Marvel Studios is famous for planning its slate many years in advance. Still, the Marvel Cinematic Universe faced a major obstacle in 2020. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, MCU projects like Black Widow and The Eternals moved to later release dates. But with WandaVision up and running, Marvel is wasting no time getting back on track. In fact, another Avengers star just joined the cast of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ follows 2 former Avengers
Much of the MCU’s Phase 4 slate focuses on ushering in a new era of heroes. After all, Avengers: Endgame essentially ended the focus on characters like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans). Instead, the MCU movies and Disney+ series on the way in the next few years either bring in new faces or elevate existing ones to the forefront.
For instance, WandaVision gives stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany the spotlight for the first time. Likewise, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier gives Steve Rogers’ best friends their own story. The series largely continues the plot threads and character arcs from the Captain America films. But another actor not principally tied to that series just confirmed his involvement.
Another hero confirms his part in the upcoming Disney+ series
Don Cheadle joined the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2, replacing Terrence Howard as James “Rhodey” Rhodes. In that film, Rhodey donned one of Stark’s suits for the first time. And ever since, he’s served the Avengers and the U.S. government as War Machine. Cheadle was part of the ensemble in Captain America: Civil War. But his new role comes as something of a surprise. The actor dropped the news on BroBible’s Post-Credit Podcast.
“That’s some of the fun of the MCU, that we all get to show up in each other’s stories, and there are ways that we’re cross-platforming these characters, and they become storylines, sometimes, in the movies. And then these storylines in the movies become storylines in the shows. … This can go anywhere. It’s great. I can’t wait to get in the room with the writers and figure out how all those things [connecting Armor Wars to the MCU] happen. You know, Rhodey shows up in Winter Soldier and Falcon’s show. So it can be a lot.”
Many fans have long considered Cheadle’s War Machine one of the most underused MCU heroes. And considering the actor’s talent, more of the character is certainly welcome. Even if — as is the case with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow — this increased focus comes more than a decade after both she and Cheadle made their MCU debuts.
War Machine’s role could lead directly into ‘Armor Wars’
It does seem as if the government will be a big part of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. So in that way, it makes sense why a military leader like War Machine would have a role to play. In his discussion with BroBible, Cheadle also touched on his own upcoming Disney+ show Armor Wars. In part, the series will deal with Tony Stark’s death but a whole lot more.
“We’ve been sort of progressing Rhodey, even in the last film where he’s now up again and he’s now walking again and he’s now mobile again. So as the technology continues to develop and we keep making innovations in the suit and what happens, I imagine there’s gonna be another elevation and another way that we’re going to keep digging into that part of Rhodey. … Figuring out a way to bridge what’s happening in the comic books with what’s happening on screen in the MCU and how we’re going to make those worlds work, that’s really exciting.”
Perhaps Cheadle’s appearance on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier could even lead directly into Armor Wars. Along with their Avengers experience, Falcon, Winter Soldier, and War Machine all have military backgrounds. So the connection there is obvious. And the MCU looks more than ready to deal with the repercussions of Cap’s absence, the Sokovia Accords, and the superhero accountability it represents.