War Machine is loaded for ‘off the leash’ destruction in ‘Iron Man 2’

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Tony Stark breaks all the rules (even the one that says superheroes must keep a secret identity), and he always seems to comes out on top -- that’s why we love him. But now comes ‘Iron Man 2,’ a film about secret dangers, the sins of the father and the nasty price of modern celebrity. The movie lands May 7 in the U.S., and every day until then, we’ll have behind-the-scenes scoops on the summer’s most anticipated film and a look at all things Iron Man.

When it comes to firepower, ‘Iron Man 2’ is fully loaded thanks to the new hero called War Machine.

Director Jon Favreau chuckled when asked about the character, played by Don Cheadle, shown above with Robert Downey Jr., who is back in the armored-plated franchise’s title role. In the movie, War Machine is the code name for the gun-metal suit that was made by Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) but then hijacked by the U.S. government and outfitted with extra firepower by Stark’s conniving rival, military contractor Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).

Cheadle plays James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, the Air Force lieutenant who finds himself torn between his superiors, who covet the Iron Man armor tech, and his friend Stark, who seems to be increasingly erratic as his celebrity and hubris surge with his heroic exploits. War Machine has been a character in the pages of Marvel Comics since 1979, and Favreau said the character was the obvious choice for the sequel because as a second Iron Man of sorts he allows the film it live up to the double meaning of its title.

‘The conversation was ‘How do you expand what’s there, how do you make the sequel bigger and better?’ and one is way is, in essence, doubling up on Iron Man,’ the director said. ‘War Machine lets you do that.’


There’s a scene in the film in which Hammer lays out more than half a dozen weapons of different sizes and asks which one Rhodey wants to append to the purloined Stark armor. ‘I’ll take it ... all of them,’ the military officer says. That full-arsenal approach makes Favreau chuckle when he recounts the scene.

‘The fun part is the ridiculousness of it -- just how many guns can you put on this thing? That’s the fun part of this character. With the movie, we make this effort to make everything emotionally correct but you also really want to cut loose and have fun in the places where it seems consistent to the story we’re telling. And with the design and fighting style of War Machine we really went to town. He’s packed with firepower and we let the [effects team] at ILM off the leash with the intensity of the destruction. The result is ... high caliber.’

-- Geoff Boucher


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PHOTO: Iron Man and War Machine prepare for battle in ‘Iron Man 2' (Industrial Light and Magic)