The recent Skrull-based project shocked audiences by revealing that War Machine himself was one of the shape-shifting aliens. Not only that, but the swap might have happened as early as Captain America: Civil War.
This understandably led to plenty of backlash regarding the decision, with many fans exclaiming that it ruined key MCU scenes.
The main example used was Tony Stark's death in Avengers: Endgame, where Don Cheadle's character is at his best friend's side when he dies. It's much less impactful when audiences learn that it was actually just a random Skrull named Raava.
Rhodey's Twist Makes Infinity Wars Worse
Marvel Studios' big Skrull twist for Don Cheadle's Colonel James Rhodes probably retconned Avengers: Infinity War's final scene—making it worse.
The sequence in question is just after Thanos' Snap goes off and people start disappearing from Wakanda and the rest of the world, with Rhodey being one of the Avengers who lived to fight another day.
Rhodey can be seen wandering around and looking for his friends and heroic comrades. Then, he is seen alongside his teammates mourning the loss of half the team—though, this isn't the real War Machine, but Raava instead.
In many ways, the reveal this wasn't Rhodey expressing concern for his fallen comrades greatly hurts the emotional stakes of the shocking scene.
After all, not only does Raava lack any connection to these characters - taking away all the impact of Rhodey's reaction - but she is also actively deceiving those around her and may even be happy to see Earth's Mightiest Heroes fall.
War Machine's concerned post-Snap cries of "Sam" as he searched for the fallen Avenger suddenly ring hollow when one realizes this was not the Rhodey who likely grew close with Sam Wilson over the years, but rather an imposter.
Needless to say, the actual Rhodey has a lot of catching up to do after possibly being sedated by the Skrulls for almost a decade, meaning he missed all the game-changing events of Infinity War and Endgame.
Marvel Studios Could Adjust Rhodey's Swap
Despite this observation, it is important to note that even Secret Invasion director doesn't consider the timeframe of Rhodey's swap to be "definitive" and that it's still open for interpretation.
This gives Marvel Studios plausible deniability and the chance to change the details at a later date if there's enough uproar. Needless to say, this negative reception probably qualifies.
If it does change, Marvel will likely say that it happened after the Endgame battle—maybe Rhodey was just in the hospital for some check-ups.
As questionable as the Civil War swap is, at the very least, it'll give the character quite an interesting starting point for Armor Wars, where he is the main character. Waking up in a world where your best friend sacrificed himself to save the world from annihilation is a heavy burden, and that's only part of it.
Avengers: Infinity War and Secret Invasion are now available to stream on Disney+.