During the MCU's Skrull-centric streaming series, Don Cheadle's armored Avenger was revealed to have been kidnapped by the shape-shifting aliens, with the version fans had seen for years secretly being a Skrull in disguise.
It has been revealed that Cheadle's War Machine was seemingly switched out quite some time ago, with Secret Invasion director Ali Selim remarking evidence "points to" the swap happening at the end of Captain America: Civil War.
This Civil War timing brings to light plenty of questions, specifically when it comes to the events of the Infinity Saga-end cap Avengers: Endgame.
Four Endgame Scenes Reconned by Secret Invasion
1.) Tony & Rhodey’s Confrontation
Fans will know this sequence for its tense argument that takes place between Robert Downey Jr.s Tony Stark and Chris Evans' Captain America. After Tony comes back to Earth after three weeks adrift in space, he makes the case yet again for his "suit of armor around the world," pointing to the fact the Avengers failed.
Toward the end of the scene, Rhodey grabs Tony, something that was once read as a longtime friend reaching to help his compatriot as he is clearly spiraling. However, the reveal that this was, in fact, the Skrull version of Don Cheadle's simply cheapens the moment.
Knowing that this version of Cheadle has no history with Tony Stark means all that built-up emotional tension is gone, and the character is just doing it as it would something Rhodey would do and not Rhodey doing it himself.
2.) Rhodey & Nebula on Morag
As Avengers: Endgame sends its team of heroes on an adventure across space and time, Cheadle's War Machine is paired with Karen Gillan's Nebula and is sent back to 2014 to retrieve the Power Stone before Chris Pratt's Star-Lord can get his hands on it.
As the unlikely duo comes across the Stone on the mysterious planet of Morag, Nebula and Rhodey share a short-but-touching conversation. Gillan's Marvel hero tells the armored Avenger, "I wasn't always like this," to which Rhodey responds, "Me neither, but we work with what we got." This was always taken as Rhodey describing no longer being able to walk on his own after fracturing vertebrae during the events of Civil War.
However, the whole context of this interaction is changed following Secret Invasion's Skrull Rhodey storyline. Could this have actually been the first indication that the hero was not who he said he was? If it was, it feels a little on the nose and would be the only allusion to such a twist in anything prior to Secret Invasion.
3.) Rhodey's Reaction to Tony's Sacrifice
While some of the other moments discussed here could be brushed off, these next two genuinely feel like a slap in the face coming off of Secret Invasion. After more than 10 years together in the franchise, Rhodey gets one final moment with his best friend Tony Stark before the likes of Peter Parker and Pepper Potts come in to mourn their loved one.
Before it was revealed that Rhodey was actually a Skrull during Endgame, this was a touching scene in which no dialogue was spoken. Rhodey reaches for a dying Tony with a look in his eyes knowing that, yes, it is sad he is losing someone he considered his brother, but Tony can now finally rest.
All emotional weight is sucked out of this sequence the second Skrull Rhodey is introduced into the equation. Because this is now an alien simulating the look of Don Cheadle's hero, audiences should think of him as essentially a completely different character. So with no history between this Skrull and Tony Stark, there is almost no emotional punch where there was once one of the biggest tear-jerkers in MCU history.
4.) Tony Stark's Funeral
After his universe-saving sacrifice, Tony Stark gets a funeral march fit for an Avenger to close out Avengers: Endgame. The scene sees the entire super-powered universe gather to say goodbye to the hero that started it all.
Part of this gathering is Tony's closest loved ones, Pepper Potts, Tony's daughter Morgan, Happy Hogan, and Rhodey. During this sequence, Rhodey is seen mouthing something to Happy, as the two comfort each other. Of course, with their good friend now passed, everyone is visibly broken up.
However, this is another example of Rhodey's Skrull twist lessening the impact of an emotional beat from Avengers 4. Not only did Cheadle's hero not get to say goodbye to Tony Stark, but he doesn't even know he is dead. So the character's appearance at the funeral takes away any of that gut punch that came with thinking Rhodey was actually present to send Tony off.
Secret Invasion and Avengers: Endgame can be streamed now on Disney+.