Tony Stark’s legacy lives on. Many Marvel fans may have noticed that Armor Wars still didn’t have a release date even after Comic-Con and D23 delivered a one-two punch of MCU news. But now, we’re getting an update on the Don Cheadle/War Machine project, and it may reveal a bigger issue with Marvel’s future strategy.
What happened — According to The Hollywood Reporter, Armor Wars has shifted from Disney+ streaming series to blockbuster movie. It’s unclear if this will affect the project’s release date, though production was expected to begin in 2023. It’s unknown whether this change will alter those plans, but it seems likely production will be pushed back as a result.
One thing that’s not changing is the team behind Armor Wars. Don Cheadle is still committed to returning as James Rhodes (aka, War Machine), giving the long-time Marvel supporting actor his first starring role in the MCU. Series head writer Yassir Lester also remains attached to Armor Wars as it transitions from show to movie. There’s still no director committed.
Why it matters — It’s unclear why Armor Wars shifted from streaming to cinemas, but it seems clear that, at least for the time being, Marvel still views movies as a more prestigious product that TV shows. Shifting the format of Don Cheadle’s project suggests the studio decided Armor Wars was too important to the MCU at large to be relegated to Disney+.
Why this project in particular? It could be that the high budget required for Armor Wars necessitates it being a movie, but it’s also worth noting that the project is in many ways a direct sequel to the Iron Man saga. Don Cheadle’s character was always directly tied to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, and the suit he wears comes from Stark as well. It’s likely the plot will focus on that legacy too.
It’s almost as, if even years after Tony Stark left the MCU, Marvel still feels the need to lean on Iron Man for success. As we enter the franchise’s fifth phase of movies, the studio should be ready to break free from the characters who helped launch it. Instead, we can’t escape from Iron Man’s gravity.
Of course, we’re still excited to see Armor Wars on the big screen. Don Cheadle has been putting in work for years to make Rhodey a pivotal part of the MCU, and he deserves his moment in the spotlight. We just hope it doesn’t come at the expense of pushing forward new stories and characters.