James “Rhodey” Rhodes is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a longtime close personal friend of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. There have been points in history where Rhodey even filled in as Iron Man, but he would eventually receive his own suit of armor and identity as War Machine and later briefly held the identity of Iron Patriot. He has served as an Avenger, a West Coast Avenger, a member of Force Works, and was part of the covert Secret Avengers under both Steve Rogers and Maria Hill.
Like many Avengers, Rhodey has faced insurmountable odds and has seen and done things that haunt him to this day. He’s made his mistakes too, and they have had dire consequences for Rhodey and the people around him.
10 Joining Up With Maria Hill’s Secret Avengers
While Rhodey, as Iron Patriot, didn’t do anything heinous while a part of Maria Hill’s S.H.I.E.L.D.-run Secret Avengers, he still felt that she wasn’t transparent enough with the team. Rhodey was once a member of the United States Air Force; he is familiar with people not telling him the whole story and doesn’t want to go back to that. This is the reason he regretted his choice to join up with Hill’s Secret Avengers and why he left the team.
9 Letting Tony Shirk The Responsibility Of Iron Man
When Rhodey first took up the title of Iron Man, it was when Tony Stark was dealing with his “devil in a bottle.” Tony gave up Iron Man so he could drink and enjoy himself. Rhodey took up Iron Man to help his friend and to help other people. However, in retrospect, taking up the title of Iron Man was enabling Tony. Rhodey took this responsibility off the shoulders of Tony, and this gave Tony more leeway to drink and run his own life into the ground.
8 Not Having Tony Build Him His Own Suit Of Armor Sooner
When Rhodey became Iron Man, it was while using Tony Stark’s armor, which was designed specifically for Tony Stark. This included the AI interface and mental commands. Consequently, the armor and helmet systems were not attuned to Rhodey, and this turned into a huge risk for Rhodey. It began to give Rhodey headaches and endangered him while out on missions. Tony Stark would later build Rhodey is own (several) Iron Man suits, but Rhodey probably wished he had gotten his own sooner.
7 Fighting A.I.M. In Space With Tony
This wasn’t so much of a mistake for Rhodey, but it is something he likely regrets to a degree. In the build-up to “Armor Wars,” Tony Stark and James Rhodes battled A.I.M. on a space station as a pair of Iron Men. During the fight, Rhodey’s armor was severely damaged, and he went into freefall.
He fell through Earth’s atmosphere, and he was almost cooked alive in his Iron Man suit. He survived the experience, but it did leave him with PTSD and kept him from returning to the life of a superhero for a long time.
6 Dubai Terrorist Attack
After the original Civil War, Rhodey was working as a military consultant in Dubai, a terrorist attack almost killed him. It resulted in Rhodey losing his legs, arms, and part of his face. Tony built cybernetic replacements for his friend, and he would return to the life of War Machine not long afterward. Again, the terrorist attack was not the fault of Rhodey, nor could he have predicted it. That said, it is something that certainly fills him with regret to this day.
5 The Ultimo Virus
Shortly after becoming War Machine again, Rhodey went on a campaign against the Eaglestar International private military corporation. While Eaglestar was undoubtedly evil, it did lead to a lot of pain, misery, and bloodshed. It led to battles in Canada, Santa Marco, and back in the states. Rhodey watched people become possessed by an AI infection based upon the Ultimo robot. He lost a friend in Dr. Glenda Sandoval to the Ultimo virus. In the end, Rhodey had to take the Ultimo virus into himself to win the day, and he had a showdown with Norman Osborn as Iron Patriot and the God of War, Ares.
4 Losing His Father
While wearing the mantle of Iron Patriot, Rhodey worked out of Georgia with this nice, Lila, and his father. He came across an armored terrorist who tried to blackmail Rhodey into assassinating a former president, but Rhodey refused. Lila and Rhodey’s father both aided the Iron Patriot in foiling this plot, but Rhodey’s father died in the process.
3 Joining With O.N.E.
Around the time of Civil War, War Machine joined up with the O.N.E., aka the Office of National Emergency. He led a Sentinel squad and was tasked with hunting down heroes who didn’t sign the Superhuman Registration Act.
Both of those things seem quite bad, especially with the benefit of hindsight. The job finally became too much for him when he was asked to arrest Black Panther and Storm while they were in America.
2 Facing Thanos With Captain Marvel
The costliest mistake of War Machine’s career was going with Captain Marvel, the Ultimates, A-Force, and a team of Inhumans to face Thanos before he could steal the shards of a Cosmic Cube from Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Captain Marvel learned of this coming attack with the help of the Inhuman known as Ulysses, who could predict the future with pinpoint accuracy. The fight turned into a massacre, and Thanos punched a whole through Rhodey’s armor, and misfired missiles from War Machine left She-Hulk in a coma. The ensuing grief from Captain Marvel and Iron Man led to Civil War II.
1 Ruthlessly Attacking Ultron’s Cyborgs
James Rhodes’ complicated history with AI and having an artificial body of his own has left him with hangups about artificial intelligence. When the hybridized Ultron/Hank Pym came back to experiment with merging organic and artificial life, Iron Man, Wasp, and Rhodey, then piloting the Manticore armor, went out to stop him. By this point, Pymtron already had an army of mindless cyborgs to defend him, and Rhodey attacked and killed them with abandon despite the possibility that they could be saved. This possibility turned into a reality when Vision was successfully separated from Wonder Man and Iron Man was separated from a suit of his own armor. This became even more complicated for Rhodey later when he was officially recognized as an artificial lifeform by the U.S. Senate due to his own artificially-grown body (Rhodey received an artificial body that looks completely human sometime after the Dubai terrorist attack and his cyborg body began to shut down).
From picking the wrong battles to letting Tony Stark down, these are some of War Machine's biggest mistakes.