Don Cheadle on What That War Machine Movie Would Have Explored
Don Cheadle almost starred in a solo War Machine movie, and here's what it would've been about. James Rhodes has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the very beginning, but it wasn't until 2010's Iron Man 2 that Cheadle first played the part. He took over the role from Terrance Howard in the sequel, and has remained in the role ever since.
The superhero gig has seen Cheadle reprise the role four times since he made his debut, but none of them have seen him take on a leading role. Rhodey has still received a decent amount of character development in these supporting roles, as he became a true member of the Avengers, was paralyzed, and still found a way to be a hero. However, there was a point in time when Marvel Studios was considering giving him the starring treatment. A script was written by future Black Panther writer Joe Robert Cole, and now Cheadle is opening up about what could've happened.
During an interview with EW, Cheadle was asked what a War Machine solo movie would look like and be about. The film would've taken place after Iron Man 2 establishes him as a hero, but likely before his eventual return in Iron Man 3. Now thanks to Cheadle, we now know that War Machine would explore the tension that rises between Rhodey's two different lives.
There was definitely going to be a lot of tension between his job as a military man and his allegiances to the code that he swore an oath to uphold, versus the changing world. I think they probably would have run afoul of each other a little bit, but I don’t know if he would have been a straight fugitive, or if he would have become decommissioned. But there was definitely going to be some tension between those two worlds.
If this movie did come in Phase 2 of the MCU, it sounds like War Machine would've been the latest film to dive into politics. This was a successful direction for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to take, but the angle with War Machine would be very different than a collapsing system. The possibility of seeing the ramifications of an active member of the military operating outside of his jurisdiction just because he's got an armored suit is an interesting one. It actually could've served as a great building point to Captain America: Civil War, to show exactly how the government and military feels about superheroes.
Unfortunately, this concept never made it further than the development phase thanks to how Iron Man 3 developed. Now that Cheadle has joined Cole in publicly talking about the concept, it's not clear if there's any interest by Marvel Studios to use this story moving forward. A solo War Machine movie feels unlikely at this point, but there is possibly an even better landing spot for a solo War Machine project in Disney+. The streaming service will be the home for limited series' starring Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Vision, and Falcon and Winter Soldier. We don't know if War Machine will survive Avengers: Endgame or not, but Disney+ could give Cheadle and Marvel the opportunity to explore this story either way.