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The Armor Wars theory that has fans buzzing

For Marvel fans, the premiere of shows like Secret Invasion and Armor Wars may be quite a ways away, but that hasn't stopped them from theorizing. Considering how far in advance Marvel tends to plan their storylines, the creatives are probably already setting up hints in 2021 shows like WandaVision and Loki, building up to later projects.

In particular, people are excited for the upcoming series Armor Wars, featuring Don Cheadle's return as James "Rhodey" Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine. There's no set release date yet, but it's likely that we will see this series sometime in 2022 or beyond. The Armor Wars comic book storyline that inspires the series began in 1987 with Iron Man Vol. 1 #225, in which Tony Stark discovers that someone has stolen his technology and is selling it to supervillains. Given that Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is no longer a part of the MCU, there are bound to be differences between the original story and the screen version, but the main plotline about Stark's stolen technology will almost certainly be the focus of Armor Wars. With the series starring Cheadle's character Rhodey, it will also likely explore more about his experience living with a disability after his spine collapsed in Captain America: Civil War.

While there are obviously a lot of different directions that Armor Wars could go with the MCU's adaptation of the classic comics storyline, one fan seems to be quite confident in their theory for the show.

An in-depth fan theory hints at how Justin Hammer might return to the MCU

This specific theory, introduced in a Reddit thread by u/LittleYellowFish1, hinges on the return of an Iron Man 2 villain named Justin Hammer, played by actor Sam Rockwell. According to the theory, the smarmy, ambitious businessman manages to convince the U.S. government that he's become a better person and starts working with them again. Claiming it will be used for defense only, Hammer introduces a new and improved design for a suit similar to Stark's called Firepower. While all of this is happening, Rhodey, as Iron Patriot, would be "tasked with taking down criminals and foreign threats that have developed technology allegedly stolen from Stark's designs, including Stilt Man, Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man." Dealing with conflicting feelings after Stark's death, Rhodey sees it as his responsibility to protect Stark's technology from those who wish to use it for malicious reasons. 

One key aspect of this theory is how it connects to another upcoming series, Ironheart. Armor Wars could easily introduce Riri Williams (to be played by Dominique Thorne) when Rhodey becomes "conflicted when he's also told to go after younger individuals," and Williams in particular. Williams' origin as Ironheart in the comics comes after she reverse-engineers one of Stark's suits, learning how to build her own. Though their relationship will likely off to a rough start, Rhodey and Williams could develop a mentor-like partnership, which would be very intriguing to see. As it's unclear whether Ironheart or Armor Wars will be released first, whichever series premieres earlier could smoothly introduce the other through this connecting plotline.

Rhodey becomes War Machine once again to take down Hammer

After some political intrigue, Rhodey realizes he's been mislead and uses an old War Machine suit to break out the people he imprisoned. In this theory, there is also another hidden tie to Stark and Rhodey's past through Hammer's assistant, Zeke. His real name? Ezekiel Stane, son of Obadiah (Jeff Bridges). Hurt by Hammer in his careless use of the Firepower suit, audiences are led to believe Stane dies. Thus begins a battle between Hammer and Rhodey, who is working alongside all the people he freed, including Williams. After successfully overpowering Hammer, Rhodey decides to spare his life and hand him over to the government. 

In a surprise final scene, u/LittleYellowFish1 proposes that the younger Stane, who is "alive but paralysed from the neck down, is shown discussing surgery to fix his body with an advanced form of nanotechnology he designed." This would set up another worthy villain to use in future projects, like Ironheart or a second season of Armor Wars. Stane has plenty of reason to harbor a vendetta against Stark, Rhodey, and those close to them, and this Armor Wars storyline would be the perfect supervillain origin.

Fans on Reddit really took to this theory, with one commenter even saying that it "felt like reading [the] plot section in wikipedia." This Armor Wars theory is definitely well-thought out and feels plausible. Nevertheless, we will have to wait and see exactly what Marvel has in store for Armor Wars.