Out of every MCU superhero we’ve seen till now, James Rhodes aka War Machine is the most underused character of all time. He has been in the MCU right from the beginning. Iron Man 1 used him well as a supporting character and Iron Man 2 gave him a sizable role by making him a big part of the action. But then The Avengers ditched Rhodey. He could have been a support during the final fight. He could’ve done the same in Iron Man 3, Age of Ultron, Infinity War & Endgame. But the only film that really gave Rhodey something cool to do was Civil War. And now, he could finally get major recognition in the MCU through 3 different plot lines. Let’s see how Rhodey’s future could pan out in the MCU.
Very recently, Don Cheadle was interviewed by The A.V. Club and he revealed the story of how he was cast as James Rhodes. He said:
“I was actually at my kid’s birthday party—a laser tag party—and I got a call from my agent, and they said, “Hey, so I want to connect you to these Marvel guys. They want to talk to you, but they want to offer you the part.” I don’t think it was [Kevin] Feige. I don’t know who was on the phone. But they said, “Hey, this is the role. We want you to do this. It’s a six-picture deal.” I was like, “What?! Oh, uh, okay…” And I’m trying to do the math. I’m like, “That’s 11 or 12 years. I’m not sure.”
What this story tells us is that Cheadle’s contract with Marvel ended with Avengers: Endgame. For any future appearances, he will have to resign a new contract. Marvel could easily end his story behind the scenes as they’ve got plenty of other characters to focus on. But they’ve also got this new streaming service that is going to support every character who wouldn’t ever get a solo film in the MCU. A War Machine solo movie was in early works after Iron Man 2, but that plan didn’t get executed. Now Marvel is giving recognition to the supporting heroes of the MCU by giving them their own big-budget TV shows on Disney+. Rumor has it that they are going to do the same for War Machine as well.
If a retirement is in works for Rhodey, then it’d be through a series or 2-3 future appearances. It won’t be without bringing the character on screen. That is not the Marvel way. Actors in the past have resigned new contracts, and Don Cheadle could do the same especially when his character gets promised a bigger spotlight than before.
Just a little while back, a rumor came from Lords of the Long Box stating that we’re getting a new War Machine Disney+ series. It has been in development all along and Marvel will soon do it. What’s great about this rumor is that this series will include Riri Williams. We were figuring out a way to introduce Ironheart in the MCU and things did feel a little complicated. A War Machine series would be a perfect way to do that as he’d finally get the recognition he deserved, and introduce us to the character who could actually go on to become the next Iron Man. From this series onwards, Ironheart could go on to be a part of the Young Avengers. And, this series could also be used to bring in characters like Morgan Stark, Pepper, and even Harley Keener.
Apart from the series, War Machine could be a part of 3-4 other storylines. He could cameo in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. He could appear in Spider-Man 3 and help out Peter Parker. He could become a love interest for Carol in Captain Marvel 2, just like he is in the comics. And most importantly, Rhodey could carry out the unused story arc from Endgame. The writers had a draft where Rhodey would’ve become the Vice President of America. That could be a good use of his character in the future as a former Superhero running the country would tell us some interesting stories as the population of Supers in the country is growing on a rapid rate. Let’s see if any of these rumors and assumptions come true.