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What Is Armor Wars? Marvel’s New War Machine Movie Explained

War Machine’s upcoming feature film, Armor Wars, is inspired by the Marvel Comics event of the same name. The comic book story was centered on Iron Man, but the live-action version will focus on Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes instead since Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is dead in the MCU. In September 2022, Armor Wars was repositioned from a Disney+ series into the first MCU film with Rhodey as the main feature.


Plot details are also a bit slim for now, though Don Cheadle did provide some Armor Wars updates at the 2022 D23 Expo. Curiously, Armor Wars isn’t the only upcoming MCU project tied to the legacy of Iron Man, who met his end in Avengers: Endgame. Riri Williams will make her debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in November 2022, and her spinoff show, Ironheart, will shine even more light on the character – a teenage girl who ends up with Stark’s tech. Armor Wars, on the other hand, will send War Machine on a mission to stop Stark’s armor from being misused.

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Related: She-Hulk’s Ending Can Set Up An Armor Wars Reveal

Since the announcement of Armor Wars and Rhodey’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier appearance, it’s become apparent that Marvel isn’t done with Iron Man’s closest ally just yet. This is good news because, for a while, it was unclear what Marvel intended to do with Rhodey in Phase 4. Moreover, though War Machine was in Marvel’s original “Armor Wars” story, Iron Man was the main character in that story. That being said, the movie may stay close to the comic’s premise.


Armor Wars In Marvel Comics Explained

There are two versions of Armor Wars in the comics (one in the 1980s and another in 2015), but Marvel’s announcements indicate that its movie is based on the original event. Running from 1987 to 1988, Armor Wars revolved around Tony Stark’s concerns about how his armor was being used by other people in the Marvel Universe. Stark reached a surprising realization when he found out that his designs were being employed by his enemies – sold to them by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2). Upset by this discovery, Stark worried that his technology would be used for evil and embarked on a crusade to make sure that no harm would be inflicted by his inventions.

With War Machine as his ally, Iron Man battled numerous armored foes in an effort to track down everyone who had access to his designs. Among those he fought were villains such as Titanium Man, Beetle, Crimson Dynamo, and an aquatic superhero by the name of Stingray. One problem that surfaced during the Armor Wars was that not all of Iron Man’s targets were guilty of what he accused them of. For example, Iron Man realized he made a big mistake when he found out that Stingray had actually invented his own armor.

Despite being wrong in ruthlessly pursuing Stingray over the armor, Iron Man’s determination didn’t waver. Indeed, Marvel’s Armor Wars movie is bound to deal with Iron Man’s MCU legacy. In the comics, Iron Man’s recklessness reached a new level when he attacked the Guardsmen and inadvertently caused a prison break at the Vault. This put him at odds with a furious Captain America, who had been forced to clean up Stark’s mess at the Vault. Things continued to get worse for Stark when Hawkeye kicked him off the West Coast Avengers team. Setbacks continued to pile up, but in the end, Iron Man and War Machine won the Armor Wars when they defeated the event’s main antagonist, Firepower. Even so, victory for the two heroes didn’t come without consequences. Stark’s actions damaged his standing in the superhero community as well as his relationships with Captain America and the Avengers.

Related: White Vision Appearing In Armor Wars Would Make Civil War Even Better

How MCU Has Used Armor Wars So Far

The MCU hasn’t done “Armor Wars” yet, but Iron Man’s potential as a villain is not an unfamiliar concept to those who have watched the Iron Man trilogy. People stealing Iron Man’s designs and using them to commit evil acts is a theme that’s been tackled more than once already. With Iron Man’s armor as a prototype, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) created the Iron Monger armor and battled Stark at the end of the first Iron Man movie in 2008. Then there was the entire concept of Justin Hammer trying to get his hands on Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor in Iron Man 2, with the government stepping in as well. Then in Iron Man 3, Stark’s main problem was his Extremis technology, which was stolen by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). This resulted in a heated battle between the two at the end of the film, which Tony recounted to Bruce Banner during their comedic Iron Man 3 post-credits scene.

Armor Wars Story Predictions & War Machine’s MCU Future

A common presumption about the MCU’s Armor Wars movie is that it will follow the basic plot of the comic book story – but with War Machine being the hero who leads the fight to keep Stark’s tech from being weaponized. Rather than being a partner to Iron Man, Rhodey will take center stage. It could be that a character like Iron Man 2’s Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) or perhaps someone entirely different will find Stark’s armor designs after his death and sell them on the black market. Once this happens, it will fall on his best friend to make sure his legacy isn’t tarnished. To do that, Rhodes will have to track down everyone who has his tech and defeat them. War Machine having to deal with multiple people who have this tech is likely what will set Armor Wars apart from the isolated incidents in the Iron Man movies.

It will be interesting to see how Armor Wars approaches one particular element of the story, which is how far War Machine will go to achieve his goal of defending Tony’s legacy. In the comics, Tony Stark crossed several lines and burned a few bridges in his efforts to stop others from using his armor. With Tony gone, the threat of Iron Man’s legacy getting tarnished may just be enough for War Machine to live up to his name in the darkest ways possible. For now, it remains to be seen if War Machine will go down a similar path as Iron Man in his own crusade. If he does, Armor Wars could send Rhodey on a collision course with the Avengers. Considering how War Machine’s armor has improved over the years, War Machine undoubtedly has the firepower to transform into an Avengers-level threat.

Don Cheadle Revealed Armor Wars Plot Details At D23 Expo 2022

The D23 Expo a few months later gave War Machine actor Don Cheadle the opportunity to give a brief update and overview of the series’ main plot and themes. Cheadle confirmed that Armor Wars is based on the original comic run of the same name from 1987-88 and that the main premise is Rhodey helping to track down Tony Stark’s stolen tech. He added that “it’s also an opportunity to take the mythology and tip it on its head a little bit and come up with different ways to tell the story,” (via ComicBook.com) which is a tantalizing glimpse into how the series can spin the story in a new direction to highlight War Machine’s hidden strengths and depths. Moreover, Cheadle also teased how Secret Invasion will set up Armor Wars when the actor spoke with Variety on the red carpet at the D23 Expo, revealing that Rhodey and Nick Fury will be at odds in Armor Wars. It seems that Armor Wars will deal with the effects of Tony Stark’s death not just on Rhodey but also on Nick Fury, which makes sense. It was Fury who formed the Avengers around Tony in the first place.

Related: Has Nick Fury’s Left Eye Healed In The MCU?!

Armor Wars Was Upgraded From A Disney+ Show To A Theatrical Feature

Armor Wars was notably upgraded from a series into a feature film at the end of September 2022, making it the first MCU movie to star Don Cheadle’s War Machine. Yassir Lester who signed on as head writer when Armor Wars was still slated as a series is reportedly still onboard for the film. That said, as no director was named for the Armor Wars movie when the announcement was made, it’s unlikely that Armor Wars can start production in 2023 as Marvel previously planned. Armor Wars could still be part of the MCU Phase 6 slate, but rather than a potential release date of fall 2024, Armor Wars’ release will likely be pushed to a much later date, possibly in 2025. However, all signs indicate that the wait will be worth it for the MCU faithful.

Armor Wars being upgraded to movie status from its Disney+ beginnings means less risk of the project suffering from poor CGI and production due to budget constraints. Marvel’s movies are generally better-funded than their shows, which is good news for Armor Wars, as any proper adaptation of the iconic comic book story arc will require more epic effects than any of War Machine’s previous MCU outings. All in all, Armor Wars should be an interesting new addition to Stark’s MCU legacy, and it could prove once and for all that War Machine is one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

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