Over the course of 22 movies and more than a decade of non-stop film production and development, it's inevitable that some ideas for entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe never came to pass.
Among those were projects like Runaways and Inhumans, which ended up migrating to television and/or streaming with various levels of success. But also left behind at some point was a movie centered around Colonel James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, best friend to Tony Stark/Iron Man and dedicated military man turned Avengers member.
Don Cheadle, who took over the role in 2010's Iron Man 2 (after Terrence Howard originated it in 2008's Iron Man), discussed what a potential War Machine movie might have been about in an interview with EW (via Slashfilm).
"We kicked it around a bit," Cheadle says. "There was definitely going to be a lot of tension between his job as a military man and his allegiances to the code that he swore an oath to uphold, versus the changing world. I think they probably would have run afoul of each other a little bit, but I don’t know if he would have been a straight fugitive, or if he would have become decommissioned. But there was definitely going to be some tension between those two worlds."
Some of those ideas certainly have made their way into the films that Cheadle has appeared in. In Iron Man 2 and 3, he walks a delicate line between his loyalty to the armed forces and his friendship with Tony. In Captain America: Civil War, he sides with Tony and the government in supporting the Sokovia Accords, which puts him at odds with Cap and the other superheroes. That allegiance costs him the use of his legs when he is badly injured in the fight at Leipzig Airport.
By the time we next see Rhodey in Avengers: Infinity War, however, he realizes that the need to have all hands on deck against Thanos supersedes the Accords, and he blatantly disobeys a direct order from Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt) to arrest the Avengers when they return home ("well, that's a court martial").
“The world has changed for him," says Cheadle about Rhodey's evolution. "The world has changed for everybody. Once space opened up, and once Thanos came into play, there’s a whole new stratum of rules."
Rhodey did survive the Snap at the end of Infinity War, but it remains to be seen whether he makes it unscathed through the events of Avengers: Endgame. If he does, there's always the chance that he could carry on as War Machine — or even don the Iron Man armor himself if Tony doesn't make it (a prospect that shouldn't surprise comic readers).
Do you think War Machine has been well-served by the MCU so far, or should he have gotten his own movie? Would you like to see a standalone film starring Rhodey as part of the next phase of the MCU?