Whether ‘War Machine’ would have been better off cloaking Terrence Howard or if you believe Don Cheadle has more than personified the cohort of Tony Stark (MEMO: He has), he has been a vital part to the Avengers in film and has been represented in a matchless fashion.
The weaponry. Alliance to the military. Commitment to serve. Rhodey was made to be more than a sidekick, but an equal match. Where Tony couldn’t be, Rhodes could. Where Iron Man was battling, War Machine came along side and thrashed the villains.
From Iron Man to War Machine to eventually Iron Patriot, James Rhodes was more than complimentary piece to the Tony Stark story. He was created to his equal in every way — stature, strength, relentless spirit to serve and protect, and an undeniable connection to his altar-ego.
Name: Lt. Col. James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes (USAF)
Creators: David Michelinie (writer), John Byrne (artist), Marvel (comics)
1st Appearance: Iron Man #118 (1979)
Backstory: In the late 70s, Tony Stark needed some depth to his character but then it was determined he needed a potential replacement. Rhodes was always his friend and connection within the military, but in 1983, Stark relapsed into alcoholism. There was War Machine to help get the monkey on his back. Then, in 1992, Iron Man was reported to be dead. There was War Machine. He’s always been the perfect equivalent.
Powers: State-of-the-art technology and military arsenal, Stark-powered suit and armor
Medium: For more than two decades, we only read about Lt. Col. James Rhodes. We knew what he was and how he looked. And then, when Black Sabbath began strumming their song in the trailer, we knew not only Tony Stark was alive on screen but his buddy was coming along for the ride. Marvel wasted no time placing Rhodey front-and-center and should be applauded for that.
All fans knew Rhodey must be in the picture, but he wasn’t a bit part like we have seen so many times on sundry X-Men creations. He was Stark’s source of reason, premise of inspiration. We all needed that and continue to do so. In fact, his innovative knowledge of Stark’s technology has to be a crucial part of Avengers: Endgame. Since he survived the snap, he’s empowered by vengeance.
Impact: Lt. Col. Rhodes had an immediate impact on Tony Stark once he was introduced to fans everywhere. He became the rationale to Stark’s impulsive attitude. Iron Man is a fiercely independent character, used to making the decisions. It wasn’t until Marvel decided to delve into his personality more that we discovered how he leans on Pepper, Rhodey, and even Jarvis to a point.
Where one is a love interest and the other is a dedicated (cybernetic) servant, Rhodey is used his orders being followed. He doesn’t kowtow to most men, much less billionaire geniuses surrounded by yes men. He allowed young men to see someone with authority act like it. Rhodes is respectful and bold, strong and understanding. All things kids in the inner city needed to see from its role models, then and now.
Culture: You see a man in uniform and you show some respect. At least you should. If you don’t, piss off. But there is something about seeing a black man with brass on his shoulders being a man of distinction and honor in the late ’70s. James Rhodes was created to be a equal to Tony Stark, in all ways sans the smugness. Oh, he’s got swagger, just not flaunted everywhere.
He is the perfect balance of what kids in the community need and what they want. War Machine is the man they need in the armor. On the outside, with all those toys, he’s everything they wanted. Iron Man “plus,” as if there needed to be such a thing, but there he is. And he’s awesome. Salute!