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At this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe feels like a well-oiled machine that knows exactly what it's doing and where it's going. However, the truth is that not every idea Marvel has instantly becomes a multi-million dollar box office hit. In fact, some of the ideas never become movies at all. Joe Robert Cole is the man behind the screenplay for the upcoming Black Panther movie, but he says that when he first came to Marvel's attention, there was interest in him penning a script for an entirely different film, one based on Don Cheadle's War Machine. According to Cole...
I had written a Chinatown-style cop script and they met with me about it. At that meeting, they also said they were thinking of doing a War Machine movie. I pitched a concept and won that job to write the script but they decided, based on what Iron Man 3 was going to be, they weren't going to do War Machine anymore.
Iron Man 3 was the first film in Marvel's Phase Two, so it sounds like this conversation Joe Robert Cole describes to Complex was probably happening around the end of Phase One. It's not surprising if Marvel was playing with several different ideas regarding what to do with different characters in Phase Two. Bringing all the main heroes together with The Avengers was a feat unto itself at the time that nobody was quite sure was going to work, likely including the folks at Marvel themselves. While that film set up a place for the characters to go, which has led us to Avengers: Infinity War later this year, they likely hadn't put a great deal of work into the details, for the simple reason that if The Avengers didn't work, the rest might not happen at all.
It's unclear why the events of Iron Man 3 made a War Machine movie less likely. Perhaps the concept that Joe Robert Cole had for the film just didn't work based on where the character was going to be at the end of that film. We know that Iron Man 3 itself went through a lot of changes once upon a time, perhaps the role of War Machine was a side effect of that, and the final movie just didn't lend itself to a spinoff anymore.
One wonders if Don Cheadle knows that his character of James Rhodes was considered for his own spinoff movie once upon a time. Thus far we haven't seen any real spinoff films as all of the Marvel characters that have been introduced in support of other heroes have remained in those roles. However, recent news that things may actually be moving forward on a Black Widow movie would seem to indicate that could be changing, and if she's getting her own movie, perhaps a War Machine film could still be in the cards somewhere down the line.