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It’s rare that I find things that I don’t like about the MCU, but there are a few. As I discussed yesterday, I approved of “Fat Thor” because it was handled fairly well. However, it wasn’t handled perfectly; to-wit: War Machine. I felt that the writers unnecessarily threw Rhodey under the bus. They gave him all the mean-spirited lines, and a couple were particularly bad. This reminds me of my tweet during the Infinity War watch party.
The scene is here. Start at 1:04.
If it weren’t for Peter’s completely irrational reaction, none of the 14,000,605 alternate timelines would have occurred (including the successful one). People do stupid things for one of four reasons that I can identify: 1) They’re stupid; 2) they’re kidding; 3.) they’re trolling you; or 4.) they’re acting emotional, thus abandoning all logic. Regardless of which category you think Peter is in, he behaved stupidly, and I don’t see why the writers had to do that. They could easily have made Thanos too strong for Mantis. Unfortunately, this seems to be how they write. They want a clear scapegoat among the heroes, being someone that consistently goes in a bad direction.
Rhodey didn’t cause Thanos’s arrival in Endgame. His issues were different; he was simply an asshole. First, let’s look at the discussion of the Infinity Stones.
Everyone’s comments and facial expressions seem to show concern for Thor, except Scott Lang, who as always is lost and therefore not sure if Thor is kidding. He may have just been giving Thor encouragement. In any case, all of these people are goodhearted in their approach. The exception is Rhodey, who makes a joke of it with, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s dead,” and arguably Clint’s facial expression when Rhodey and he share a knowing look with each other. Then we go to the discussion of time travel.
As if designed to make sure Rhodey looked as bad as possible, they left it to him to say that time travel should have been used to kill Thanos as a baby. Everyone would have forgiven that (after all, “It’s Thanos!”), but it still had a mean feel to it, and it became yet another straw on the camel’s back (so to speak).
Then consider his scene with Nebula.
Rhodey’s question, “So he’s an idiot?” came across as rhetorical. He was clearly calling Peter an idiot with an air of frustration. Nebula’s simple response of, “Yeah,” came only after a pause and a downward glance. Of all people to be reluctant to insult someone, Nebula seemed exactly that. Here were two characters saying the same exact thing about the same exact person, yet they were coming from opposite directions. Nebula’s remarkable story arc of redemption certainly colored how I viewed all of her statements, and that’s probably true for Rhodey based on the above, who seemed to be going in the opposite direction. But that’s what I’m talking about. That’s a direct result of the writing.
Moving on, remember from yesterday’s post, once it was explicitly established that Thor’s physical condition was tied to the depression and/or PTSD, the fat jokes stopped coming, except for Rhodey. He continued to insult Thor’s condition, and it didn’t come across as playful.
Objectively, “Cheez Whiz” is a funny line, but it was done not only after we learned why Thor was in a depleted physical state, but also at the exact moment Thor was having an emotional crisis. Thor was going to sacrifice himself to atone for his perceived sin of failure, which itself resulted in depression, PTSD, and his physical condition.
I’m the kind of guy that thinks no topic is forbidden from comedy. Anything can be funny if done well. The only sin in comedy is not being funny, and I’m never offended, even if my own insecurities are the butt of the joke. I far prefer laughing at myself than wallowing in self-pity, so I believe making fun of people can be funny. But it also can be not funny. With Rhodey, it came across as mean-spirited and was completely unnecessary.
The totality of just these few scenes left me with a bad impression.
Who’s to Blame?
The blame can lie with any combination of the actor, director, and screenwriter. I don’t know who to blame, but you can see from the deleted scenes in that last clip that this was exactly what they were going for. They wanted to say something mean-spirited, and the fact that Peter Quill was thrown under the bus in Infinity War suggests that the writing is to blame. In total, I felt it debased the character. Unfortunately, I don’t see much room for him to redeem himself. I haven’t heard any mention of his return to the MCU on the big screen or on Disney+.
Have you learned to dislike Rhodey? Is there a value to these lines that I don’t appreciate?