Surprisingly enough, Iron Man‘s (Robert Downey Jr.) two closest friends in the Marvel Cinematic Universe never directly interacted onscreen until the 22nd installment of the film franchise. Throughout Tony Stark’s time as the armored superhero, he remained close to Harold “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau) and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle). Both figures have had interesting arcs in the MCU thus far. Whereas Favreau directed two Iron Man films in which he appeared, Cheadle took over the role of War Machine from Terrence Howard ahead of Iron Man 2.
In total, Tony appeared in 10 MCU films by the end of Avengers: Endgame. Once a weapons manufacturer for the U.S. military, Tony used his technical knowledge and immense finances to invent mechanized Iron Man suits. He then used those suits and protected the world against dangerous threats under the special alias. Though he eventually became a vital member and leader of the Avengers, Tony was subsequently plagued by the internal struggles that came along with being a superhero. Thankfully, he had a few confidants on his side as he experienced some important soul-searching.
Throughout the MCU, Happy was present in seven films thus far, acting as Tony’s chauffeur and former Head of Security at Stark Industries. Over time, that professional relationship transformed into a personal bond. While Happy assisted with behind-the-scenes elements, Rhodey, a colonel in the Air Force, worked with Tony on the frontlines. Rhodey eventually got his own armored suit and doubled as War Machine on key missions with his friend during the Iron Man movies and Captain America: Civil War. Though Rhodey was sidelined for major Avengers moments, he was present for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. In fact, there were five films that featured Tony, Happy, and Rhodey. Yet, as pointed out by a Reddit user, Happy and Rhodey didn’t interact in the franchise until Tony’s funeral.
Even though Happy and Rhodey never shared dialogue with one another, they did appear in the same frame during a few scenes. In Iron Man, they passed by each other without making any kind of eye contact, indicating that they weren’t mutual friends. Shockingly, the two didn’t have any moments together in future MCU installments despite their presence. It seemed as though the franchise kept the focus on Tony’s unique bonds with the respective men rather than create one big circle of friends.
That notion changed in the third act of Endgame when Happy and Rhodey attended Tony’s funeral. The two men attended the somber event and actually stood next to each other as Happy’s hand rested on Rhodey’s shoulder. By then, it was clear that they got to know each other, but their interactions were not directly presented in the MCU. With Happy and Rhodey carrying on Tony’s legacy in the franchise, it’s possible that future movies can give the two characters to build their own friendship.
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