EDITORIAL: Why I Think Tony Allowed Rhodey To Take His Armor In IRON MAN 2

Have you ever wondered why Rhodey was able to take the Mark II Iron Man armor so easily? I offer an in depth analysis on this situation, where I will discuss the comics, Tony's legacy, his relationship with Pepper, and much more!

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By BobbyDrakeApproaches - 2/6/2014
Are you ready for the earth shaking, shocking, mind blowing explanation for why Tony allowed Rhodey to take his Mark II armor?



He wanted Rhodey to become Iron Man.

Let me just say that I am not clueless, I realize that this movie debuted more than three years ago, and it is no longer a topic of heated debate. I also realize that plenty of people have probably already assumed this, but bear with me, as I try to explain some of Tony’s more erratic behavior.

The comics themselves support this theory. In Iron Man issue 284, Tony Stark dies. He leaves a message for James Rhodes, asking him to take over the role as Iron Man, and also become the new CEO of Stark Enterprises. Of course, it is later revealed (in the same issue) that Tony was actually in a state of cryogenic suspension.



Why am I telling you this? Because all of Tony’s actions in Iron Man 2 can be linked back to one key idea: Tony is preparing for his own death. In the comics, he knows he will probably survive, but in the movie, he believes his days are numbered.

A key theme of the first two Iron Man movies is an individual’s legacy. During these films, there are multiple moments where Tony ponders what he will be remembered for, and what he will leave behind when he dies. In the first movie, Tony realized he did not want to be remembered as someone who creates tools of destruction, so he stopped making weapons.



Continuing with that idea in the sequel, Tony revives the Stark Expo, in an attempt to build a legacy as a technological innovator, using his brilliance to do more than just create weapons. Knowing he does not have much longer to live, he becomes even more reckless. He gets drunk and throws a crazy party. He decides to drive his own race car in a professional race in Monaco. He also gets rid of many of his worldly possessions, including donating his modern art collection to the Boy Scouts of America.

However, the most significant thing he does in preparation for his own death is promoting Pepper to CEO of Stark Industries. There are two reasons Tony does this: He wants to give Pepper a solid financial backing and a steady occupation after he departs, and he wants the company to be run by a competent individual of sound mind. Tony knows first hand the danger of promoting the wrong person. (Obadiah Stane, anyone?) Furthermore, promoting Pepper is another step toward continuing his legacy. Stark Industries, in a way, is his greatest material possession, and he wants the legacy of his company to continue long after he is gone.



While Stark Industries may be his greatest material possession, Tony’s greatest personal identity is Iron Man. If he surrenders the weapon to the government, and then dies, then his life would be no better than if he had died in that cave in Afghanistan. The government would transform the Iron Man armor into a weapon, and the only thing Tony Stark would be remembered for is someone who created a weapon of mass destruction. (At least, that is what Tony assumes. When the government does acquire the Iron Man armor, they use it as a publicity stunt, but Tony had no way of knowing this.)



So instead, Tony wants to surrender the Iron Man identity to an individual. An individual could continue the legacy Tony started as Iron Man. The perfect individual for this job is James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Not only is he one of the most responsible men that Tony knows, he is also an experienced pilot. Add in the fact that he is far more disciplined, and actually has combat training, and you could argue that Rhodey is far more qualified to fly the suit than Tony is.



The only reason Rhodey would be a less than stellar candidate is that technology is not his field of expertise. Of course, there are ways of getting around this. Tony could train him, provide plenty of technical manuals, and JARVIS could also assist Rhodey in almost every way. Unfortunately, Rhodey would not be able to constantly update the armor. Perhaps that is another reason for the Stark Expo, to find someone with the brilliance of Stark who could provide new suits for Rhodey.

One could argue that giving the suit to Rhodey is basically the same thing as giving it to the government, but that is not necessarily true. Sure, Rhodey brings it straight to Uncle Sam after he takes it, but I am pretty sure Tony did not want this. Most likely, Tony wanted to give Rhodey the Iron Man armors under a legally binding contract that specified stated they could not be donated to the military.

Why, you may ask, did Tony never actually tell Rhodey about his plans? For the same reason he never told Pepper that he was dying, at least not until he was well. He is an immature, reckless, somewhat selfish man who has a really hard time talking about his feelings. Telling a loved one you are dying is a really difficult thing to do, and even when Rhodey points out the “high-tech crossword puzzle” on Tony’s neck, Tony decides he is not ready to explain it.



In fact, in the comics, Tony never tells Rhodey that he wants him to take over as Iron Man until after his supposed death. He leaves a hologram of himself explaining the situation. This is something I can easily imagine Tony doing in the movies.

If you believe Tony wanted Rhodey to become Iron Man, everything makes a lot more sense- the armor fits Rhodey perfectly, and it has its own power source. JARVIS does not stop Rhodey, nor does any security system even attempt to slow him down.

Tony allowed Rhodey to take the armor in order to continue his legacy as Iron Man. If everything went as Tony planned it, he would be dead, and Rhodey would be in charge of world peace. Iron Man 3 would certainly be interesting.

You have finished reading about my theory! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you wonder why Rhodey’s massive plastic surgery in between the first two movies was never referenced? Let me know in the comments!
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I think you are over thinking this. I don't even think the films makers thought of using what your theory is about, since Tony fought Rodey for the suit. I think it would have been better if Tony made the War Machine suit for Rodey in the first place. When Rodey goes to talk to Tony in Tony's basement and discovers that the chest plate is effecting Tony, Tony should have given Rodey the suit and told him that he was dying.
BobbyDrakeApproaches - 2/6/2014, 7:50 PM
I disagree. Tony was not fighting Rhodey in order to reclaim his suit. Rhodey actually started that fight in order to stop Tony, who was endangering the other guests at the party. Tony was only defending himself, and then retaliating.
BobbyDrakeApproaches - 2/6/2014, 7:53 PM
I like your idea, as that would be a much wiser decision for Tony to make. My only issue is that your version is not nearly as dramatic as what happens in the movie.
MightyZeus - 2/6/2014, 7:59 PM
Good analysis and interesting theory.
MrCBM56 - 2/6/2014, 8:18 PM
Great theory. But it would be much more believable if the movie expanded upon this.
dethpillow - 2/6/2014, 8:21 PM
you're dead on right about this.

Tony is actually a complex character and even tho he knows he can only leave the armor to Rhodey, that doesn't mean he acts consistently about things.
of course he's gonna fight Rhodey about it, even as the same time, he is making it possible for it happen and also sort of pushing things to a head so that it has to happen.

that's what i love about so many Marvel characters is they are complex to the level that they don't explain themselves in any list like bullet point procedure. they are organic creations who are contradictory and messy and look like liars to people looking at them.

i got in an argument with someone on another comic book forum site, and it was about AGents of Shield and how when Coulson told Skye about her history as an 084, it went to slow-mo and she started crying. and i said that no one would cry there, cuz that's not what a human does and Marvel Comics is about being a human. and i said that only a sociopath would cry when they heard that news.

and this person didn't understand and they accused me of being a sociopath. becuz why wouldn't u cry there, what's wrong with you?


and that's what the difference is... Marvel Comics would never if they were thinking straight have Skye cry at that moment, cuz they understand people. and present their characters with complexity and not like a cartoon about a balloon. their characters do crazy and weird things that fight against themselves and their best interests, this happens all the time, cuz their characters are real deal and not just made up balloons walking around boasting and threatening each other.

but you're right on, i think. i don't see how you could be any more right on than you are with this article. people don't realize that Iron Man 2 was supposed to be a good movie. they act like, on purpose, out of spite or something, or out of being rushed, they just dropped a big shit on our heads.

but look at it again cuz there's something running thru Iron Man 2 that was supposed to be a good movie. there are major flaws and it stands as Marvel's worst movie, by far, but they hadn't figured it out yet, and that's their fault, quite frankly. it's not mine, and it's not the fault of anyone but the people making the movie. but i'm glad to see articles revisiting this film as it's crazily misunderstood and people like to jsut act like it fits in their pocket with all their other little trinkets and worthless junk possessions.
dethpillow - 2/6/2014, 8:24 PM
@MrCBM - the movie does not expand upon this, you're absolutely right, but it's clearly there in the movie. look at the article, this writer really takes a hard look at the movie and is bringing every rational and pertinent thread to this point.

i'd argue that there's less of stuff supporting Batman's decision at the end of TDKR, than there is in Iron Man 2 supporting this. it's just that TDKR, didn't leak and puke and get sick at every opportunity it had along the way. it kept it's head about itself and made it to the finish line. not ranking any place, maybe like ranking 96th' place, but it did it, it crossed the finish line.

but there's no justification for what Batman does at the end of TDKR, none. there is so much here actually pointing to the article writer's conclusions. and i won't repeat them here in comments, cuz they are better said in the article itself.

that's more reasons than almost movie makes for itself. i think at least.
dethpillow - 2/6/2014, 8:27 PM
great article tho. have u read the comics around the time of Stane's villainous appearance? when he drives Tony to alcoholism and afterwards, Rhodey takes over? those are pretty interesting in this context too, i thihnk.
BobbyDrakeApproaches - 2/6/2014, 8:37 PM
#dethpillow, I have not. I would like to, but I usually only read the comics I can find at the library. Is the alcoholism the reason Rhodey first becomes Iron Man?
BobbyDrakeApproaches - 2/6/2014, 8:40 PM
Also, I wanted to thank you for being so supportive. It's amazing how much you can write at such rapid rate, and it still sounds very intelligent and well thought out.
dethpillow - 2/6/2014, 9:05 PM
thanks, i'm trying to work on being more coherent now, and not just saying whatever, cuz i know it's important to try to be logically coherent too.

Which i think your article does a great job at being... and yeah, Rhodey ends up donning the armor, at first cuz Stark is drinking again, and was driven to this by the cruel mastermind Obadiah Stane, who is even just for that, you gotta read this series of Iron Man comics. but there's some threat to Stark Industries, and Tony can't be found, and Rhodey just goes into Stark's little armor room, and gets suited up and goes out to beat it. i think he kinda has to fight a drunk Stark in armor too, i forget, but it's really a great set of scenes.

and what's even better is afterwards how Tony deals with Rhodey taking over the spot. it's pretty complex and true to life in as much as a comic book back then could be. and after he comes back, there's a sense of rivalry with Rhodey too, cuz Rhodey kinda gets addicted to the feeling of being a hero also. really really great classic writing, it kinda starts around Iron Man #163 and it goes pretty much from that, where everything is worth reading in sequence til the whole thing is over with, cuz it continues on afterwards with Tony and Rhodey dealing with each other in this role.

i signed up for Marvel Unlimited, which is either a subscription for a month or for the year, but i sign up for each year, and then u get access to all back issues that they've scanned and u can just look up runs or titles and most of the big stuff is scanned in there. u can't read new stuff until it's about a year old, but it's a good deal if u really want to and have time to delve into back issues.

but right on great article, and Iron Man 2 is one of the films that i obsess over, and constantly try to imagine how they could've made it a great film, it's got so promise and just flops out on itself and doesn't deliver, sometimes there's too much stuff and sometimes things were discarded, it seems, meaninglessly. and to waste Rourke's killer performance as Whiplash is really sad to me, cuz he was there and ready to kill it all the way.
dethpillow - 2/6/2014, 9:12 PM
oh andu can also find scanned comics on file sharing networks, cuz marvel unlimited costs money, but if you're tight, figure out torrent and u can find back issues there too. it just takes longer. and if i ever have money i'm happy to support Marvel's scanning in of all their back history. but just saying there's other options too. :)
SauronsBANE1 - 2/6/2014, 10:06 PM
Haha, dethpillow/fangzz posts are some of the best on this site! He could probably write an entire novel in a day or two and have it be totally and completely coherent and intelligent. Great stuff.

@BobbyDrakeApproaches, Awesome article man! I hate when people say stuff like "you're overthinking it" and things like that. It's almost insulting. Obviously you put a lot of thought into this, but when did that ever become a bad thing? That's what makes movies so enjoyable! They're meant to be thought about and theorized about. That's half the fun.

I have to disagree about Tony willingly wanting to hand over the reins of Iron Man to Rhodey, but you're completely right about Tony not wanting to be Iron Man anymore. I mean, when you look at all 4 films as a whole (the trilogy, and The Avengers), it's obvious that Tony is trying to separate Tony Stark from Iron Man.

In the 1st one, he NEEDS Iron Man because that's what got him out of that terrorist cave. Then he needs Iron Man to fight the terrorists, destroy his weapons that are being mis-used, and beat Stane.

By the 2nd film, his arc reactor is literally killing him. That makes him, as you said, reckless and dangerous to everyone around him. He becomes sort of a ticking time bomb, which makes him go so far as to fight his best friend. Sure, he absolutely allows Rhodey to fly away in his suit. I believe that fact is even referenced and spelled out in the film. But I think it had more to do with wanting a sidekick than having Rhodey take over completely.

By the 3rd film, he's forced to spend huge amounts of time with no suit at all. Nothing but his brains to get him out of sticky situations. And by the end, he willingly blows up his suits, gets his arc reactor removed, and convinces himself and everyone around him that HE'S Iron Man, not the suit. Who knows where this leaves him leading up to the events of Avengers 2.

Great stuff!
dethpillow - 2/7/2014, 12:12 AM
@Sauron'sBane - ha u know how many words i can make up cuz i remember commenting on your article for days after still. haha. that was really a good article too. but you're totally right on too.

about your assessment of Tony and also, about overthinking. cuz to me, it doesn't even matter if this is what the film makers thought, it's what they ended up putting on screen. and what they thought can be very insightful and is a great source of hints of different ways to look at a movie, but ultimately once something is made it's out of your hands. and so many people who create things, do trip out on how later on people will connect dots that they didn't even know formed a picture. but what put those dots there? well the creator did, whether they knew it or not, but they did.

some kinds of arguments about that stuff are unconvincing cuz they get too much into nonsense detail and schizo coincidence, but if you're reading drives and moods and plot points in a human way, you're reading of a movie is just as valid as the creators, so i don't ever let that get in the way of me trying to make something good out of a movie. and this article even isn't going out on any limbs at all, this is very straightforward, and i think the makers of the movie were conscious of exactly what is being said here, not like my sometimes interpretations of IM3, which i think more and more were unintended, but over here, this is all stuff that just got obscured and hidden by lack of direction from the creators. i think IM2 was 2, maybe 2 and a half movies crammed into one, that they assumed would sort itself out when they shot it, much as the first one was often saved by improvisations. and i think they kinda left huge blocks in it to say to themselves, let's leave room here and see what shakes out. but that kind of thinking turns out to be a cop out cuz it's really that you're being lazy, end of day. and then it caught up with them. that's totally my read of the movie but then plus i would add in a little bit of overworked minds, a bunch of celebration drugs and relaxation and Marvel pushing them to get it done sooner than they were ready for. and just bad luck too.

but mostly, what a person's intentions were is not gonna be known in 150 years. people will have everything cached on google forever, but it's not even gonna cross their minds, they'll put the movie and watch what's there. and i really like this article too, cuz the range it covers, this domain, is limited to what's there in front of us, in the story. and so many assessment or reviews of things, bring in extra elements and comparisons, or issues. and let's just look at what's there in the movie to get a solid idea of what it means. and that's refreshing to me, cuz sometimes i tend to bring in all kinds of weird things too.
DEVLIN712 - 2/7/2014, 12:43 AM
Great article BDA! I'm gonna watch IM2 this weekend with that mindset, can't wait!
BenjiWest - 2/7/2014, 2:11 AM
Good article. But like others I don't think it was intentionally to be given to Rhodey. I think your right in that many of his moves are made with the thought that he would be dying soon.

It's an older model, which Rhodes then immediately gets upgraded into War Machine, this even backfires as the suit is temporarily hijacked by Vanko. Although I believe Tony does come around to the idea of War Machine, like SauronsBANE1 states, Tony seems to want to separate himself from Iron Man. So much so, that he accomplishes this in the third film, while helping Rhodes to retain his suit. Showing that he has ultimately come to approve of Rhodes' hero.
6of13 - 2/7/2014, 2:42 AM
Interesting write up!
dethpillow - 2/7/2014, 2:47 AM
@Benji - interesting too. good stuff.
CaptShipwreck - 2/7/2014, 4:58 AM
[frick]ing great read
Nomis1800 - 2/7/2014, 4:59 AM
Iron Man 2 sucked incredibly hard. What a stupid film, pure crap.
RorMachine - 2/7/2014, 5:00 AM
Not that this isn't well written and thought out..I just find it a very odd thing to spend any amount of time contemplating! But ..ok.
supermarioworldE - 2/7/2014, 5:15 AM
You give the writers way too much credit.
NoAssemblyReqd - 2/7/2014, 5:31 AM
Interesting read, but I thought the reasoning behind Tony's easy loss of the Mark II was made pretty clear from the get-go. Even Fury brought it up during their meeting at the donut place.
MercwithMouth - 2/7/2014, 5:48 AM
Very cool write-up.

I don't think many people would've ever thought about that for any amount of time. I like it, very interesting read.

Kudos.
Jackraow21 - 2/7/2014, 6:07 AM
Also, I believe that RDJ only signed on for two more Avengers sequels and not solo Iron Man films. So they could do another Iron Man flick where Rhodey dons the armor. Makes sense.
Hulk2008 - 2/7/2014, 6:31 AM
Tony Stark also was without the arc reactor for many years in the comics after it was surgically removed.

In AoU what my specualtions are:

- after CA:TWS, Ultron will be introduced from creator of of winter soldier arm leading to the head of Ultron structure and Bucky acting being mind controlled like a cyborg (See CA:TFA when Bucky was found by Cap after being held by Red Skull), also see Bucky's story in EMH in season 2.

-Jarvis assembles the Ultron and introduces himself with his voice altered(with James Spader voice) to Tony

-Rhodey gets involved with the Avengers as War Machine (not Iron Patriot)

-Tony builds a new suit and becomes the Iron Man once again.

-Ultron creates & introduces the Vision!!
anthonyEstark - 2/7/2014, 6:40 AM
Aww c'mon, you guys trying to set up my death?
Epicboy - 2/7/2014, 6:42 AM
I always thought he just didn't give a shif be the end of it,
EkklesiaRobb - 2/7/2014, 6:50 AM
@BobbyDrake, I agree whole heartedly. Essentially, he's like his father in that he can't share these things in person, but he wants to maintain his legacy through Rhodes.
Masterpace - 2/7/2014, 6:57 AM
Really? You think people don't know why he did that? I could right my own editorial about it but I guess it's better to put it in the comments:

Tonny thought he was going to die so he wanted someone he trusts to protect people with what he created.

That's it. You don't need to write whole editorial about this s*it.
Brohara - 2/7/2014, 7:25 AM
You are correct. But this was basically confirmed in the movie.
Nick Fury called him on it at the cafe; "giving away all your stuff...
you let your friend fly off in your suit" When Tony tries to deny it,
Fury calls him on his BS, and gets Black Widow to remind him of the
redundancies that wouldn't allow it otherwise.

He was leaving Iron Man to Rhodey after he died.
StarkAnthony - 2/7/2014, 7:28 AM
This is clearly alluded to in the movie. Nick Fury asks about Rhodey taking the suit in the donut shop, and Tony says he stole it. Fury (or Widow, don't quite remember) suggests that he couldn't have stolen it unless it was programmed to let him have it or something like that. Tony doesn't trying to disagree, and the implication is that he wanted Rhodey to take the suit, or made it so he could if he wanted to.
BailMan - 2/7/2014, 7:33 AM
Didnt Fury Ask Toney If He Had A Failsafe Programmed Into The Suite To Keep Someone From Taking It, Then Black Widow Spoke Up And Said Yes Since She Had Infiltrated His Company And Broken Into All His Files. This Happened At The Doughnut Shop The Next Morning After Rhodey Took The suite. So He Let Him Take it.
shangho - 2/7/2014, 7:41 AM
Personally I think Tony knew EXACTLY what Rhodey would do with the suit and that's why he allowed him to take it.And make no mistake,he ALLOWED him to.The Govt. Was breathing down his neck and he had to do something,if he had to turn over some tech,who better to do it than Rhodey,with an exeptionally outdated model might I add,considering his advancements by IM3
shangho - 2/7/2014, 7:42 AM
I think that this has been overthought,cool idea,but I just don't see it.Stark is an arrogant man.I think he handed over an outdated "old toy" to get the government of his back.
dethpillow - 2/7/2014, 8:31 AM
@shangho - yes i think that's a good way of putting it.

@Masterpace - sure, you could say it like that, but you'd be leaving a lot out. and thing is too... u already understand this, but if you're gonna present a case to someone who doesn't already agree with u, then this article does a great job of very articulately showing exactly why this is true.

@SupermarioworldE - u know what tho, i don't think it matters what the writers thought when they made it. who cares? it's interesting cuz sometimes they'll mention some things u might not have thought about, and i'm not saying that writers are jerks or anything, but i think i know just as much as they do most of the time. once you're done writing a thing, u aren't writing it anymore, all's you can do is give your own opinion about it, but it's just worth the same as anyone else's. so it doesn't matter how much they intended and how much they didn't. i think at least. that's how i look at any art. unless the art is actually a puzzle, and then if it is, i'm not that interested in it. i don't like puzzles. :)

@ROR - i don't know, i think about it a lot. this movie, Iron Man 3, Cap TFA, TDKR and TASM/Spider-Man 3 ... these are the movies that i think about the most. cuz all of them are messy but have a really truly great movie hiding in there. Those are the ones that make u keep thinking about them.

Great movies like Avengers, TDK, Iron Man 1, Batman Begins... there's no reason to think about great movies. Not much to say about them, they're just great.

movies like this are the train wrecks. and u can imagine something great out of them. it's almost like a hideously ugly face with one angelic feature. or a beautiful face with one terrible eyesore on it.

those are the people that everyone ends up staring at in supermarkets and thinks about after they get home. same thing with movies. u don't want a movie to be too good. but it's no fun if it's like Tim Story's FF or Catwoman either... those are just too awful to be any use to use.

Iron Man 3 is probably the most glorious train wreck we've had yet. perfect movie to figure out what it should really be.
dethpillow - 2/7/2014, 8:33 AM
that's why when you make something, u gotta realize and act like it is the final word. you're not gonna be able to add on later, probably not. u can't count on doing a One Shot on it or explaining things in interviews, once it's out of your hands it's just not you're business anymore.
Spidey10 - 2/7/2014, 9:12 AM
I hate to be that guy....but its actually pretty much explained in the movie...great article but I just assumed everyone knew this already
Spidey10 - 2/7/2014, 9:13 AM
They talked about it at Randys Donuts conveniently located on Manchester and La Cienega
beane2099 - 2/7/2014, 9:36 AM
I'll start off by saying this is well written and the references to IM 284 are a nice touch. However this seems redundant to me. The conversation between Stark and Fury at the doughnut shop seemed to convey all this information very succinctly. The rest we were able to fill in given Tony's actions throughout the movie. This explanation seems no more necessary than explaining why Stane wanted to kill Tony in IM1. But, like I said it's a good bit of writing and reflects some critical thought and a good synthesis of multiple sources of information.
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