Iron Man 3 is a Tony Stark/Rhodey buddy cop movie

Marvel’s Kevin Fiege on the evolution of Rhodey and the reinvention of Iron Patriot for Iron Man 3

Don Cheadle as James 'Rhodey' Rhodes in Iron Man 3
Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in Iron Man 3

Speaking exclusively to SciFiNow, Marvel Studios boss and Iron Man 3 executive producer Kevin Fiege revealed how Rhodey became Iron Patriot, and how the character’s relationship with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) has evolved…

Talk about Don Cheadle coming back as Rhodey and where we find him at the beginning of this film.

When last we saw Jim Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, he was flying away from Tony at the end of Iron Man 2 wearing the Mark 2 suit that he had taken from Tony’s house. What we learn in the beginning of Iron Man 3 is that they’ve made an arrangement. Tony has let Rhodey have this suit; he’s using it in conjunction with the US Government.

So, at the beginning of Iron Man 3, we see that the President has asked Rhodey as War Machine to get a new paint job and take on the new moniker of the Iron Patriot in order to do American business and be the American hero as opposed to The Avengers or Iron Man himself, who is sort of a separate entity. Rhodey, being a military man, does step into that, proudly. But he’s still best friends with Tony, so he’s always giving information to Tony behind-the-scenes and I think has been doing that since he got the suit in Iron Man 2.

That relationship between Rhodes and Tony is core to the franchise and the comic books. In the Iron Man movies up to now, Jim Rhodes has always been sort of Tony’s conscience. He has been the person who has warned Tony, “Are you sure you should be doing this?”  “Are you going that way?””Why are you doing this?” In this movie, we’re embracing more of their friendship and you see why they’re best friends in this movie.

In a way it becomes a buddy action film, in the third act, where they team up. Neither of them have a suit at a certain point in the movie and they really team up in a great, sort of old- fashioned action movie way and Don and Robert have such an amazing rapport.  Don can keep up with all of Robert’s adlibs in a way that almost always ends up in the movie in the perfect fashion. So, seeing Don back is a huge pleasure and he brings a level of authority to that part; you just believe everything he says and in keeping up with Tony, it gives us that great Shane Black banter.


Talk about the Iron Patriot and the evolution of War Machine.

A few years ago in publishing, they created a suit called the Iron Patriot, which was an advanced Iron Man suit painted red, white and blue with a star on it. In the comics it’s a different character that wears it and utilises it. But we really loved that image; we thought it was a striking image. And coming off of Avengers Assemble, where you have Captain America and Captain America is such a symbol for the Avengers, we thought it would be fun if the United States wanted to have their own version of that. Of course, Captain America works for the United States, but as he’s more of an Avengers hero the US Government said, “We want our own,” which is why they take War Machine and rebrand him as the Iron Patriot.

Now, over the course of the film we learn that there was a nefarious purpose behind that. It’s a great example of how sometimes you take and stay true to a character as pulled from the comics, and sometimes the comics can be the kernel of an idea that you then flesh out and build into something else.

One of the best things about being a part of Marvel Studios is that you have the house of ideas; you have the publishing division that comes out with dozens of books a month and we flip through almost every one of those books every month and just pull things and don’t know where they could be used. But you know, a few years ago we pulled out the Iron Patriot and said, “That’s cool. Wouldn’t that be fun to play with that someday?” And you’ll see it in Iron Man 3.

Iron Man 3 is in cinemas now. Read an exclusive interview with Robert Downey Jr and screenwriter Drew Pearce in this month’s SciFiNow, and see our review of the film here.