Marvel has made its fair share of questionable choices throughout its history, but one of the most glaring missteps is the absence of Rhodey in the Black Panther franchise, at least according to Don Cheadle.
The American actor made his grand debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2010, replacing Terrence Howard as James "Rhodey" Rhodes, the loyal best friend of Iron Man, better known as War Machine.
Since then, he's become an integral part of the superhero saga, appearing in a total of six films: Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Endgame.
However, Cheadle has been noticeably absent from the Black Panther films, despite the franchise's significance in terms of its cultural impact and representation of the Black community in the superhero genre.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cheadle expressed his frustration at not being a part of the franchise, saying:
Like Sam, I had a big chip on my shoulder — we thought we should have been in Wakanda together. We thought, 'Really? You're not going to pull us into Wakanda? Perfect opportunity.' But we're very glad to have had the chance to do it in this [Secret Invasion]. I've been wanting to work with Sam for many, many years.
Unsurprisingly, Cheadle isn't the only MCU star expressing dissatisfaction with Marvel regarding this matter. A few weeks ago, his fellow cast member, Samuel L. Jackson, made it clear to Rolling Stone that his character, Nick Fury, should have, at the very least, made a cameo in Wakanda.
They didn’t let me go to Wakanda, which I was kind of upset about. How could Nick Fury not know about Wakanda? They said, 'Well, you do know but you can’t go.'
It's still up in the air whether Marvel will reconsider their decision to cast either of these actors in a future Black Panther sequel. At the very least, it would make sense for Rhodey to establish a working relationship with the people of Wakanda, given his invaluable assistance during Thanos' invasion in Infinity War.
Moreover, his exosuit could greatly benefit from an upgrade, and where better to have it done than in the technologically advanced and Vibranium-rich nation?
Cheadle and Jackson recently reunited for the Disney+ miniseries Secret Invasion, which made its premiere this week. The six-episode series sees Nick Fury star in the lead role as he and his allies attempt to thwart a treacherous Skrull invasion of Earth. Later in the year, Jackson is set to reprise his role in the female-led Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels.
As for Don Cheadle, the seasoned 58-year-old actor is set to take center stage in the highly anticipated film Armor Wars. Initially conceived as a Disney+ series, Marvel Studios decided to change it into a film adaptation based on the seven-issue Iron Man story arc.
Although no specific director or release date has been confirmed for the project at this point, Kevin Feige has confirmed that the film will pick up after the events of Secret Invasion.