Secret Invasion confirms major fan theory about Avengers team member
Is that you, Rhodey? *SPOILERS FOR SECRET INVASION EPISODE 4*
The twists keep coming in Secret Invasion, although the latest was spotted a mile away by die-hard Marvel fans.
For weeks, they have speculated on whether longtime Avengers member James 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – also known by the moniker War Machine – had been replaced by a Skrull imposter.
As the only card-carrying Avenger in the series, he seemed like an obvious choice for the shape-shifters to target, while a frosty conversation between himself and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) only added to people's suspicions.
That fateful chat saw Fury fired from his secretive role in national security, but funnily enough, most people were more interested in another aspect of the conversation.
At one point, Rhodey refers to Fury by his first name. In a later scene, the veteran spy is able to identify when a rival Skrull replaces Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) by remarking that nobody calls him 'Nick'.
That added yet another reason to doubt the authenticity of Secret Invasion's Rhodey and, at last, in episode 4 of the sci-fi drama, we learn that he has indeed been replaced.
Speaking to Marvel.com, Cheadle gave his candid thoughts on the big reveal: "It's fun to fold that in and know that that’s what's happening underneath all of these Rhodey scenes. Rhodes is not who he appears to be."
"It becomes sort of a cat-and-mouse game between the two of them, about what he has on Fury and if he's going to release information about Fury. Fury has to play it the right way while still trying to protect and save the planet."
Something which is still to be determined is exactly how long Rhodey has been a Skrull for, with Marvel boss Kevin Feige hinting that some of his recent appearances were, in fact, the imposter.
He explained: "We needed to have a character that one would not expect to be a Skrull. Don was on board for this reveal of playing and revealing another side of Rhodey and revealing that, yeah, Rhodey has been a Skrull."
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Feige added it won't be long until fans “understand exactly how long he’s been a Skrull," and that he likes the idea of "fans going back and watching some of the other appearances of Rhodey and realising that that wasn't him."
Prior to Secret Invasion, Cheadle recently had a small – but nevertheless, Emmy-nominated – role in Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which now seems dubious, but he could have been replaced even further back.
For instance, Rhodey was one of few superheroes to survive the "snap" committed by Thanos, but a golden opportunity for a Skrull swap would be in the disordered aftermath of that heinous attack.
Cheadle is one of the longest-serving cast members in the MCU, having played Rhodey since Iron Man 2. He inherited the role from Terrence Howard, who quit Marvel after the 2008 original.
Secret Invasion is available to stream on Disney Plus. New episodes weekly. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year.