War Machine Is Now the MCU Character that Has Taken the Longest to Get a Solo Movie

With more than 20 movies (and counting), fans might think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enough bandwidth to give just about every hero his or her time in the spotlight. Yet, some characters still haven’t gotten the chance to fully shine. After all, it took a full decade for Black Widow to happen.

Unfortunately, not every hero lends itself to a solo movie. The Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, work best within a team dynamic. And to its credit, Marvel Studios is giving supporting heroes like Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye their own Disney+ series. But one superhero has been waiting the longest for his own movie: War Machine.

Don Cheadle at the 'Avengers: Infinity War' premiere
Don Cheadle at the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ premiere | Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Don Cheadle joined the MCU in ‘Iron Man 2’

Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle stepped into the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes in 2010’s Iron Man 2. And since then, the actor has appeared in every three Avengers films as well as Iron Man 3. Particularly in Avengers: Endgame, Cheadle’s War Machine feels like he’s come into his own. So one might think a decade in the role would warrant his own movie.

Johansson made her own MCU debut in Iron Man 2 as well. And now that she’s been called to her own spin-off, a War Machine movie can’t be far off, right? Moreover, Terrence Howard first played the character in the original Iron Man. That makes War Machine the Avenger with the longest lead-up to a solo movie, with 12 years of ongoing presence in the MCU.

Marvel Studios once considered giving Cheadle his own movie

Actually, Marvel Studios did consider a War Machine movie at one point. But that internal chatter never led to much. Rather, War Machine — like Hulk, Falcon, and a few others — was relegated strictly to an ensemble player. Fans can, however, glean some tidbits on what the film would have looked like, based on what Cheadle told Entertainment Weekly in 2019.

We kicked [a War Machine movie] around a bit. There was definitely going to be a lot of tension between his job as a military man and his allegiances to the code that he swore an oath to uphold, versus the changing world. I think they probably would have run afoul of each other a little bit, but I don’t know if he would have been a straight fugitive or if he would have become decommissioned. But there was definitely going to be some tension between those two worlds.

As it stands, the MCU has barely scratched the surface of Rhodey’s inner conflict. Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War hint at his struggle between duty to his nation and his superhero gig. But by the time fans see him in Avengers: Endgame, he’s more or less chosen the latter. An “inter-quel” set between films, much like Black Widow, could explore that.


Don Cheadle’s War Machine Deserves an Origin Story So He’s Not a Pointless MCU Character

Could a ‘War Machine’ movie still happen at some point?

Twelve years ago, Rhodey was introduced to audiences as a devoted military man and best friend to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. But he’s been through a lot since his introduction. And one of the biggest arguments against a War Machine movie — his design and “powers” are too similar to Iron Man’s — is no longer a concern.

In fact, with Tony Stark no longer part of the MCU, Marvel Studios is likely looking for a way to more directly continue the character’s legacy. Rumors about an Ironheart series indicate Marvel wants another hero to don a suit of armor. But with War Machine waiting in the wings, it seems silly not to give Cheadle a solo movie of his own.

Unfortunately, it could be too late. Cheadle has confirmed he has completed his contract with Marvel Studios, meaning he no longer has any legal ties to the MCU. That being said, perhaps he’d be willing to re-up if Marvel offered him a War Machine movie. At the very least, Cheadle — who currently stars on Showtime comedy Black Monday — is ideal for the Disney+ treatment.