Captain America: The Winter Soldier is well on its way to being the year's first blockbuster, and among the names of its A-List stars like Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford, it's easy to pass over lesser known actors such as Anthony Mackie, whose character plays second fiddle to the Evans' titular Captain America. However, as he does the interminable press rounds for CA:TWS, Mackie has been quietly standing out as a voice for minority representation and for being an all-around good human being.

The first thing to know about Mackie is that he plays The Falcon (alias Sam Wilson), a character new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which CA:TWS is a part. The Falcon has a venerable history in the Marvel Comics continuity, including having the distinction of being the first mainstream American superhero of color. Mackie has made it known that he's aware of this, and he owns it. In multiple interviews, Mackie has discussed the importance of superheroes of color, both to himself and to the next generation of POC:

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"[The Falcon is] the first African-American superhero. It makes me feel all the work I've done has been paying off. I have a son, nephews and nieces, and I love the idea that they can dress up as the Falcon on Halloween. They now have someone they can idolize. That's a huge honor for me."

Moreover, not only does Mackie recognize the importance of racial representation, but also that of gender. In reference to Scarlett Johannson, the female lead in CA:TWS, he said:

"Scarlett does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don't care if they make 20 bucks, if there's a movie you're gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, 'cause little girls deserve that. There's so many of these little people out here doing awful things for money in the world of being famous. And little girls see that. They should have the opposite spectrum of that to look up to."

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The fact that he cares so much that everyone gets a superhero of their own is just so amazing to me. Not even Johansson, who portrays Black Widow, arguably the most visible female superhero right now, has had as much to say about the importance of women in these kinds of film roles. Mackie doesn't have to be this outspoken about how much representation matters, but it seems to be a role he has inadvertently taken on with as much relish as any movie part.

And speaking of good things that Mackie does, he features in one of the best celebrity anecdotes I've ever read (and being up to date on actor anecdata kind of my hobby). As he said in his own (hilarious) words:

"There's this craft store called Michaels. Look, my sister knits, and she goes to Michaels. So my sister called me and she's like, 'Oh my god, I'm at Michael's, picking up yarn. You have a poster at Michaels.' I'm like, what? She's like, 'There's a poster, there's a Falcon poster at Michaels. I'm like, 'Holy s**t!' She's like, 'I'm gonna come and pick you up, and we're gonna see your poster in this store.' So she picks me up and we go to Michaels.

We go in, and I see the poster and I'm like, 'Oh, this is….' She's like, 'I know, I know.' I said, 'I'm gonna sign these posters.' I was like, 'That would be amazing, you buy a poster and it's like, actually signed by the Falcon.' Like, it would blow my mind. So I go to the front, I buy a Sharpie, I run back to the back of the store. And she's like, 'I'm gonna take a picture of you signing it.'

I'm in this store and I'm signing all the posters. The manager comes out, he's like, 'Hey, whatcha doing?' I was like, 'Oh man, I'm signing these posters so when people buy 'em, they're signed.' He's like, 'Well, people are not gonna buy 'em if they're signed.' And I was like, 'No, no, no, it's cool. I'm pretty sure there won't be a problem.' And he goes, 'Yeah, but it is gonna be a problem, you're messin' up my inventory.' And I'm like, 'No, my man, trust me. I mean, I'm the Falcon, that's me!' And he goes, 'Yeah, right. You're gonna buy those posters.' I said, 'What?' He's like, 'You're gonna buy all those posters or I'm gonna call the police.'

He rolls up all the posters and goes to the front of the store. And I had to buy like 60 Falcon posters that I signed in Michaels. So that's kinda how — I'm just enjoying it. Man, I mean, there's so many bad things that happen to us as entertainers and actors, that I feel like, when something good happens, you should take full advantage of it."

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I like you, Anthony Mackie. I hope you stick around for a while. Now excuse me, there's a Michaels store in New Orleans I need to track down.

Image via http://robertiveanuke.tumblr.com

Top image via Getty.