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Even Don Cheadle doesn't get why he got an Emmy nod for his seconds-long The Falcon and the Winter Soldier cameo

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Jul 13, 2021, 9:25 PM EDT

The Emmy nominations are out, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe got a whole bunch of them — 24 to be precise. The haul confirms that the first two MCU shows on Disney+, WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, are indeed award-worthy.

Even the casual MCU fans are likely to agree that such achievement is earned... for the most part. There is one particular nomination, however, that has everyone (and we do mean everyone) scratching their heads. We’re talking about Don Cheadle’s nomination for his one-scene cameo in the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

The confusion surrounding this nod has nothing to do with Cheadle’s acting abilities. Cheadle is great as James Rhodes (aka War Machine) in the Marvel movies. His cameo in Falcon, however, is really just that — a cameo that lasted mere seconds.

Cheadle himself was confused by the nomination and expressed his feelings on Twitter, writing “thanks, well wishers. sorry, haters. agreed, 🤷🏿‍♂️ers. i don't really get it either. buuuuuuuuuut on we go ...”

Interested in those few seconds that the Emmy gods deemed worthy? Here’s a breakdown of Cheadle’s scene on the Disney+ show.

At the 12:57 mark in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s first episode, "New World Order," we get a quick shot of Cheadle's Rhodes in the crowd as Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson gives a speech about donating Cap’s iconic shield to the Smithsonian. Cheadle gives a sad smile as Mackie talks about how Chris Evans’ Steve Rodgers (aka Captain America) had mastered posing stoically.

Cheadle pops up in the crowd again at 13:09, after a few seconds of Mackie’s non-Emmy-nominated speech (which is quite good!). Here, Cheadle looks sad as Mackie recounts the events at the end of Infinity War, when Thanos blipped half of the universe out of existence. At 13:22 Cheadle comes back again, this time tilting his head thoughtfully as Mackie says that the world needs new heroes.

At 13:42 Cheadle pops up again! Mackie is talking about how the shield is a symbol, and Cheadle looks serious yet thoughtful. We get another shot of him at 13:49 looking a bit sad and disappointed. He doesn’t agree with Mackie’s decision to donate the shield.

At 14:28 we get to the meat of this chicken nugget-length of a performance. Cheadle and Mackie are talking after the speech, and Cheadle has some words to share. The two exchange some small talk and then Cheadle gets serious.

“It’s crazy that nobody’s going to be carrying the shield,” he says. Mackie deflects, and Cheadle comes right out and says what everyone is thinking: “Why didn’t you take up the mantle?”

Mackie responds that it didn’t feel right, and Cheadle concedes that the post-Endgame world is a crazy place. “The world’s broken,” he says. “Everybody’s just looking for someone to fix it. It’s a new day, brother. I’ll be in touch.”

Cheadle, however, didn’t get in touch. At least not during the remainder of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This is his only scene in the series; when Cheadle walks off-screen at the 16:12 mark of that first episode, he’s gone. The scene was a good one, granted. But so short! There was enough there though for the Emmy folks though, and so here we are — writing 300 words about a scene that lasted mere seconds.

You can catch Cheadle’s Emmy-nominated performance along with the rest of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+. The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards can be seen Sept. 19 on CBS and Paramount Plus at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.