Don Cheadle’s Colonel James Rhodes has been in the MCU almost since the very beginning. During that time, Rhodey joined the Avengers as the armored hero War Machine, and also suffered an injury that left him paralyzed.
Luckily, his best pal Tony Stark was around to whip him up a pair of high-tech leg braces so he could walk again. But now, Tony’s gone, having sacrificed his own life to stop Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.
Since Stark’s untimely demise, fans of the MCU (as well as characters within the movies) have been asking who will replace him as the next Iron Man. This was a legacy that Spider-Man tried to live up to but he ultimately rejected. Given that Rhodes is known for wearing an advanced suit of Iron Man-like armor, it would make a degree of sense for him to take on the mantle.
But what does Don Cheadle have to say about that?
Cheadle Says Rhodey Is His Own Character
During an interview with Extra at D23 Expo, War Machine actor Don Cheadle responded to speculation that his character would become the next Iron Man: “It’s the first I’ve heard of that, so I guess no comment.”
When pressed further on the matter, Cheadle offered the following, noting that “Rhodey is his own dude.”
“I don’t know. I mean I think that Rhodey is his own dude. I don’t think that anyone can really step into this… Tony Stark, Iron Man shoes. I think he did that as well as anyone could ever do it. But I think we’re going to learn a lot more about what Rhodey does want, and who he is, and what his sort of place, and the firmament of MCU will ultimately be. I honestly don’t know that much more than that you know.”
Cheadle added, “I know there is a future.” for Rhodey in the MCU.
The actor also discussed being scene partners with Nick Fury himself, Samuel L. Jackson in Marvel’s upcoming Secret Invasion. Throughout the MCU, Rhodey and Fury have never once shared a scene together (despite the two of them appearing in many of the same films) so Secret Invasion will be a first for both actors.
“This is the first time Sam and I have worked together. We’ve been friends for a long time but it was great to have scenes and all of my… almost all of my scenes were with Sam. So to get to go at it with Sam was a lot of fun. He’s a fun sparring partner. He’s a very fun sparring partner. We had a great time and, as I said, we’re just starting to see what that’s going to be and how that relationship will you know blossom in the future.”
Additionally, Don Cheadle spoke to ComicBook.com on where Rhodey finds himself in his upcoming role in Disney +’s Armor Wars.
“At a very different place and in a way that is something that I can’t really talk about, but it’s going to be very surprising to a lot of people. And the great thing is there’s just going to be so much opportunity to learn a lot about him, and for him to learn about himself, and for us to really, hopefully, be able to get behind what makes him tick.”
What's Next for War Machine In the MCU?
One thing that fans might want to keep in mind is the fact that after Armor Wars, Don Cheadle will have fulfilled his contractual obligations to Marvel Studios. However, the actor has also indicated that if he likes the story and the timing is right, he’s more than happy to come back and reprise the role.
Given that the MCU is now without an Iron Man, perhaps a storyline Marvel could pursue is one of Rhodey feeling a responsibility to live up to his late best friend’s legacy, although it does feel similar to what the studio already put Peter Parker through in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
War Machine has always done his own thing in the MCU, so it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that Cheadle wants to continue to be his own separate hero and not be overly derivative of Iron Man.
Not to mention that if there’s any MCU character who would try to follow in Tony Stark’s footsteps it would be Riri Williams aka, Ironheart, a brilliant young woman who builds her own set of armor very similar to Tony’s. She’ll first be seen in November’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever before jumping into her own Disney+ series.