Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins in just a few short months, with Captain America: Civil War serving as its first chapter on the promise from directors Anthony and Joe Russo that it'll deliver a "seismic shift" for the franchise. While a lot of focus has been spent on the three-quel's titular hero and whether or not one of Steve Rogers' closest pals, Bucky Barnes or Sam Wilson, could one day take over the mantle, we're soon going to start seeing "secondary" Avengers step into the spotlight.
The Russos return to helm Captain America 3 after their success with The Winter Soldier, and are already at work on their next Marvel projects, the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. If you thought Captain America: Civil War was going to have challenges in managing a massive ensemble, it's only going to get bigger from here. So what does that mean for the supporting/secondary characters like Rhodey?
Don Cheadle took over the role of James "Rhodey" Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine a.k.a. Iron Patriot a.k.a. War Hammer (from the art below) from Terrence Howard for Iron Man 2, and carried it forward through Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He'll have a part to play in Civil War fighting alongside Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man against Cap's team but the first Captain America: Civil War trailer depicted the armored hero severely wounded in action. This lead to speculation that it's this very moment which fuels Stark's motivation but that remains to be seen. We've also heard rumors of who may not live through the end of the film and who may die during the film but all we can say for certain is that for some Avengers - their future is uncertain.
Speaking with SHH during the Sundance Film Festival where Cheadle was screening his directorial debut, Miles Ahead, the Oscar nominated actor spoke about his role and future in the MCU, hinting that what we saw in the Cap 3 trailer may be as bad as it looks:
"I never know what it’s going to be and they keep their cards very close to their [chest] with Marvel. I never know where the character’s going to go, but he’s become more and more and in the next one, you'll see that what happens to Rhodey is a little bit more intense and pivotal to what happens in the rest of the stories."
"I ultimately like it when we’re there and I’m working with other actors and it’s fun, but it can be very tedious. A lot of time you’re looking at a green screen and a tennis ball on a C-stand, and it could’t be more antithetical to doing what Miles Ahead was, but you just give over to the elements and go, ‘Oh these are the toys and I’m playing with the biggest and best toys’ and we’re flying around and doing stuff that if I was ten years old, I would be having the greatest time in my life."
Given the amount of characters in Civil War, not to mention the amount of CGI used in its action sequences and every scene involving the War Machine (now dubbed War Hammer) armor, and we can see how it is very much tedious. He may not actually be on set much at all. Still, not a bad deal to be a part of one of the biggest film franchises ever, even if your face is covered up by a helm.
As for what Cheadle means about "what happens in the rest of the stories" we can't tell if that means the rest of Phase 3 or the rest of Civil War. If he bites the bullet though, perhaps he can live on as the voice of Stark's next A.I., but we hope to see War Machine live on. That heavily weaponized tank-like armor is too cool not to have around in the war against Thanos.
Are you hoping to see Rhodey return for more movies post-Civil War? Is there a future for the character up to and beyond Infinity War?
The movie stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Frank Grillo, Tom Holland, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl. Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” is directed by Anthony & Joe Russo and produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee serve as executive producers and the screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.