Who has the coolest armor in Iron Man 3? Well, if you answered Iron Patriot then you answered correctly. Although I'm not a fan of the overt nationalism, I do like the massive gun mounted on his shoulder. I just go weak at the knees for that kind of stuff.
In this latest edition of Iron Man, the Iron Patriot suit will be occupied (non-canonically) by as James "Rhodey" Rhodes. It looks like he'll have a pretty large role to play, not just against the Mandarin, but in Marvel lore in general. In a series of Q & A sessions with Screenrant, the guys behind Iron Man 3 explained why Rhodey donned the Iron Patriot armor. Beware there a pretty sizable spoilers ahead.
Firstly, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed how Iron Patriot came about:
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.
This friendship will certainly become a central feature of Iron Man 3. Feige explains:
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.
Of course, director is no stranger to the buddy cop genre. In fact, he's arguably the guy who invented it with the Lethal Weapon series. adds:
We really wanted Rhodey to be more dynamic and have a gun in his hand and really be able to match Tony in his kind of bravado and his wit, and we've done that. As for the Tony/Pepper storyline, we wanted to show what happens four movies later in the course of a relationship, because as Kevin Feige [producer] reminded me, Tony Stark is the only Super Hero who has cultivated and maintained a relationship with one woman over time that doesn't go south entirely.
Now, what about the controversy that Iron Patriot will not be occupied by Norman Osborn as per the original comics? Well, Feige has an explanation for that too, kind of...
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 utilizes it. But we really loved that image; we thought it was a striking image. And coming off of The Avengers 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.
All of this provides a pretty solid background for Iron Patriot, but it fails to answer the most important question of all. Will we get to see that massive gun in action? Well, from the looks of the explosive trailer, it seems pretty likely.
What do you think? Do you mind Marvel messing with the lore if it means a better Iron Man movie, or are you a comic book purist? Let me know below.