War Machine’s day in the spotlight has finally arrived.
And honestly, it’s about time. Colonel Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes has been a constant presence on the big screen since 2008, and while he’s mainly been portrayed as a side character — namely, in his role as Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) best friend — War Machine is so much more than that. For one, he was the MCU’s first Black superhero. Two, he’s portrayed by a brilliantly talented Academy Award-nominated actor, Don Cheadle. And three, in the comics, Rhodes has long been a cult-favorite hero, who once took on the role of Iron Man himself, with some fans even preferring him to the original. Those same fans have long hoped for Cheadle’s depiction of the character to finally get a starring role, particularly after it was revealed that Marvel Studios very seriously considered making a War Machine movie (with a concept pitched by Black Panther screenwriter Joe Robert Cole) back before Iron Man 3. However, with so many Marvel projects in motion, it has often seemed that War Machine would forever be sidelined.
That all changed on December 10, 2020, when Kevin Feige announced that Marvel Studios will be producing Armor Wars, an original series on Disney+, which will see Cheadle return to the role, as Rhodes faces off against powerful forces which plan to use Stark’s technology for sinister means.
Here’s what we know so far.
Who will star in Armor Wars?
So far, the only cast member announced for Armor Wars is the star, that being Don Cheadle himself. Given Rhodes’ close proximity to the late Tony Stark, the odds are pretty decent that at least some, if not all, of Iron Man’s supporting cast will show up in at least small roles, including Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), and perhaps even Morgan Stark (Lexi Rabe). Now that Marvel has also announced a Disney+ series for Stark’s successor Ironheart, AKA Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), she is also a possibility.
If Armor Wars loosely follows the comic book storyline of the same name, it also could mean the long-awaited return of billionaire military contractor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell). Hammer has presumably been in prison since Iron Man 2, though the Netflix series Luke Cage showed that Hammer’s weapons were still being produced (and hitting the streets) during his absence. If the plot involves the military or U.S. Government getting a hold of Stark’s tech, we could also see the Hulk’s archenemy Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), the general turned U.S. secretary of state, getting involved, particularly since he and Rhodes aren’t on good terms.
From there, the rest of the cast is anyone’s guess. A couple MCU mainstays might return, or might not, and there’s certain to be a lot of new characters popping up, as well.
When is Armor Wars coming out?
Sadly, we don’t yet know when Armor Wars will be releasing. However, we do know that Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk are due to release in 2022.
The Direct has reported that filming will take place around October/November of this year, which would put the show on track for a 2023 release date.
What’s the plot of Marvel’s Armor Wars?
While it’s exciting enough that War Machine is getting his own Disney+ show, the addition of the title being Armor Wars is enough to make any old-school Iron Man fan erupt in applause.
That’s because the comics version of the Armor Wars — originally the “Stark Wars” — was one of the all-time classic Iron Man events. Written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, alongside artists Barry Windsor-Smith and Mark D. Bright, this eighties storyline saw Iron Man’s technology being stolen and sold off to figures such as Justin Hammer. Now, when Marvel Studios adapts comic book storylines, they tend to keep the broad outlines and eschew the smaller details — see Captain America: Civil War — as seen by how the MCU version of this tale will have Jim Rhodes as the protagonist, rather than the now-deceased Stark. Still, the overall trajectory of the story will likely be similar to the comics, with some nefarious bad guy — whether it be Hammer, or perhaps a previously unused villain like Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah — stealing Iron Man’s technology for themselves, and possibly producing a number of armored villains for Rhodes to contend with. This could be an opportunity for the MCU to introduce such classic Iron Man foes as Titanium Man, the Crimson Dynamo, the Beetle, and so on.
Marvel might also weave in some of the concepts they filed away for the unreleased War Machine movie, as well: in an Entertainment Weekly interview, Cheadle once said that the movie would’ve sliced open tensions between Rhodes and the U.S. government. So, if Armor Wars sees Justin Hammer sell Stark’s Iron Man designs to the U.S. military, this could put Rhodes in a tough spot, perhaps even leading to him becoming a fugitive.
For now, though, plot details are unknown. Stay tuned, as more Armor Wars news emerges.