Path of Armor

A longtime friend of Tony Stark, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes knew the genius playboy better than most, but couldn’t necessarily relate to his carefree lifestyle.

After testing his Jericho Missile in Afghanistan, Stark told Rhodes to ride in another Humvee, which inadvertently saved Rhodes’ life and changed Tony’s forever as the Ten Rings attacked and made off with the industrialist. While Stark secretly built the first Iron Man armor to break away from his captives, Rhodes searched for him and was there when they found the escaped Tony wandering in the desert.

When Stark, in his updated Iron Man armor, attacked the Ten Rings, Rhodes was called in to evaluate the strange occurrence, leading Stark to admit he was inside the suit. Rhodes held a press conference calling the whole thing a botched training exercise to cover for Stark. After Obadiah Stane stole the updated ARC reactor out of Tony’s chest, Rhodes helped Pepper Potts get the original reactor in place to save his friend, contemplating donning a suit himself as Tony flew off to face Stane.

After Stark publicly admitted he was Iron Man, government concern grew over Stark’s armor and enemies trying to replicate it, which increased when Ivan Vanko proved to have figured out similar technology. Rhodes tried to convince his superiors not to claim Stark’s suits for themselves.

James "Rhodey" Rhodes with Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Stark threw a birthday party for himself where he appeared intoxicated and, wearing his armor, endangered the civilians present. To put a stop to his friend’s erratic behavior, Rhodes put on Tony’s older Mark II armor, leading to a brawl between the two. In the wake of this, Rhodes took the Mark II suit to Edwards Air Force Base, where Rhodes’ superiors called in Stark rival Justin Hammer to outfit the armor with additional weapons. After Hammer showed off his best destructive implements, Rhodey told him to put them all in the suit, leading to the debut of a new hero called War Machine.

Geared Up

James Rhodes boasts expert-level piloting skills and a deep understanding of military weaponry. Originally a modified version of Iron Man’s Mark II armor, and now having since gone through several incarnations, the War Machine and Iron Patriot suits boast a combination of technology built by Tony Stark, as well as weapons from other manufacturers, all coming together to make him a one-man weapons depot.

Like the Iron Man armor, the War Machine suit gives the wearer super human strength and flight, and core weapons such as the unibeam and repulsor rays. The War Machine armor also includes a swivel mount mini-gun, firing gauntlets, a sonic cannon, rocket launcher and other examples of heavy ordnance. War Machine has also wielded a staff which can incapacitate enemies with a powerful, non-lethal blast of energy.

After Rhodes becomes paralyzed, Stark designs high-tech leg braces to help him walk again. Initially struggling with the braces, Rhodes eventually adapts to them. However, he does not need them while he wears the War Machine armor.

James Rhodes in the War Machine Suit

Rhodey’s Rivals

The Ten Rings make an enemy of Rhodes when they capture and nearly kill his best friend, Tony Stark.

During his first outing as War Machine, Rhodey and Iron Man take on Ivan Vanko and his army of military branch-themed drones. Both in and out of the Iron Patriot armor, Rhodes assists Stark in taking on Aldrich Killian, his Extremis soldiers, and the traitorous Vice President Rodriguez.

Alongside the Avengers, War Machine helps stop Ultron in Sokovia. Rhodey would later fight against Captain America’s rogue group during the Sokovia Accords conflict, before joining up with his former Avengers teammates to battle against Thanos’ invasion of Wakanda.

Iron Man and War Machine

Forged in Steel

In addition to his brothers and sisters in the armed services, Rhodes counts Tony Stark as a longtime, trusted friend. Through Stark, Rhodey enters the wild world of Super Heroes, becoming War Machine and aiding the Avengers, before becoming a full member of the team in a lineup that includes Captain America, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, and Vision.

The rift in the Avengers caused by the Sokovia Accords led to Rhodey fighting on a team of Iron Man’s that included new allies Black Panther and Spider-Man. When Rhodey is injured during the conflict between the Avengers, causing him to lose use of his legs, Tony is devastated and worried for the health of his friend. Stark stays by his side through his recovery, and develops technology to help Rhodes walk again.

During the war against Thanos, Rhodes joins forces with his former Avengers teammates, along with Bruce Banner, Bucky Barnes, Thor, Groot, Rocket, and Black Panther and his Wakandan warriors.

After losing the war with Thanos and half of the universe’s population, Rhodes works closely with the remaining Avengers to safeguard those left on planet Earth. He tracks down Barton when he goes rogue and helps bring him back to the Avengers after five years of criminal vigilantism. Rhodes also bonds with the space-faring assassin Nebula, daughter of Thanos, over their respective augmentations. 

The Rhodes so Far

While upgrading the Mark II into the War Machine for James Rhodes, Justin Hammer secretly hired Ivan Vanko to make his military-themed armor work. Vanko turned the armor into remotely-controlled drones, instead of manned suits, which were put on display during the Stark Expo. During the presentation, Hammer introduced Rhodes as War Machine—the human leader of the high-tech, automated squad. When Iron Man showed up, he told Rhodey that he suspected that Hammer and Vanko had been working together, just as Vanko took control of the drones, as well as the War Machine suit.

Unable to control the armor, Rhodes—or his suit at least—battled Stark. But, eventually Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow got to Vanko’s abandoned terminal and gave control back to Rhodey. Iron Man and War Machine then fended off the remaining Hammer drones before taking out Vanko, who had donned armor himself. In the wake of these events, Stark and Rhodes were back on friendly terms, even as Rhodes informed Stark he was keeping the War Machine armor for himself.

War Machine (James Rhodes) and Iron Man (Tony Stark)

Working for the government, Rhodey accepted a rebranding (and accompanying red, white and blue paint job) on his armor, now going by the name Iron Patriot. President Ellis ordered Rhodes to focus on tracking down the terrorist known as the Mandarin. During his crusade, Rhodey was contacted by Tony, who had been feared dead in an attack on his home, informing him he was cautious about A.I.M., the group that helped update Rhodey’s armor. Soon after, Rhodey was captured by one of A.I.M.’s Extremis soldiers, who took him to an A.I.M. lab, where they tried cutting him out of the armor. Eventually, A.I.M. founder Aldrich Killian himself forced Rhodey out of the armor, making it burning hot with his Extremis powers.

Breaking free from captivity, Rhodey encountered Stark, as the two learned the Mandarin was actually Trevor Slattery, an actor Killian hired to play the fictional terrorist leader. In the meantime, wearing the Iron Patriot armor, Killian’s agent, Eric Savin, managed to kidnap the president.

Tony Stark and James Rhodes

As Killian’s prisoner, Ellis was strung up inside the Iron Patriot armor, with Killian intending to broadcast his death. Stark and Rhodes arrived to save Ellis. Though Rhodes—unlike Stark—had no armor on himself, he managed to take down several Extremis-powered foes, before freeing the president and, once more donning the Iron Patriot armor, getting him to safety.

Having returned to his War Machine identity rather than Iron Patriot, Rhodes was present at Avengers tower when Ultron first gained sentience and attacked. Rhodes than assisted the Avengers in the battle against Ultron and his drones in Sokovia, helping with the evacuation of the city-turned-floating island. In the wake of the Ultron’s destruction, Tony decided to leave active duty, while Rhodes officially joined a new version of the Avengers consisting of himself, Captain America, Black Widow, Vision, Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch and Sam Wilson AKA Falcon.

After Scarlet Witch accidentally caused civilian deaths during an Avengers mission, Rhodes sided with Stark in support of the Sokovia Accords, which would put the Avengers under UN control. When Captain America went rogue, attempting to help his fugitive friend, Bucky Barnes, War Machine took Cap, Barnes, Falcon, and Wakanda’s Prince T’Challa, the Black Panther, into custody, after all four had been involved in a chase through a German tunnel.

War Machine then fought alongside Iron Man and several others when they tried stopping Captain America and his allies at the Berlin airport. When Captain America and Bucky were escaping in a Quinjet, War Machine and Iron Man flew off to stop the craft, with Falcon tailing them. Rhodes asked Vision for an assist, but Falcon dodged Vision’s blast and it hit War Machine, cutting out his systems, and sending him crashing to the earth, badly injuring him in the process. Rhodes survived, but lost the use of his legs, with Stark providing him with high-tech braces to help him learn to walk again.

War Machine (James Rhodes) becoming paralyzed

Over time, Rhodes had grown regretful over his role in the Sokovia Accords situation, which had sent Cap, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon into hiding as fugitives. In the wake of an attack on Scarlet Witch and Vision in Scotland by agents of Thanos and the return of Captain America and the rogue Avengers, Rhodes sided with his fellow heroes; he refused to arrest them, despite knowing he would be court martialed as a result.

When Bruce Banner suggested the Mind Stone Thanos sought could be removed from Vision without harming him, before the stone itself was destroyed, the reunited Avengers, Rhodes included, traveled to Wakanda to seek their help with delicate process.

War Machine (James Rhodes) fighting in Wakanda against Thanos

When Thanos’ army attacked Wakanda seeking the Mind Stone, Rhodey suited up in his War Machine armor and used his heavy artillery to offer air support for his comrades on the ground, alongside Falcon. The battle had turned in the heroes’ favor, following the arrival of Thor, Groot, and Rocket. But, when Thanos himself arrived, things quickly changed. Attempting to attack Thanos, War Machine could do nothing as the Titan used his Infinity Stones to warp his armor, nearly crushing him inside.

When Thanos got ahold of the Mind Stone, he used the combined power of the Infinity Stones to snap his fingers, wiping out half of the life in the universe. Searching for Falcon in the aftermath of the chaotic battle, Rhodey didn’t see his teammate disintegrate, even as their allies all across the battlefield similarly vanished into nothingness. Rhodes was incredulous as he joined the equally stunned and mournful Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Thor, Rocket and Captain America, wondering what had happened to their friends and allies.

After the Snap, Rhodes retreated to the Avengers compound with the remaining Avengers and eventually met Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, who arrived and offered to help recover the Stones from Thanos and reverse the Snap. In trying to do so, however, the team discovered Thanos had used them one last time to destroy the Stones. Thor, consumed with anger, kills Thanos and the heroes once again are at a loss of what to do next. 

Five years later, Rhodes spends most of his time tracking down Barton who had gone rogue slaughtering criminals across the world and reported his findings back to Black Widow. He resisted the assignment after seeing the aftermath, but Black Widow pushed him to keep looking. Meanwhile, a sliver of hope arrived in the form of Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, who had been lost in the Quantum Realm. He explained how they could use it to travel back in time using a Quantum Tunnel, with Stark’s assistance in navigating it, and retrieve the Stones to bring everyone back. Rhodes then finally located Hawkeye, and Black Widow convinced the rogue Avenger to return to the Avengers compound now that they had a new way to fix the universe.

Rhodes assisted in the time travel test runs alongside Hulk, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye. After arguing with Banner to use time travel to kill a younger Thanos, the team continued the test, outfitting Hawkeye in a time travel suit that materialized over clothing and armor. After a successful trial where Hawkeye traveled to the past and brought back an object, the Avengers reconvened to track down all the Infinity Stones across time. After determining each Stone’s respective location in time, Rhodes traveled back to 2014 to the planet Morag with Nebula, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. Wishing the latter pair well on their quest for the Soul Stone, he stayed on Morag with Nebula to snatch up the Power Stone before Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, retrieved it. After seeing Star-Lord dancing on the planet and realizing he was an idiot, Rhodes knocked him out and the pair successfully acquired the Power Stone. Rhodes related to Nebula over her emotional suffering and augmentations, having been previously paralyzed and needing technology to help him walk. Upon returning to their present time, Rhodes and the rest of the Avengers were unaware that Nebula from 2014 had returned in place of their Nebula.

After the Stones were united in a gauntlet created by Stark, Hulk snapped everyone back into existence across the cosmos. Immediately following their triumph, the past version of Nebula brought Thanos and his army forward to present day using the Avengers’ Quantum Tunnel, who then destroyed the Avengers compound, separating the heroes. Supporting massive amounts of debris that was also preventing a flood, Hulk insisted that Rhodes and Rocket escape. Thankfully, Rhodes was able to free himself from his somewhat damaged armor to help Rocket, who was being crushed by rubble himself. Ant-Man heard Rhodes’ call for help, liberating the trio from the fallen headquarters, and they joined the rest of the Avengers, including those who had just Blipped back, fight Thanos’ army. While this second battle resulted in another Snap by Stark, wiping Thanos and his army from existence, it also resulted in Stark’s death. Before Stark perished, Rhodes comforted his best friend one last time and later attended his funeral, comforting friend and ally, Happy Hogan.