How Don Cheadle is returning to the MCU

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..James Rhodes/War Machines (Don Cheadle)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2016
Marvel's Captain America: Civil War..James Rhodes/War Machines (Don Cheadle)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2016 /

Let’s take a look at what the Armor Wars storyline is and how Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine plays a part in the MCU version.

The Disney Investor Day made some rather surprising announcements in the Marvel corner of the House of Mouse as more updates were revealed by Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige in regards to their current film and TV slate within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of those is an upcoming original series called Armor Wars for Disney+, led by Don Cheadle as War Machine.

What is Armor Wars?

Armor Wars is based on a classic comic book and it centers on the worst fears of the great Tony Stark becoming a reality as his arc reactor and armor technology is stolen by warmongers who seek to use it for their own nefarious purposes.

The original storyline is a seven-issue arc written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton with Mark D. Bright and Barry Windsor-Smith providing the interior artwork (Layton also served as inker on the issues of Iron Man Vol.1 No.225 – No.231). It tells the story of how, after completing a training session to impress a general for the armed forces, Tony Stark discovered the armor from Carl Walker aka Force is actually based on his earlier designs of his Iron Man suits.

With the help of Scott Lang and James Rhodes, Stark manages to uncover the real culprit behind his stolen designs: Justin Hammer. It was the villain and recurring foe of Ol’ Shell-Head, Spymaster, who sold the blueprints to Stark’s corporate rival in the first place. Further investigation leads to conflict with both the West Coast Avengers and SHIELD. And, after that, the battle for Iron Man’s armor and technology well and truly begins.

Foreshadowing of the Armor Wars in the MCU

While elements of Armor Wars have been adapted into animated media such as Iron Man: The Animated Series – which ran between 1994 and 1996 – and Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the upcoming live-action show won’t be the first time it has been teased in the MCU.

Iron Man 2 drew some influence and elements of the Armor Wars story arc – particularly the aspect of the fear of Stark’s technology being replicated whether it be by the government, other law, federal and clandestine agencies such as SHIELD or, more importantly, his enemies.

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The U.S. government wished to allocate and utilize the powered armor technology for their own purposes, though Stark claimed others, at the time, were decades away from duplicating his technology – including Justin Hammer of Hammer Industries.

The sequel of Iron Man, however, ultimately drew more elements from the Demon In A Bottle story arc from the comics – which was also written by Michelinie and Layton – leaving the Armor Wars teases behind.

How does Don Cheadle fit in all of this?

For the better part of a decade, there have been rumors of a War Machine spin-off film being in development with Black Panther co-writer Joe Robert Cole once attached to pen the script. Although the War Machine persona did make his debut in Iron Man 2 and Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes has fought alongside the Avengers ever since, there has never been that solo adventure we once thought possible.

With Stark’s passing, Rhodey has the opportunity to step out of his shadow and honor his legacy in his very own series – suitably titled Armor Wars. The last we saw of Rhodey, he paid tribute to Stark at his funeral. What his duties are since Avengers: Endgame and whether or not he’s still with the U.S. Air Force and/or the Avengers (and whether or not the latter team are still together) remain to be seen.

Most likely, something dire may have happened in the MCU by the time Armor Wars rolls around. Pepper Potts is currently CEO of her late husband’s company and whatever the new threat that takes shape may be it could be beyond Potts’ control, so she may have to call upon the help of Rhodey to protect Stark’s tech from falling into the wrong hands.

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What are your thoughts on Don Cheadle leading his series on the Disney+ streaming platform? Who else do you think will appear in Armor Wars? Are you down for more War Machine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!