Iron Man 3: The Story Behind Rhodey & The Iron Patriot Armor

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 25th, 2013 at 4:28 pm,

Don Cheadle Iron Patriot Armor Official Iron Man 3: The Story Behind Rhodey & The Iron Patriot Armor

Marvel unveiled Tony Stark’s gold-heavy Mark 42 armor at Comic-Con last summer, and it wasn’t long before rumors leaked the big news that he’d be commanding an army of unique and distinct suits we know as the Iron Legion. Among them are armors of different styles, even different colors (see: Deep Space Armor) but the Iron Man 3 armor that may arguably stand out the most is the new War Machine.

Iron Man 2 saw James “Rhodey” Rhodes take Stark’s silver Mark 2 armor and with the help of Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) turn it into the heavily armed War Machine. For Iron Man 3, Marvel Studios took some ideas from the comics and used them to drastically change the appearance of Rhodey’s duds into the Iron Patriot.

What lays ahead are specific plot details that can be viewed as mild spoilers so be cautioned if you’re looking to avoid learning more about the story of Iron Man 3.








In a series of Q&A transcripts with the cast and crew of Iron Man 3 shared to us by Disney, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige explains:

“When last we saw Jim Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, he was flying away from Tony at the end of Iron Man 2 wearing the Mark 2 suit that he had taken from Tony’s house. What we learn in the beginning of Iron Man 3 is that they’ve made an arrangement. Tony has let Rhodey have this suit; he’s using it in conjunction with the US Government. So, at the beginning of Iron Man 3, we see that the President has asked Rhodey as War Machine to get a new paint job and take on the new moniker of the Iron Patriot in order to do American business and be the American hero as opposed to The Avengers or Iron Man himself, who is sort of a separate entity. Rhodey, being a Military man, does step into that, proudly. But he’s still best friends with Tony, so he’s always giving information to Tony behind-the-scenes and I think has been doing that since he got the suit in Iron Man 2.”

Rhodey was noticeably absent during the Battle of New York in The Avengers and that’s because he was on a mission for Stark during that time that put him at odds against the Mandarin’s forces. This story was told in the (in canon) Iron Man 3 two-issue prelude comics where it ended with Stark and Rhodey discussing the Iron Legion. For The Avengers 2, Don Cheadle is hopeful that he’ll have a role to play.

Iron Man 3 Official Iron Patriot Armor 570x380 Iron Man 3: The Story Behind Rhodey & The Iron Patriot Armor

For now, the relationship between Stark and Rhodey is played up big time in Iron Man 3 as is the continuing idea that Rhodey acts as “Tony’s conscience” in a way. For the first time in the franchise, Feige explains that fans will finally see how and why they’re best friends, and Shane Black couldn’t be a better writer-director for that oft-referenced “buddy cop” genre film (see: Lethal Weapon).

“In a way it becomes a buddy action film, in the third act, where they team up. Neither of them have a suit at a certain point in the movie and they really team up in a great, sort of old- fashioned action movie way and Don and Robert have such an amazing rapport.  Don can keep up with all of Robert’s adlibs in a way that almost always ends up in the movie in the perfect fashion. So, seeing Don back is a huge pleasure and he brings a level of authority to that part; you just believe everything he says and in keeping up with Tony, it gives us that great Shane Black banter.”

Robert Downey Jr. adds,

“We really wanted Rhodey to be more dynamic and have a gun in his hand and really be able to match Tony in his kind of bravado and his wit, and we’ve done that. As for the Tony/Pepper storyline, we wanted to show what happens four movies later in the course of a relationship, because as Kevin Feige [producer] reminded me, Tony Stark is the only Super Hero who has cultivated and maintained a relationship with one woman over time that doesn’t go south entirely.”

Iron Man 3 Preview Tony Stark and Rhodey 570x308 Iron Man 3: The Story Behind Rhodey & The Iron Patriot Armor

When unofficial photos first revealed the blue, red and white Iron Patriot armor on set, fan speculation ran rampant, drawing connections to Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man movies (Norman Osborn wears this armor in Marvel Comics) and potential armored villains, but the most obvious guess was the correct one. The Captain America-inspired design, coupled with new weapons and a thumbs up from the government represents the new and improved War Machine. Feige explains how the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Iron Patriot came to be:

“A few years ago in publishing, they created a suit called the Iron Patriot, which was an advanced Iron Man suit painted red, white and blue with a star on it. In the comics it’s a different character that wears it and utilizes it. But we really loved that image; we thought it was a striking image. And coming off of The Avengers where you have Captain America and Captain America is such a symbol for The Avengers, we thought it would be fun if the United States wanted to have their own version of that. Of course, Captain America works for the United States, but as he’s more of an Avengers hero the US Government said, ‘We want our own,’ which is why they take War Machine and rebrand him as the Iron Patriot.

Now over the course of the film we learn that there was a nefarious purpose behind that. It’s a great example of how sometimes you take and stay true to a character as pulled from the comics, and sometimes the comics can be the kernel of an idea that you then flesh out and build into something else. One of the best things about being a part of Marvel Studios is that you have the house of ideas; you have the publishing division that comes out with dozens of books a month and we flip through almost every one of those books every month and just pull things and don’t know where they could be used. But you know, a few years ago we pulled out the Iron Patriot and said, ‘That’s cool. Wouldn’t that be fun to play with that someday?’ And you’ll see it in Iron Man 3.”

Against dozens of Stark’s suits (read our unofficial Iron Man 3 armor guide to see many of them), Rhodey needed a suit that stands out and compliments Iron Man (and sells toys) and the Iron Patriot – especially after the world has accepted Captain America’s return – is a logical path to pursue. Also, it looks awesome – check out the Iron Patriot poster to see for yourself.

For more:

Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off of his and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Stephanie Szostak, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, William Sadler, James Badge Dale and the voice of Paul Bettany.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes if you’re a fan of War Machine!

Source: Disney

Follow Rob Keyes on Twitter @rob_keyes
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  1. hmmm speaking of suits, wonder if we will see Stingray, that would be interesting as its a seperate suit using individual tech specialized for sea exploration, but could be seen in a scene with Rhodey, and it could be a tie-in to the eventual appearance of Namor(as thats what the suit is for), yet a conflict with Tony as well if we ever get an armor wars scenario…. just a thought

    • Stingray is a whole other character not related to Iron Man, it would be a little bit of a stretch for him to show up.

      • however Iron man does go after him in armor wars, and he does work for the navy, so they could show him as military branches are very competitiive, and it would send a hey, you got a guy in a suit for battle, we have a guy in a suit for real research(and could be a nice easter egg pointing towards the future appearance of namor)

  2. RDJ should have said three movies later, not four.

    • Four movies is corrent

      1. Iron Man
      2. Iron Man 2
      3. Avengers
      4. Iron Man 3

  3. Iron Man 3 is gonna kick start phase 2 in a big way it looks like. Can’t wait for Thor 2, which I’m hoping will be even better than this. Seriously, Thor 2 won’t suffer from “let’s put Thor in LL Bean and have him talk to Natalie Portman for half the movie.”

    And in all seriousness, here’s to hoping Man of Steel is better than both of them.

    • DC fan hunh? wrong news thread to be in, I have a feeling you will be lucky if its on the same level, and heres to hoping IM3, and Thor 2 are both better than Man of steel

      • Wrong. ^^^^ I’m an actual comic fan, not a fanboy poser who thinks it’s necessary to pick a side.

        • +1

        • ok sorry then, as for me, I am hoping for Silver Centurion armor!
          Amd I also have some characters like Namor, or Stingray, or Beta-Ray Bill. Well gotta wait and see

        • but…you did pick a side. you said you hope man of steel is better than both of them, hence you want the marvel movies to not be as good as superman, so, you picked a side. dont try and act all self righteous like you’re above any of this, dude.

          • No No No… I want them all to do well, but if they are all bad-ass AND Man of Steel is the best… that is the best news for any real comic book fan. DC needs the help, this isn’t about picking sides, it’s about me wanting the competition to step it up. If Man of Steel is HUGE- it makes it that much more likelier that we get a Superman/Batman movie in the not to distant future. I’m a fan of all comics, I want all movie adaptations to do well… but any REAL comic book fan knows a Superman/Batman will challenge those Avenger sales and possibly surpass them. If you’re a fan of the genre… you want that above all else.

      • Why does someone have to be a DC Fan because their looking forward to a DC Movie over a Marvel one. Man Of Steel looks like it’ll be a great Superman movie and hopefully one that successfully creates an interesting character out of him. (I hate the whole insanely overpowered Super-Human concept)

    • @ Dr. Mindbender

      In all honest, I don’t know how MoS could be better then IM3 & Thor 2. I mean, if this is the stuff they’re telling us, can you imagine what they’re not telling us???

      Plus IM3 & Thor have star power, as in real relevent stars in them, not so much for MoS, which concerns me because I want them all to do well.

      • Marvel isnt a keep secret kind of company they tell a lot and domt care about secrecy

      • Russel crowe and amy adans are star power for their gender. And costner has many fans

  4. Hey rob also the iron patriot hot toys page is up with like 12 pics of the toy. I remember you guys used to do articles on them. Looks pretty cool.

    • Just went to check them out and they look awesome! They nailed RDJ on the 1/6th scale Stark toy.

      I’ll probably hold off until they have toys based on the other armors we’ve not seen much of (Heartbreaker, Space Armor, etc.).

  5. Anyone noticed that Tony is wearing a shirt with “A.I.M.” on it?

    • Oh yes, AIM is a big part of the film. More on that shortly.

      • Had a feeling, any word on a possible MODOK cameo/Creation? that would be interesting, and please tell me they are including at least a variation of the classic AIM suits, its an essential part of their icon

    • Thats the only one they had in his size?..

      AIM Agent: “Oh. Hey, AIM shirt. He must be one of us.” Tony pulls out Iron Man gauntlet “D*mn it…”

    • I actually think this might be due to Tony being kidnapped by AIM and perhaps being experimented on in an attempt to undo the extremis virus, you can see the shirt has holes where he could have been injected with something,

      Also you can clearly see from the look of Tony this is after the scene where he’s shooting up the inside of a lab with an IM Gauntlet and a gun. Also just wanted to add that I hope the AIM workers have those weird beehive suits like in the comics.

  6. Man of steel better than iron man 3 and thor 2? Surely dc fans are idiots.

  7. @ Rob

    Great article!!

    Any update on any future Iron Man movies with RDJ, or his contract negotiations with Marvel?

  8. Heh, wow, busy day for you, Rob! How many super hero tidbits are you going to have written before the day is over?? Thanks, by the way, I always enjoy the balanced perspective in your articles.

    • Thanks, I appreciate it! One more in the works I wanted to get up today, but it’ll have to wait for sometime this weekend.

  9. Rob Keyes is the shiz!

  10. i would like to know? who was the genius behind the original design u used for the iron patriot i would really like to know the name of this great individual please and thank you