The question of whether or not Iron Man 3 can effectively keep the Marvel Studios success streak following in the Hulk-sized footsteps of The Avengers appears to be answered. Tony Stark's third solo adventure has already broken records overseas and has earned mostly strong notices from critics thus far.
With Phase 2 officially in full swing, it looks like the possibilities are endless for Marvel. The company is already looking to expand its scope into the cosmic realm with Guardians of the Galaxy and has its eye on Ant-Man and Doctor Strange as Phase 3 entries. However, the better-than-expected box office return for Iron Man 3 raises the question: what about that long-rumored War Machine spinoff film?
As it happens, Cheadle himself recently appeared on the Empire Podcast and the possibility of taking his Iron Man character into his own film came up. Here's what he had to say:
"When we have talked about the [War Machine] spin-off, what the departure point might be for War Machine… [we've discussed that] it might be when he goes rogue, so to speak, and takes a mission that he believes he is morally responsible for but is against policy and does it anyway. What happens when he’s out there and he’s been dishonorably discharged but he still has the suit, or Tony makes him another suit? …
"And now he’s out there on his own too, but even worse than Tony, because now he’s a fugitive. Because if we wanted to do it, I think the best way to do it would be go darker, to take it and make it even more visceral. Sort of close to the first Iron Man, how it began. Really visceral and really realistic."
James Rhodes/War Machine has always been the by-the-book foil to Tony Stark's brasher attitude towards achieving justice. So the idea of putting that character in a position where his values are compromised (and which effectively puts him on the run from the governmental system he's sworn to uphold) sounds like it would be a smart way to dig deeper into War Machine.
Simply sending the character out on just another mission wouldn't warrant a spinoff, but his struggle to determine what's right and the need to establish a new moral code would nicely mirror Tony Stark's journey in the first Iron Man film and perhaps set Cheadle up as the eventual heir to the Iron Man title itself.
Since the beginning of Marvel Studios' efforts, Iron Man has been its flagship character and its most successful at the box office. As it currently stands, though, the future of that character remains up in the air. At this point, it's still unclear if either Robert Downey Jr. or Gwyneth Paltrow (the male and female leads of the franchise) will stick around beyond Iron Man 3, while rumors abound that War Machine will re-appear in The Avengers 2 (or even earlier in Phase 2).
Add to this the fact that writer/director Joss Whedon said fans should expect "awful" things in The Avengers 2, and it's becoming quite possible (if still unlikely) that Tony Stark, in fact, may be on his way out of the films. At the very least, it looks like Marvel is positioning War Machine as the new Iron Man down the line, as he was in the comics. After all, Marvel's slate of films will have to rotate its heroes in and out over time if the studio is ever going to get to other fan-favorite characters (such as Black Panther, for example).
Are you still hoping for a War Machine spinoff film, or should the character remain strictly a supporting player in future Marvel entries? Let us know in the comments.
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, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.