Iron Man started off the Marvel Comics Universe in 2008 and although Terrence Howard as Jim Rhodes didn't get a chance to pilot the Iron Man armor, Don Cheadle as Jim Rhodes did in the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2. Although Rhodey was a sidekick to Tony Stark in the three Iron Man films, the character has grown in significance over the years, eventually becoming a full-fledged member of the Avengers. In the comics, Rhodey got his own spinoff comic; the War Machine armor, meanwhile, has seen other pilots besides Jim Rhodes, including Tony Stark and even The Punisher, Frank Castle! James Rupert Rhodes made his first appearance way back in 1979 in Iron Man #118 but didn't become War Machine until 13 years later in Iron Man #282. Over the years, both the man and the armor have changed.
Tony Stark is constantly upgrading his Iron Man armor, so why would War Machine be any different? Although he received upgrades from Stark, did you know that after losing his armor, Rhodey piloted a new War Machine which was a suit of warwear from a long dead alien race? Did you also know that after serious physical injury, the War Machine armor served as life support for Rhodey? What DC Comics character was he fused with when DC and Marvel Comics co-published Amalgam Comics? What version of his armor allowed him to pick up an Asgardian hammer? Most importantly, why is Rhodey's armor singing? These questions will be answered as well as many more as we look at the 15 most powerful versions of the War Machine Armor, Ranked.
15 IRON MAN NOIR
Iron Man in the 1920s? It's true! The series Iron Man Noir made its debut in June 2010 and depicted the adventures of industrialist Tony Stark from the alternate reality Earth-90214. In this timeline, set almost 100 years in the past, Tony Stark doesn't sport a sleek red and gold suit; it's a clunky, gray steampunk-esque suit of armor.
Even though it's an alternate timeline, he still has a friend named Rhodey, and that James Rhodes also wears a suit of armor. It has a familiar-looking shoulder-mounted machine gun, but given how low-tech it is, it barely counts as War Machine armor. It did pack tremendous firepower for that era!
14 THE ORIGINAL
Tony Stark has created a slew of specialty armor for when his regular suit won't do the trick. He's made underwater armor, stealth armor and even armor to fight Celestials! At one point, Tony was targeted by the Masters of Silence, highly skilled martial artists that also sported advanced technology. Tony knew he had to up his game against these guys in battle.
Iron Man #281 had Tony put on the Variable Threat Response Battlesuit for the first time. It's twice as thick as the previous Iron Man armorsand had big protruding guns on either shoulder, which was why it was dubbed War Machine. After Tony faked his death, the ownership of the suit went to his longtime friend, James Rhodes. This was where it all started!
13 ARMORED ADVENTURES
Iron Man: Armored Adventures wasn't about Tony Stark being a playboy billionaire, it was about a young Tony at a high school called the Tomorrow Academy. When not in school with his friend Rhodey, he's secretly fighting crime as Iron Man. Eventually he designs a suit of armor for his friend and Rhodey takes on the mantle of War Machine, but because it's an animated series he looks tough and adsorbs at the same time.
Remember, this is a kid's show, so he's not going to be the walking death machine we're normally used to in the comics. Heck, it's designed by high school Tony, so how vicious could it be? Although it's missing the signature shoulder gatling gun, animated War Machine is still strong enough to physically take on the giant dragon Fin Fang Foom, as well as help lift the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier (with help from Iron Man).
12 CANCERVERSE ARMOR
Imagine a universe where no one dies... sounds like a dream, right? Such a thing happened in the reality known as Earth-10011, but unfortunately an extra-dimensional entity known as the Many-Angled Ones corrupted all of the life present and turned it into what was later called the Cancerverse. In this world, Thor and Spider-Man and even Galactus existed, but as warped versions of themselves.
War Machine was no exception, and in the Cancerverse he was on a team known as the Revengers. Eventually the Revengers made their way to the main Marvel Universe (Earth-616) to try and defeat the Death entity in the name of the Many-Angled Ones. The Revengers version of War Machine had the same powerful armor, but like all the members of the Cancerverse, he couldn't die, making him even more unstoppable!
11 IRON PATRIOT
After the events of the Marvel crossover Secret Invasion, S.H.I.E.L.D. was disbanded and a new organization called H.A.M.M.M.E.R. took its place. Led by Norman Osborn, he obtained one of Tony Stark's Iron Man suits and turned it into the Iron Patriot. After Osborn was ousted, the armor was turned into a drone and mass-produced in China.
The Iron Patriot drones all possessed a form of artificial intelligence, and James Rhodes was chosen by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson to try and communicate with them. He was successful, and the drones gave him Osborne's Iron Patriot suit to pilot. Not only did Rhodey have the arsenal of the Iron Patriot, he was also in control of a fleet of Iron Patriot drone armor as well!
10 MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE ARMOR
In the 2008 film Iron Man, Tony Stark flies off into battle and as Rhodey leaves Stark's lab, he notices the Iron Man Mark II and wishes out loud to one day pilot it. Rhodey is forced to wear the armor in the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2 when an armored (and drunk) Tony Stark gets a little too rowdy and needs to be calmed down.
After the friends battle, Rhodey leaves with the suit of armor. Stark's rival, Justin Hammer, gets a hold of it and loads it with a variety of Hammertech weapons. Although the mounted guns are loud and look impressive, Hammer's gear just doesn't hold a candle to Stark Technology.
9 THOR MACHINE
Whoa, is that Thor as Iron Man or Iron Man as Thor? Since it's Marvel, it's clearly more complex than that. In the 2015 series Secret Wars the multiverse is destroyed and is reassembled by Doctor Doom, who takes some massive liberties with continuity. To maintain Doom's law and order, he assembles the Thors from different realities and forms the Thor Corps.
In this world, Rhodey was a part of Thor Corps and was the Grand Marshall of the Hall of Order in Technopolis, an area of Battleworld where everyone wears a form of Iron Man armor not because they're cool like that, but because they need it as a defense against an airborne virus. Tony has made armor before that had Asgardian enchantments in them, but this suit was different... and possibly more powerful!
8 IRON MAN 2.0
Whoa, looks like War Machine lost some weight! While trying to track down a terrorist named Palmer Addley, War Machine goes toe to toe with a nuclear bomb... and survives! Tony Stark creates a new War Machine (but refers to it as Iron Man 2.0) that is noticeably smaller and sleeker than previous models, but is it less powerful?
It doesn't have the giant gatling gun hanging out on its shoulder or the big hulking frame, but this model of War Machine fights battles in a totally new way. It has the ability to camouflage itself visibly as well as make itself invisible to scanners. One big advantage is that this version has the ability to phase through solid objects using multi-dimensional bridge teleportation. We kind of miss the big shoulder cannons, though.
7 SENTINEL SQUAD ARMOR
In the 2005 Marvel Crossover series House of M, an alternate world is created in which mutants rule the Earth. The pendulum swings the other way and the Scarlet Witch does a Thanos-like impression by using her reality-warping powers to get rid of the majority of mutants on Earth. All that's left are 198 mutants and Sentinels are dispatched by the government to keep watch over them.
These Sentinels are different. In the past (technically future), they were cold, calculating robots responsible for hunting mutants. These new versions had human pilots, and the head of Sentinel Squad O*N*E was James Rhodes! Rhodey was the Direct Command Officer as well as instructor. The new Sentinels were designed by Tony Stark (of course) and had to be strong enough to handle possible mutant threats which came up.
6 WAR MONARCH
In 1991, DC Comics released a crossover that depicted a nightmarish future in which the world was controlled by a powerful being known only as Monarch. The series was called Armageddon 2001, and yes at one point 2001 was considered "the future." Monarch was actually Hank Hall, former member of Hawk and Dove, and his character made his return in 1996 in the Amalgam Comic Bullets and Bracelets #1.
He kind of made his return; because it's the Amalgam Universe he returned as the War Monarch, a combination of Monarch and War Machine that was a possible ally of Thanoseid (a merged Darkseid and Thanos). Bullets and Bracelets depicted amalgamated versions of The Punisher and Wonder Woman looking for their kidnapped son. War Monarch's armor has advanced tech, including the ability to create Boom Tubes.
5 WAR MACHINE PUNISHER
Unfortunately, James Rhodes was killed while fighting Thanos in the pages of Civil War II. However, the War Machine armor lived on! Former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury gave the armor to the one person that probably doesn't need anymore armament: Frank Castle, also known as The Punisher!
In The Punisher #218, Frank Castle went to Chernaya, a country in Eastern Europe that was under the military control of General Petrov. What made this version of War Machine high on our list? The fact that it's being piloted by Frank Castle, a man that has no problem whatsoever using lethal force!
4 STANETECH ARMOR
A terrorist attack left James Rhodes horrifically injured, resulting in the loss of his arms and legs. He was turned into a cyborg, but instead of technology used by Tony Stark, his competitor was brought in and Stanetech was used to rebuild Rhodey. This left Rhodey more machine than man due to the fact that the systems in his armor were also providing him with life support to the point that he rarely removed his armor, and stopped sleeping altogether.
When not wearing his armor, Rhodey looked almost like a version of the T-800 from the Terminator movie series. All of the additional technology the War Machine was carrying gave the suit some new functionality. The new armor components allowed him to interface with machines, and after being exposed to a modified version of the Techno-Organic Virus, was able to assimilate vehicles and weapons into his armor.
3 ULTIMATE WAR MACHINE
The Ultimate Marvel Universe gave audiences a fresh take on familiar characters. Ultimate Marvel gave us a new spin on the Avengers as well as an introduction to Miles Morales, who would eventually take on the mantle of Spider-Man. Unfortunately, we also got Ultimate Iron Man, a convoluted mess that depicted Tony as a walking brain (literally) that could regrow body parts.
We also got Ultimate War Machine, and if you thought he was a tank before, this Earth-1610 model makes other versions look tiny. Originally built by Tony Stark but later modified by his brother, this suit had in its arsenal a nuclear bomb and also could transform into a luxury car!
2 EIDOLON WARWEAR
So... what are we looking at exactly? This armor is second on our list, and it's as weird as it is powerful! The suit was created by the Eidolon, a race of warriors that died thousands of years ago. They created the Warwear battlesuit, a sentient suit that bonded physically with its owner.
What made the suit so powerful is that it could create any weapon the wearer imagined. It could also heal injuries sustained to the suit as well as the pilot. It had the ability for interstellar travel and conveniently disappear when not in use, leaving behind tattoos called Mandalas. What's it best function? It "sings"as it goes into battle! As powerful as the suit was, it still wasn't tops on our list, so what was?
1 SATELLITE ARMOR
During the Marvel crossover Secret Invasion, Iron Man Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was re-titled War Machine Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D. and featured James Rhodes fighting off a Skrull invasion. He's instructed by Iron Man to go into space to find a super-secret satellite that Tony built. When he gets there, Rhodey makes an awesome discovery.
With the help of former Force Works member Suzi Endo, Rhodey learns that the satellite is in fact one giant transformer! The entire station transforms around him and as a giant spaceship-sized War Machine Rhodes takes on an entire Skrull invasion force. I guess Tony watched a lot of Robotech growing up!