatment of veterans.
“These characters are dealing with what regular people are dealing with,” said Spellman, who was accompanied by stars Anthony Mackie and Carl Lumbly in a panel for Deadline Contenders TV. “We knew that with the conversations we wanted to have, the best way to do that is if a character embodies something and the fans can see your intentions, but they’re seeing it in a drama that’s playing out on screen.”
The series marked a significant shift for Mackie’s Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, who finally took over the Captain America shield as originally intended by Steve Rogers. Getting to that point proved challenging for Sam, who wrestled with his own identity and how the world perceived him.
“The idea of Sam Wilson and his reality, those are things that I realize and feel every day, not only as a black man but as a black father,” Mackie shared about how he related to Sam and his journey.
“It was very exciting every day going to work and knowing that I was doing something that I feel like nobody else has really done,” he added. “As shockingly contemporary and relevant as this show is, I don’t know if any other actor has had that experience or that opportunity to go to work and tell his story in the life of his character.”
Lumbly plays Isaiah Bradley, a Black war vet and Super Soldier who endured decades of imprisonment and experimentation. For the role, Lumbly dug deep into the history of ihe Tuskegee Experiment, where Black men unknowingly were infected with syphilis for a 40-year spanning study.
“In playing Isaiah, I felt the horror of what took place and the triumph of an individual who not only survived it, which is the triumph, but also has information about it that gives him a perspective that no one else can have,” Lumbly said.
“There is no life without pain,” he added. “There is no such thing as safety, and yet we live our lives hopeful for the best and dealing with whatever we find. I just feel that that’s inspirational.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.
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