The upcoming Avengers: Infinity War may be bringing back the great and the good of the MCU, but for the likes of Don Cheadle's Colonel James Rhodes, getting back into superhero mode may be harder than it first looks.
Replacing Terrence Howard as Colonel James "Rhodey " Rhodes for 2010's Iron Man 2, Cheadle has since been a big part of Tony Stark's personal life and heroic adventures as War Machine. During the events of Captain America: Civil War, where Rhodey stood on the side of Team Iron Man, the military man was critically injured and struggling to walk again. While the PTSD alone would be enough to put most people off getting inside a flying missile again - something Stark knows all too well himself after the The Avengers's Battle of New York and what he dealt with in Iron Man 3 - Rhodey is forced back into action to help deal with the threat of Thanos.
Screen Rant visited the set of Avengers: Infinity War in June 2017 where our own Rob Keyes asked Cheadle how Rhodes is coping after his traumatic experience in Civil War and whether it will come into play in the MCU's 19th movie. Remaining coy on whether War Machine will take to the skies alongside Tony's new Iron Man armor at the time, Cheadle refused to confirm or deny whether he will don the suit for another daring mission though it's seen been confirmed and put on display in the Avengers 3 trailers:
"You might see him suit back up again. [Laughs] Although that's a bit of a... that's gonna be a thing for him to put that suit back on. Last time he was in it, it didn't go so well."
As for his fall from the skies in Civil War, it sounds like Rhodey's body may be on the road to recovery even if his mind isn't, but can he put the past behind him?
"I think it's something that he's fighting to put behind him. But absolutely, it creeps up. There's innuendo. There's shots taken. There's things said. Don't want certain people behind me. [Laughs] I'm gonna keep a eye on everybody, I wanna keep that jewel in front of me, not behind me. So yeah, I think he's, like I said, I think he's negotiating this reunion and his rejoining this team."
The reference to the "jewel" is of course a nod to Vision who was the hero responsible for War Machine's incident in a case of friendly fire. The duo aren't likely to be best of buds, but with an intergalactic menace like Thanos in the horizon, War Machine and Vision may have to let bygones be bygones - not that Rhodey is the type to take that personally. He gets it.
The end of Civil War saw Rhodes struggling to walk again until some handy Stark technology came to his aid, however, he still seemed reluctant to carry on his life of saving the world. That being said, perhaps having a renowned surgeon and sorcerer like Doctor Strange on the roster could come in handy if Rhodey still needs help with his spinal injury. As Rhodes himself has said, he has flown 138 combat missions with Tony and any could be his last, so why would Infinity War be any different?
Considering that War Machine was included in early drafts of Spider-Man: Homecoming and the MCU had its own plans for a War Machine standalone movie, the character is undoubtedly key part of the Avengers lineup as Phase 3 concludes the first "book" of the MCU.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019