SAN DIEGO — The Poet Laureate of our age, LL Cool J, once described himself as "the man of the hour, the tower of power." With all due respect, that torch was passed on this weekend to the biggest new cinematic character to emerge from Comic-Con: War Machine. And his mama didn't even need to tell him to knock tens of thousands of geeks out — but he did it anyway.
In case you live in a cave and the ripple effect hasn't hit you yet, Jon Favreau and his "Iron Man" posse made Comic-Con history Saturday night, unveiling dazzling new sequel footage that had fanboys swooning in the aisles like 12-year-old girls at a JoBros concert. At the end of the clip, sleazy arms dealer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) offers Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) a variety of massive weapons, only to have the buyer announce that he wants "all of them." Cue the shot of an evil-looking Iron Man doppelgänger in full attack mode, weaponry erupting from every orifice.
Moments after the ear-shattering applause in Hall H faded, we caught up with man of the hour Cheadle to discuss his tower of power.
"War Machine makes a very impactful appearance in the movie," promised the Oscar-nominated star of such films as "Hotel Rwanda" and "Crash," discussing a story line that adheres to his character's evil machinations in the "Iron Man" comics. "It's significant."
But what, exactly, is War Machine? Well, in the comics, Rhodes was a friend to Tony Stark who took over as Iron Man when the billionaire industrialist's alcoholism, purported death, or other dangers made him unable to put on the suit. Responding to a threat from Justin Hammer, Stark designed his all-out battle masterpiece — the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Model XVI, Mark I" (nicknamed "War Machine") — which Rhodes would eventually wear. Over the years, Stark and Rhodes have had many falling-outs and reconciliations, usually surrounding one's perceived misuse of the technology — and often resulting in Rock' Em, Sock 'Em Robot-esque battles between the two stubborn, super-suited men.
Whether "Iron Man 2" will follow that formula is anybody's guess, as Favreau and his team have made a habit out of sampling from various incarnations of comics while sprinkling in their own elements. But Cheadle told us that with the second film exploring the notion of a superhero's outing of himself, Tony and Rhodes aren't always going to see eye-to-eye.
"[Our relationship] has gotten deeper," explained the actor, who took over the role from Terrence Howard. "In the first film, Tony wasn't saying he was Iron Man.
"Now that he's embraced it," Cheadle said of the May 2010 film, "there's all these attendant problems and pressure and questions that all the characters surrounding him have to deal with."
MTV News is on the scene with live coverage of the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con all weekend long. Visit MTVNews.com, Splash Page, the MTV Movies Blog and Hollywood Crush for videos, interviews and the latest news on "New Moon," "Iron Man 2" and everything in between.
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