When Tony Stark sacrificed his life in Avengers: Endgame, his legacy fell on the shoulders of his best friend: James Rhodes, also known as War Machine. Sadly, the character hasn't been seen all that much since then—in fact, his only appearance since 2019 was his Emmy-nominated guest spot in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The character is set to star in the upcoming Disney+ event series Armor Wars. However, with the show not making an appearance in any of the Phase slates during San Diego Comic-Con 2022, its future is unknown.
While fans wait to see the character once again, it's natural to start to wonder what could have been, particularly with a character that has as long of a history as War Machine. Well now, thanks to some newly released concept art, it's been revealed that he could have had another battle scene in Avengers: Infinity War.
War Machine's Deleted Battle
Artist Phil Saunders shared some new concept art for Avengers: Infinity War on Instagram that revealed a cut sequence for Don Cheadle's James Rhodes.
The art shows Rhodes in a virtual control center seemingly controlling his armor from afar, in which he fights Proxima Midnight in Edinburgh.
The Hulkbuster is also present in the background, suggesting that Bruce Banner's Hulk-style Iron Man suit was going to be in the same scene at some point in time.
Rhodey's leg braces would have been locked into the holographic control system.
In simple terms, War Machine would have gotten access to an upgraded version of the remote system seen in Iron Man 3, where Tony Stark piloted the Iron Man suit from a boat and rescued 13 Air Force 1 passengers.
Saunders noted that "the sequence was cut early on" but would have included a unique blend of "real and holographic action:"
"Okay, yeah, it’s been forever! Too many projects in the hopper that have blackouts on them, so I’m digging in the dustbin for unused concepts. This is one from Avengers: Infinity War, where James Rhodes is fighting the battle of Edinburgh remotely, with his Tony Stark designed leg braces locked into a holographic control system for War Machine Mk. 4. Bruce Banner would have been piloting Hulkbuster (design by Josh Nizzi) in the battle against Proxima Midnight (courtesy of Jerad Marantz and Adam Ross) and Corvus Glaive (designed by Jerad Marantz and Ian Joyner) sadly the sequence was cut early on. Still it was fun to problem solve how to depict the overlap of the real and holographic action going on!"
Was Deleting it a Good Choice?
In the finished movie, Don Cheadle's Avenger doesn't actually come into the story until after the battle with Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, when Steve and co. arrive at the compound. The same goes for Bruce Banner, who was also cut from the sequence but would have joined Rhodey's remote shenanigans.
Was it a good idea to cut it? As great as it would have been to have more War Machine, Marvel likely made the right call, especially with the film being nearly two and a half hours long already.
Infinity War already has so much going on, so the slow introduction of new players throughout the story worked perfectly. Also, while Rhodes joining virtually might have made sense, Bruce piloting the Hulkbuster certainly wouldn't have—the definition of overkill.
Many fans are still looking for more War Machine in their lives; thankfully, he's still a key player on the board. His next appearance will be in next year's Secret Invasion, and he'll be leading the Disney+ series Armor Wars, which does not currently have an estimated release window.
Avengers: Infinity War is now streaming on Disney+.