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Anthony Mackie decries lack of off-screen diversity on Marvel film projects

The actor's comments come as Hollywood reckons with issues of diversity, inclusion and representation.
Image: Today - Season 68
Anthony Mackie appears on Today on Feb. 1, 2019.Nathan Congleton / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Anthony Mackie, star of the upcoming Disney Plus television series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," said in a recent interview that Marvel movies need more off-screen diversity, adding that he believed it was "racist" that "Black Panther" is the only installment in the superhero franchise with a predominantly Black production crew.

"It really bothered me that I've done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every [production assistant], every single person has been white," Mackie said in a virtual conversation with "Hamilton" actor Daveed Diggs for Variety's "Actors on Actors" issue.

"We've had one Black producer; his name was Nate Moore," Mackie said. "He produced 'Black Panther.' But then when you do 'Black Panther,' you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. I'm like, that's more racist than anything else.

"Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they're not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?"

Mackie made the comment as Hollywood reckons with issues of diversity, inclusion and representation amid nationwide protests over systemic racism. He was responding to a question from Diggs about how he was responding to this historical "moment."

The Marvel Cinematic Universe encompasses 23 released films, but only two — Taika Waititi's "Thor: Ragnarok" and Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther" — were directed by non-white filmmakers.

The franchise has lined up more diverse directing talent for some of its upcoming projects, however. Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao ("The Rider") will helm "The Eternals." Destin Daniel Cretton ("Just Mercy"), who is of Japanese descent, will direct "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

In the Variety interview, Mackie elaborated on the hiring changes he would like to see and the responsibility he believes he holds as a leading man.

“My big push with Marvel is hire the best person for the job. Even if it means we’re going to get the best two women, we’re going to get the best two men. Fine. I’m cool with those numbers for the next 10 years.

"Because it starts to build a new generation of people who can put something on their résumé to get them other jobs. If we’ve got to divvy out as a percentage, divvy it out. That’s something as leading men that we can go in and push for," Mackie added.

Disney, which owns Marvel Entertainment and distributes content set in the so-called MCU, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mackie, 41, made his MCU debut in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." He plays Falcon, also known as Sam Wilson, who inherits the mantle of Captain America at the end of "Avengers: Endgame." He will reprise the role in the TV series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," alongside actor Sebastian Stan.

The actor's credits also include "8 Mile," Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and the Oscar-winning war drama "The Hurt Locker."