When Iron Man 3 premiered in 2013, Marvel gave fans a completely new style for War Machine's look. The armor now had a red, white, and blue paint job, adapting the Iron Patriot suit from the comics. In the film, Rhodey explained to Tony that the design was intended to give off a more friendly, patriotic look for the Air Force Colonel's U.S. sanctioned missions. However, a recent photo from a Marvel Studios concept artist has revealed that Iron Man 3 almost took War Machine's look in a much different direction.
Don Cheadle's War Machine almost had a unique look in Iron Man 3. Ryan Meinerding, a concept artist and Marvel Studios Head of Visual Development, recently revealed an unused concept art illustration for War Machine on his Instagram.
Meindering stated in his caption that this was an "unused War Machine design from Iron Man 3," and that the artist always liked the "...contrast between matte and gloss metallic surfaces in this one."
WHAT THIS MEANS
The armor has a much sleeker look than War Machine's Iron Man 2 design. This look keeps the red eye and arc reactor lights, and looks more similar to Tony's earlier Iron Man designs. Perhaps this was a stripped down version of Justin Hammer's War Machine add-ons. The armor also sports the Air Force logo on War Machine's arm, as well as other military markings and identifiers along the suit, resembling other manned military vehicles such as fighter planes and tanks.
It is interesting to see how this War Machine design completely takes away the Iron Patriot armor and instead remains truer to the character's grey-scale comic-book suit. Meinerding did not reveal when in the film this design was intended to be used, so it cannot be said for sure if this was the suit Rhodey would have worn throughout the whole film or just for a certain sequence. Maybe the character was not supposed to sport the Iron Patriot armor at all in certain versions of the script. This unused look would definitely have created more visual continuity between Iron Man 2's design and Iron Man 3's, perhaps leaving open an opportunity for the film to show just when the character's Iron Patriot change occurred.