Marvel Confirms Rhodey Is Likely a Skrull In These 6 Movies & Shows

By David Thompson Posted:
Skrull, Rhodey, Marvel Studios logo

After the events of Disney+'s Secret Invasion, it appears Don Cheadle's James Rhodes has been a Skrull in several previous MCU projects.

Following the revelation that Rhodey has been held captive while a Skrull named Varra had stolen his identity, the question quickly became: how long has War Machine been a Skrull?  

Director Ali Selim said that Rhodey not being able to walk and being seen wearing a hospital gown "points to" his replacement coming after his injury in Captain America: Civil War.

This would mean Rhodey has actually been a Skrull in six different MCU projects.

1.) Captain America: Civil War

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After plummeting down to earth after Vision's beam took out his suit's power, James Rhodes was paralyzed from the waist down in Captain America: Civil War.

This came as a relief, as for a moment it appeared that Tony Stark's best friend may be dead. Along with the relief, it led to an endearing scene at the end of the film with Tony joining Rhodey while he was going through physical therapy. 

There's some pivotal dialogue during this scene that completely changes a fan's perspective, now assuming it wasn't actually Rhodes. 

The hero mentions the "138 combat missions" he's flown as Colonel in the Air Force and an Avenger:

"138 combat missions. That's how many I've flown, Tony. Every one of them could've been my last, but I flew 'em. To the fight needed to be fought. It's the same with these Accords. I signed because it was the right thing to do."

Marvel Studios

This final scene was also part of an iconic Stan Lee cameo playing a FedEx delivery driver, and he calls Robert Downey Jr.'s character "Tony Stank."

2.) Avengers: Infinity War

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War Machine fought alongside the likes of Thor, Black Panther, and Captain America in Avengers: Infinity War. He was one of several heroes that survived the Snap and did not dust away.

This now brings into question if the real James Rhodes survived The Blip or not because all this confirms is that Varra didn't turn to dust.

It's crazy to think about how the story would've changed if Rhodey had actually been randomly chosen to disappear during The Blip.

3.) Captain Marvel

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In a brief appearance during Captain Marvel's post-credits scene, Rhodey is joined by Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Bruce Banner as the team tries to reboot Nick Fury's beacon to Carol Danvers.

Now this is a scene that adds further context to Varra making herself one of the team and fully embracing the role during this traumatic time in the MCU.

4.) Avengers: Endgame

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James Rhodes actually not being present for the events of Avengers: Endgame may be what's most upsetting to Marvel fans.

Don Cheadle was one of the leading actors in Marvel's highest-earning film. Moments like killing Thanos on Planet 0259-S aka The Garden, asking why not go back in time and kill baby Thanos, or heroically assembling during the final battle will all now be viewed differently.

One interesting bit of dialogue that further points to Varra impersonating Rhodey is on Knowhere with Nebula. After grabbing the orb with the Power Stone inside, Nebula says, "I wasn't always like this." This is followed by a quick response from Rhodey/Varra saying, "Me either, but we work with what we got."

What's most upsetting to many is that it wasn't actually Rhodey who saw his best friend die on the battlefield. This is a touching moment in Endgame, which is also followed by a grieving Rhodes at Tony Stark's funeral. 

This may never sit right for fans on a rewatch that Cheadle isn't the real War Machine.

5.) The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

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In the series premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Don Cheadle made a surprise appearance in one scene speaking with Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson about taking on the mantle of Captain America.

The scene centers around Wilson delivering a heartfelt memorial speech while passing on Captain America's shield to the U.S. government. 

Rhodey, in his Air Force attire, is present, and his reactions are highlighted by the camera. Afterward, as they walk through a Steve Rogers memorial exhibit, Rhodey poses the pivotal question to Sam: "Why didn't you become the new Captain America?" This question shapes Sam's storyline for the rest of the season.

This is a small moment in the MCU but one many may dislike looking back knowing this is an imposter talking to the Falcon about such a serious topic.

6.) Secret Invasion

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Looking back, it was pretty obvious from the start that James Rhodes wasn't acting as he normally does. In particular, the scene when he fires Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury in Episode 2 highlights this.

The true reveal happened in Episode 4 when Varra was shown shapeshifting into Rhodey. Based on the assumed timeline, the Skrull has been doing this for nearly a decade.

The real James Rhodes was released as a captive of the uprising Skrull regime at the end of the season finale alongside Martin Freeman's Everett Ross.

All MCU titles featuring Don Cheadle are streaming now on Disney+.

- In This Article: Secret Invasion
Release Date
June 21, 2023
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.