James Rhodes is a Marvel Comics
character created by David Michelinie and Bob Layton first appearing in Iron Man
#118 (March, 1979). Stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War
, then Marine combat pilot
Lt. Col. James Rupert Rhodes first met Iron Man after his helicopter was shot down by Viet Cong rocket fire during one of his tours of duty. Iron Man himself, fresh off escaping his captors with a suit of armor made in a cave, with a box of scraps
, encounters Rhodes. Together, they defeat the Viet Cong and fly to safety in a stolen helicopter.
After the war, playboy billionaire industrialist
Tony Stark, who secretly was Iron Man all along
, thanks Rhodes for saving Iron Man and offers him a job as Stark's personal pilot. Rhodes initially declines, but after trying other career options, including being a mercenary
, he eventually takes Tony up on the offer. He also becomes the chief aviation officer.
Tony and Rhodes become close friends to the point where he becomes one of Tony's/Iron Man's secret keepers
and given the nickname "Rhodey". When Tony was battling Obadiah Stane for control of his company as well as his own issues with alcoholism, Rhodey became Iron Man for a brief time. As the shellhead he successfully battled against Iron Man's Rogues Gallery
and became a founding members of the West Coast Avengers
(though they thought it was Stark at the time). Issues including headaches caused by the armor because the helmet was only calibrated for Stark during long-term use
and being gravely injured in a bomb attack by Stane forced Rhodey to give up being Iron Man.
He became Iron Man a couple more times during his time at Tony's new company, Stark Enterprises, but only temporarily. When Stark seemingly dies, Rhodey takes over running Stark Enterprises and becomes Iron Man once again. This time he uses the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, a silver and black suit with a mix of laser guided munitions, ballistic weaponry, a flame thrower and repulsor and unibeam technology used in other versions of Stark's armor. Designed for all-out warfare, the armor was nicknamed "War Machine". After discovering Tony faked his death
, Rhodey quit the company. Tony told Rhodey to keep the "War Machine" armor stating that the armor always belonged to him (with it properly attuned to Rhodey's brain patterns of course). After which, he decided just to call himself War Machine while he wore the armor.
Rhodey and Stark would make-up and break up several more times with the former sometimes going solo or joining a separate cause from the latter. Eventually he would rejoin the West Coast Avengers, this time as himself using the War Machine armor. He would also join the Secret Defenders
and Force Works (A reorganizing of the West Coast Avengers). He would also retire, only to join up with The Crew
—without Power Armor
at his disposal—after his sister was killed by a powerful street gang. Eventually, he returns to superheroics and is currently a member of the Secret Avengers
. In 2014 he took up the identity of Iron Patriot, paralleling Iron Man 3
Ever since he started wearing the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, War Machine has been featured in media outside of the comics. His most notable appearances were in the Iron Man
films, played by Terrence Howard in Iron Man
and Don Cheadle
in Iron Man 2
, Iron Man 3
, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron
FilmVideo GamesWestern Animation
- War Machine Vol. 1 (1994)
- U.S. War Machine (2001)
- U.S. War Machine 2.0 (2003)
- War Machine Vol. 2 (2009)
- Iron Man 2.0 (2011)
- Iron Patriot (2014)
Not to be confused with the future War Machine Video Game
Tropes associated with War Machine include:
- A Friend in Need / Friendship Moment: In Secret Avengers, his military friend Phil Coulson, who's recently been recruited to SHIELD and is working as part of the Secret Avengers asks him to help them, despite what they're doing going beyond what's reasonable or right, citing that Rhodes never let them down when they were in the military. Rhodes replies that this is what he does, and tells Coulson to tell him where they need him.
- Ace Pilot: Whether it be a plane, jet, chopper, or a flying suit of armor.
- Anti-Hero: Traditionally a idealistic soldier, but was an Unscrupulous Hero in the past.
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Inverted as Tony wore the prototype of the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit first and that Rhodey wasn't any more Darker and Edgier when he wore the Iron Man suit. Also inverted as Iron Patriot because he's definitely saner and more straight-up hero than his predecessor, Norman Osborn.
- Badass Normal: Like Tony Stark, Rhodey can handle almost any threat until he can suit up.
- Black Best Friend: To Tony Stark. To a lesser extent, he's also this to his former West Coast Avengers teammates, especially Hawkeye and Mockingbird. He's notably disgusted by Maria Hill not only not informing the team that Mockingbird was stuck behind enemy territory, but that she also actively hid this fact from them, prompting him to quit the Secret Avengers team.
- Blood Knight: "Sometimes the world needs a war machine"
- Canon Immigrant: Not Rhodey himself, but him being Iron Patriot, was introduced in Iron Man 3, and in the comics he inherits the identity from Norman Osborn in 2014, taking up the Iron Patriot armor on behalf of the government.
- Clothes Make the Maniac: Whenever he (or Kevin O'Brien) wore Tony's armor for too long due to the armor's neural-interface controls were only calibrated for Tony Stark's brainwaves.
- Colonel Badass: His rank in the military is Colonel.
- Contagious Powers: Infected by Iron Man.
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: As Iron Man while working for Circuits Maximus and Stark Enterprises.
- Costume Copycat: When he replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man.
- Crapola Tech: The "Ex-Wife" bunker-buster warhead from Iron Man 2
- Cyborg: Around the time of the Civil War, but during the Dark Reign, his brain was put in a cloned body making him normal again.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Rhodey acts as one to the Iron Patriot drones.
- Five Rounds Rapid: In his origin story, Rhodey's first reaction to a strange metal man lumbering out of the Vietnamese undergrowth was to whip out a rifle and try and shoot it.
- Friendship Moment: In Iron Man issue 184, James Rhodes and two other guys were working on creating their own tech company, they were getting ready to leave for California. Tony Stark came up asking for a job. In the past few months he had lost his company, lost access to his money, gave up being Iron Man and is homeless. Not only that but he had only spent a week being sober. Tony was afraid that he would be rejected for what happened. But Rhodey and the others promptly accepted him.
- Just a few issues later, Rhodey is going nuts because he's starting to fear that Tony wants the armor back. It doesn't help that Tony's built a prototype suit, though Tony insists it's "therapy". At first, Tony thinks it's simply the suit's interface not being properly synched to Rhodey, but Rhodey's headaches keep coming back, and he finally goes on a rampage. Stark has to suit up in his outmatched prototype to try to calm him down, and manages to use everything he knows about the Iron Man suit to temporarily disable Rhodey's suit. Tony then takes off his suit, telling Rhodey that he doesn't want the job back, and unfreezes Rhodey's suit. Rhodey gets up... and shakes Tony's hand.
- Gatling Good: A gatling gun on his armor's left shoulder as a default. When he had the Stanetech Armor he can add more way more.
- Hand Blast: Whether it is coming from a repulsor blast from his palms or bullets from the guns on his wrists.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: He can create an endless amount of weapons and ammunition from his armor.
- In-Series Nickname: Rhodey and in the first season of the '90s Iron Man cartoon, Jimmy.
- Jet Pack: More like Jet Boots but, thrusters and repulsors of the armor allow him to fly really long distances.
- Legacy Character: To Iron Man. Took the War Machine identity some time after Tony resumed the Iron Man role. He is set to take over the identity of Iron Patriot from Norman Osborn in 2014.
- Man on Fire: After donning the old red-and-gold armor to escape an AIM-infected space station (Iron Man issues 215-216), Rhodey discovers the hard way that the armor's seals have been damaged as he and Tony reenter the atmosphere. Tony has to cradle Rhodey and use his own Silver Centurion suit as a heat shield to keep Rhodey from being killed, and Tony is able to get Rhodey medical attention as soon as they reach civilization. Rhodey managed to recover from his burns, but the incident left him unable to don the armor again for a long time.
- Military Superhero: Personnel of the US Air Force and War Machine.
- More Hero Than Thou: At least one issue of Iron Man where Rhodey knocks Tony out and wears the armor himself. Sort of subverted in that when Tony wakes up, he immediately goes out in a spare suit and arrives just in time to save Rhodey's massively outclassed butt.
- Bear in mind, Tony had been using remote-control armor because he didn't want Rhodey to have to face down the Mandarin, not to mention Fin Fang Foom and his Makluan dragon buddies; while Rhodey didn't want Tony to get himself killed in battle, since his nervous system was rapidly deteriorating at the time. In the end, the two of them end up working together with the Mandarin to stop the dragons.
- Moveset Clone: Tony and Rhodey in the Capcom vs. Whatever video games. (In the sprite-based games, it's not uncommon for War Machine to be a straight recolor of Tony's Modular Armor.)
- Muggle Best Friend: To Tony (who is a Mutant somewhat) in the Ultimate Marvel universe.
- Walking Armory: War Machine is a Powered Armor version of this trope (as especially seen in the film version). Note that the regular Iron Man armor is already stuffed with miniaturized weapons; the War Machine suit is overflowing with them...and some of them are not so miniaturized; the iconic feature of War Machine is a shoulder-mounted Gatling gun. Many versions of the War Machine armor also have a second turret on the other shoulder with a multiple missile launcher on it. The same is also true of his incarnation from Iron Man: Armored Adventures, if not moreso.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: In his case, it's "When all you have is an electric minigun, a missile box, and a crapload of other guns".
- Where Da White Women At?: Rhodey has had two important interracial relationships: the first was with Rae LaCoste (which was broken up by his parents), and the second is with Carol Danvers (the current Captain Marvel).
- The Worf Barrage: The "Ex-Wife" against Whiplash. It was a dud.