War Machine originally had a much larger role in Avengers: Infinity War that called for two different suits. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have already seen multiple times what Joe and Anthony Russo delivered. The final product was an exciting next step for the MCU, featuring dozens of characters, but the epic story wasn't always what it became.
In setting the stage for Phase 3's conclusion in Avengers 4, the Russo brothers had immense pressure on their shoulders to make Infinity War a proper movie on its own. Pulling this off wasn't easy as they also had to make sure the true arrival of Thanos (Josh Brolin) didn't disappoint after six years of set up. Thanos was often described as the main character of the movie, but heroes like Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, and Gamora received major screen time as well. Because of that, several other heroes were given smaller roles, but the size of those roles fluctuated throughout development. At one point, Captain America didn't arrive until the end, and now fans know how War Machine's story changed over time, too.
In the newly-released The Art of Avengers: Infinity War book, it's revealed that Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), aka War Machine, was originally supposed to have two iron suits in Infinity War. According to Concept Illustrator Phil Saunders, Rhodey's role was supposed to be much bigger:
"Originally, Rhodey was going to have two different armors in this movie. And then this ultimately got narrowed down to one armor, so the best elements in both armors were combined into one. We really wanted to give him a much more advanced look than what he had had in the previous movie to keep up a little bit with the leap from the Mark 47 to Mark 50 for Iron Man. So I went with a much more sophisticated stealth geometry and breakup of the form language. I also gave him a far more extensive package of weaponry than he had ever previously had."
The book showcases Mark 4 and Mark 5 designs for War Machine, but Rhodey never makes it to Mark 5 in Infinity War. The final design he wears in the movie, though, as noted by Saunders, is a combination of both suits. For instance, the grey camouflage is from the Mark 4 design, while the Mark 5 included "Lt Co. James Rhodes" on the chest plate. Both of these elements were brought over to live-action for Infinity War's suit, but the rest of the layout bears a closer resemblance to Mark 5.
While Infinity War didn't show Rhodey upgrade to Mark 5, he may still do so for Avengers 4. His suit was damaged but still functional after Thanos began to crush him during the climactic battle, and it appears an upgrade is coming his way. Concept art that has surfaced online for Avengers 4 signals a much bigger suit for War Machine. Since Rhodey is one of a handful of characters who actually survived the Avengers' encounter with Thanos, it's fair to assume that War Machine will get a larger role in Avengers 4 after it was reduced for Avengers: Infinity War.
- 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