Marvel just loves beating up War Machine. In the recently released art book, Avengers: Endgame – The Art of the Movie, concept artist Phil Saunders reveals that there were alternate plans for the character in Avengers: Infinity War.
Played by Don Cheadle, James Rhodes was set to appear in the Edinburgh battle. The scene features Scarlet Witch and Vision battling Thanos’ Black Order, before Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon rescue the pair. But another version includes War Machine who while fighting the Black Order, is sliced in half.
The book is filled with artwork not seen in the movies and Saunders spoke about the War Machine scene in Infinity War, explaining it as so:
“He was going to be sliced in half by one of the Black Order, and we were going to be shocked until we cut to the scene where he is remotely piloting it. The idea was that he was going to have PTSD from his crash, and so he wasn’t willing to get back in his suit — but he was able to use his prosthetics, attached to this gyroscopic robotic thing, to control the suit remotely.”
It sounds like a great idea on paper. It’s also an interesting angle to the character and would mirror the same conflict Tony Stark endured in Iron Man 3. But if you remember that Edinburgh scene like I do, it’s most remembered as Captain America’s reintroduction. Cap catches the spear and emerges from the shadows while that iconic score kicks in. It’s a great moment from the film and drew applause every time I saw it in the theater.
The energy would disappear once War Machine is cut in two. Not to mention that Saunders believes the similarity with Iron Man 3 and Stark also piloting an unmanned suit made it seem unoriginal.
In any case, following Captain America: Civil War, Kevin Feige and company seemed to abandon War Machine’s storyline entirely. He exists only to support Stark. If there was a character I was sure would have died in Endgame, it would’ve been him. He’s been around long enough for fans to care about but not essential enough to keep in play.. Alas, he was spared a violent fake death and this is why we have editors for movies, right?