As it turns out, there's was a lot to gain for Anthony Mackie for bringing the pain to his last film, said screenwriting partners Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Mackie starred opposite Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in the quirky crime caper "Pain & Gain" for director Michael Bay last year, and based on their experiences with the actor on that project, scribes Markus and McFeely knew they had the perfect Sam Wilson/Falcon for their then-upcoming film "Captain America: The Winter Solider."
"Hell, we wrote the part for Anthony," McFeely, along with Markus, told me in a recent interview. "Sometimes we write for a particular actor just to make it easier on us, sometimes we tell people who would be great, and sometimes no one wants our opinion. Anthony was our first choice to play the role the whole time, and fortunately he was everyone else's first choice. Of course, we had written for him before because he was in 'Pain & Gain.' We'd like to think we're in the Anthony Mackie business."
Also having written the first "Captain America" film, Markus and McFeely were versed in the ensemble feel of the Marvel movie universe, and knew very well that any given character had to be ready to step up when ready. Mackie, they said, embodied the strength to make Sam Wilson/Falcon a full-fledged character when he was called up.
"We want to say with all the characters, 'That guy could have his own movie,' 'She could have her own movie,' and so Sam really needed to be a fully-fleshed guy with a past and a future," Markus explained.
Needless to say, Mackie is thrilled with what the screenwriters came up with.
"Sam Wilson is just a kick a-- character. It's such an honor to play him," Mackie told me in post-production interview.
Mackie said he's especially thrilled with the set of wings bestowed upon him by Markus and McFeely, as well as co-director brothers Anthony and Joe Russo.
"The flying aspect of the character is unreal. The first time I saw any footage of it was at (San Diego) Comic Con and it was beautiful," Mackie enthused.
Mackie, Chris Evans and company continue to soar at the box office with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." No. 1 at the North American box office for the three consecutive weekends since its April 4 release, the film has made more than $203 million domestically, and nearly $600 million worldwide.