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Secret Invasion wrecks War Machine’s most emotional MCU moment

Published Jul 30th, 2023 8:18PM EDT

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Going into Secret Invasion, we knew that War Machine (Don Cheadle) might be a Skrull, and we got our answer fairly quickly. We also knew that James Rhodes would be back for Armor Wars, so whatever would happen by the Secret Invasion finale, we’d get a variant of Rhodey back.

Now that the Disney Plus has ended, we seem to have a definitive answer about Skrull-Rhodey, one that can generate amazing heartbreak when thinking about the last Avengers movies. But Secret Invasion is so bad it ruins the entire heartbreak experience, and I’ll explain. Spoilers will follow below.

When did the Skrulls replace War Machine?

Marvel confirmed in the most boring way that Rhodey was a Skrull in episode 4 when we saw Raava coming out of the shower to then transform into Rhodey.

I told you back then that I’d love it for Marvel to tell us that the Skrulls replaced Rhodey many years before Secret Invasion. Specifically, they took him right after Captain America: Civil War. I thought such a scenario would turn Armor Wars into a great TV show.

But then Secret Invasion episode 5 happened, where we learned Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) was still working for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) by the end of Endgame. So the invasion only started recently. Still, that wouldn’t have prevented the Skrull rebels from simply replacing Rhodes much earlier than that.

Now that the Secret Invasion finale is out, it seems like Rhodes has been asleep in the Skrull pods for a long time. He’s in a hospital gown reminiscent of the one he wore in Civil War. Marvel has yet to confirm the Skrulls took Rhodey all those years ago. I might have welcomed this twist, but Secret Invasion is so bad that making Rhodie a Skrull becomes a major MCU plot hole.

Why I’d like War Machine to have been a Skrull since Civil War

Rhodey is the best friend of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). That’s how he got the War Machine gig. The first thought that comes to mind when you realize the Skrulls might have replaced Rhodey in Civil War is that Rhodey never got to see Tony Stark die. He was never there for his friend. That’s incredibly sad, but it would be an amazing upset.

You then realize how many awesome moments featuring James Rhodes we’ve had since Civil War.

Like Rhodey welcoming back Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his Avengers early in Infinity War once it’s clear to him the Earth needs all its Avengers. That would be an incredible development for Raava and a great way to stay in character.

Or when Rhodey fought and suffered with the Avengers throughout Infinity War.

Or going with the Avengers to the Garden to find and kill Thanos (Josh Brolin). Wait, what? This is the Secret Invasion plot detail that ruins our heartbreak over Rhodey, and I’ll get back to it in a second.

Because we have more great Rhodey moments in those movies, and learning it was Raava all along would be sad, but also incredibly impactful.

Like Rhodey getting close to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) early in Endgame. He was the one keeping a tab on all the bad stuff that Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) was doing as Ronin. And Rhodes found Ronin.

There’s also the amazing bond between Rhodey and Nebula (Karen Gillan) that developed during those five years. Or Rhodey is obviously getting close to Carol Danvers (Brie Larson).

Not to mention Rhodey’s amazing interpretation of time travel and his joke about killing Baby Thanos. Rhodey, we learn in Endgame, was a huge movie buff.

And, of course, Rhodey played a key role in the Time Heist and the Battle of Earth that followed it.

You might hate the thought of Rhodey being Raava, but it would be an amazing twist for the MCU. And if Raava was Rhodey for all these years, I’m sad to see her die in the Secret Invasion finale.

She was incredibly committed to the role of infiltrating the Avengers. And I dare say she became Rhodes once Thanos killed half of all living beings in the universe. What better way to serve the Skrulls than to help fight all the wrongs on Earth as an Avenger?

The big plot hole

Remember the Garden detail above? If it was Raava-Rhodey with the Avengers killing Thanos, then it’s a huge plot hole. That planet is ripe for becoming the home of Skrulls. We need an explanation for why that didn’t happen. Especially if Raava saw it. You don’t need Fury’s help at this point. You just head there and take it over.

If Marvel will make it official that the Skrulls replace Rhodey in Civil War, which is the scenario I’d love, then it needs a watertight explanation for the Garden. If Raava became Rhodey after Endgame, say during one of his medical checkups, then the Garden doesn’t matter as much. It’s still a plot hole because Raava would have Rhodey’s memories. And Captain Marvel would be aware of the Garden too.

That’s another way Secret Invasion disappoints. The story makes no sense that it doesn’t let you suffer. You focus more on the inconsistencies than grieving that the Rhodey you loved in those Avengers movies might have been a Skrull for years.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.