Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Secret Invasion.
The third episode of Marvel Studios' recent Disney+ series teased in its final moments that a Skrull had replaced former Avengers Colonel James Rhodes. The fourth installment solidified the reveal, showcasing his shape-changing replacement, Raava.
One would assume the real War Machine is sleeping nice and tight in an artificial coma. He'll no doubt wake from that slumber at some point, and boy, will he have a rude awakening.
A Heartbreaking Tony Stark Reveal Ahead?
Secret Invasion just revealed that Don Cheadle's War Machine is actually a Skrull, and it's already got fans thinking about a heartbreaking possibility in regard to his relationship with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark.
The biggest question on everyone's mind is: just how long has the real Colonel James Rhodes been MIA?
According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who made note that some previous appearances from the character might not have actually been Rhodey, the swap might have happened a long while ago.
This is where that heartbreaking part of the twist comes into play: was the real War Machine even there for Tony Stark's Iron Man when he made the sacrificial play in Avengers: Endgame?
Instead of the real Rhodey comforting Stark in his final moments, it was likely a Skrull simply acting the part to keep her cover.
Where Does War Machine Go From Here?
If Marvel Studios plays its cards right, it could orchestrate a really heavy, heartbreaking, and emotional return for War Machine.
Rhodey is going to wake up in a world where his best friend died at his imposter’s side shortly after saving existence, a Skrull invasion was (assumedly) almost successful, and now Iron Man's secrets are getting out to the wrong people. Doesn’t sound like the most pleasant situation to wake up to.
That’s not to mention his high ranking in the US Government will likely be shattered thanks to Raava’s work.
There’s a lot of interesting character work that can come out of such a big reveal—though not everyone will love the choice. Many will be quick to call out how they feel it undermines Tony Stark’s death in Endgame.
Some might even think the twist makes any previous appearance of Rhodey useless and hollow. This would include his many years under the Avengers during the blip and his integral help shortly before the fateful snap in Wakanda.
Secret Invasion is now streaming on Disney+.