At the end of Iron Man 3 we're left thinking that the Iron Patriot armor, a recoloring/rebranding of the War Machine armor in the MCU, was the only one of Stark's armors left. It was left in the possession of Rhodes, who preferred War Machine over Iron Patriot.

By the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Iron Patriot armor seems to have been retired, because Rhodes shows up to fight in the War Machine armor and at the end of the movie is still War Machine for his role in the New Avengers.

Websites and toy lines seem to indicated that both the Iron Patriot and War Machine armors, seen in Iron Man 3 and Age of Ultron respectively, are the War Machine MK II. I compared some images available of movie stills and toys, and there doesn't seem to be any changes. So, it seems for Ultron, War Machine just had the patriotic colors stripped.

The closest I've seen to an explanation is some articles claiming that they didn't need an "Iron Captain America" in Age of Ultron, so the design was changed back so there was only one red, white and blue character on the Avengers. This, however, was speculation, and I've not seen it backed up by any producer/writer/director statements.

Is there any concrete information given as to why the Iron Patriot design and branding was scrapped? Either an in-universe explanation from somewhere in the MCU franchise (webisodes or TV episodes included), or an out-of-universe answer by someone involved with the making of Age of Ultron.

  • 7
    It probably didn't do as well in focus groups after blowing up Air Force One and kidnapping the President Oct 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • 4
    @JasonBaker Maybe in American focus groups. Other countries may have loved it.
    – user31178
    Oct 21, 2015 at 22:10
  • 1
    I'm sure Iron patriot was scrapped after they found out AIM(the main people behind Iron Patriot) was behind the Mandarin, and Rhodey wanted WarMachine back.
    – CBredlow
    Oct 21, 2015 at 22:40
  • Why was it repainted, you mean?
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2015 at 0:05
  • "Avengers: Age of Ultron - The War Machine armor returned to its original paint scheme. During the fight against Ultron, S.H.I.E.L.D. deployed War Machine to fight against the Ultron Sentries attacking the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier with the Vision help. After Ultron was defeated, Rhodes joined the new Avengers when Tony left the team."
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2015 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


First of all, it's worth proving that Iron Patriot and War Machine are simply the same Iron Man suit created by Tony Stark with a different paint job. From Iron Man 3;

President Ellis: Central to my Administration’s response to this terrorist event, is a newly minted resource. I know him as Colonel James Rhodes, the American people will soon know him as the Iron Patriot.
Bill Maher: And how is President Ellis responding? By taking the guy they call War Machine and giving him a paint job.
Joan Rivers: Same suit, but painted red white and blue. Look at that. And they also renamed him Iron Patriot. You know, just in case the paint was too subtle.

It should be fairly clear that the red, white and blue paint job that turns War Machine into Iron Patriot is quite obviously inspired by Captain America, a war hero who was found nearly 70 years after he was lost and helped save the world in the Battle of New York by leading The Avengers. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we see that at least a part of the Smithsonian is dedicated to Captain America and his Howling Commandos, so we know that people think highly of him - including President Ellis, who is quoted as saying "Welcome Back, Cap" somewhere in the Smithsonian.

In Iron Man 3, Iron Patriot (which was worked on by AIM, who turn out to be bad guys) is stolen and used to blow up Air Force One and kidnap President Ellis (as pointed out by @JasonBaker and @CBredlow in the questions comments). I'm willing to bet that this didn't help the public perception of Iron Patriot, but I also don't think it was the 'killing blow'.

In between Iron Man 3 (when we last see Iron Patriot) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (when we see that James 'Rhodey' Rhodes using War Machine again), Captain America and a few of his friends find out that SHIELD has been infiltrated by Hydra, release all of SHIELDs files to the public and dismantle SHIELD as much as they can. In effect, they are whistleblowers, and we know from real life that the US Government isn't a huge fan of those - we actually see Natasha Romanoff having to defend her actions to the government at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I think it is safe to say that after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, having the only Government owned 'superhero' painted to look like the person who 'outed' SHIELD (and at least one Senator) as having been compromised by a cult of deeply corrupt neo-Nazi's began to seem like poor PR.

  • 2
    The wikia points out that everyone (commentators, Tony Stark, 'Rhodey', etc) thinks that the paint-job is crass and quite funny.
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:48
  • @Richard I never said it wasn't ill-advised to begin with. Oct 22, 2015 at 11:48

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