Iron Man 2 saw James “Rhodey” Rhodes take Stark’s silver Mark 2 armor and with the help of Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) turn it into the heavily armed War Machine. For Iron Man 3, Marvel Studios took some ideas from the comics and used them to drastically change the appearance of Rhodey’s duds into the Iron Patriot. - Screen Rant on War Machine

Tony Stark doesn't seem to be into the practice of sharing his best technology/inventions with the US Government. My question is, why didn't he take his armor back from Rhodey?

He could have perhaps:

  • Hijacked the suit's computers remotely

  • Gone in with his own suit to take the Mark 2 suit by force when not being worn.


“When last we saw Jim Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle, he was flying away from Tony at the end of Iron Man 2 wearing the Mark 2 suit that he had taken from Tony’s house. What we learn in the beginning of Iron Man 3 is that they’ve made an arrangement. Tony has let Rhodey have this suit; he’s using it in conjunction with the US Government..." - Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige

If this is the case, when & why did Stark make that agreement?

  • It doesn't appear, based on the films, that Stark and Rhodes made such an agreement, rather it's inferred from the beginning of Iron Man 3

  • Again, Tony doesn't seem like the type to share his weapons with the government; In fact he is, if I understand correctly, not happy about having designed and sold weapons in the past.

  • The provided answer is indeed correct. I would like to add, however, that the Iron Man 3 Prelude comic book shows that Tony did take back the Mark 2 armor; he simply gave Rhodey a custom-made War Machine suit instead. This suit was then painted to become the Iron Patriot armor shown in Iron Man 3.
    – DanDoubleL
    Sep 14, 2017 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


Tony's central concern with the government's attempts to appropriate the Iron Man armor was borne out of their intentions with the program: To weaponize the technology, and to create an army of the machines.

Having being a former arms manufacturer, Tony is well aware of the Military Industrial Complex embedded within US politics; and having been enlightened to the error of his ways, has resolved to deconstruct such a relationship (or at least no longer participate in it). Tony is thus positioned on one side of a long historical debate, in which it is perceived that America has existed in a constant state of war since WWII in order to feed the arms industry: hence its aggressive foreign policy.

He doesn't want the US Gov. to seize control of the Iron Man technology because he is aware he will be contributing to this. Justin Hammer represents Tony's antithesis (and former temperament) and demonstrates exactly what happens when such technology finds its way into malevolent forces.

As a Technocratic Altruist, Tony believes that power can only be wielded by those who have earned the right and proven their judgment to be benevolent. He does not trust the US government in this regard (probably because of their being compromised to said Military Industry), but he does trust Rhodey (eventually).

Stark is still a patriot, and although he doesn't want to let Iron Man be used as a political football: he does want to protect his country from threats both foreign and domestic.

James Rhodes represents the perfect compromise: someone who will work in the interest of the US Military, but not the industry that sustains war to fund it. As a soldier he is accountable to his superiors, but Tony trusts that his judgement is pure enough that he will not allow himself to be used for ignoble purposes. He trusts Rhodey.

The Iron Patriot is more of a propaganda piece than an extensive, widespread weapon anyway. He exists to send a message and consolidate the ideals of american freedom: he is an updated Captain America, and is subject to the same pageantry and showcasing that Cap experiences in Captain America.

As long as one exists, he is a symbol. If they are mass produced, they become weapons.

  • It seems YouTube embedding has finally been ennobled by utterly tangential use. But nevermind, I'm sure it contributes to the artistic impression of an otherwise interesting answer. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 29, 2014 at 11:55
  • 'It seems YouTube embedding has finally been ennobled by utterly tangential use.' ... what are you trying to say here? this reads as a contradiction. It would surely be more tangential to explain the whole MIC debate than to quote Eisenhower, directly. Iron Man was conceived as commentary to Eisenhowers' anxieties... Jun 29, 2014 at 12:21

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