Disney has apparently pulled an audible with its streaming/theatrical release plans tonight, with Deadline reporting that Armor Wars—originally announced as a six-episode TV series focused on Don Cheadle’s Marvel Cinematic Universe character War Machine—will now be a movie, instead.
Armor Wars was originally announced back in late 2020, with the implication that it would take its story from the comic series of the same name, in which Cheadle’s Jim Rhodes is forced to recover Tony Stark’s old gadgets after they fall into a whole bunch of wrong hands. The project was being treated as a TV show, eventually fated to land on Disney+, as recently as this month’s D23 expo, when Cheadle and MCU boss man Kevin Feige got up on stage to talk about it as a series.
It’s not clear what’s shifted here; Deadline doesn’t quote any sources as to why the change has been made, or where Armor Wars will fit into the company’s already elaborate Phase Four, Five, or Six movie plans. (Collectively known as “The Multiverse Saga,” which is great news for the alternate universe versions of ourselves who aren’t already completely exhausted by multiverse stuff at this point.) Cheadle, obviously, is still attached, but it’s not clear if series head writer Yassir Lester (who co-starred with Cheadle on his Showtime show Black Monday) is still on board. [Update: Deadline’s now reporting that Lester is still involved as writer.] And there’s no word yet as to who might end up directing this thing, even as news broke this week that another long-anticipated Marvel movie, Mahershala Ali’s Blade, had just lost director Bassam Tariq.
All in all, a profoundly strange move, especially as our various entertainment megagiant overlords continue to wrestle with the question of what, exactly, the point of their big streaming offerings actually is. Did someone run the math on Armor Wars, and decide the budget didn’t make sense without a big box office return to accompany it? Was the story deemed too slight to support six hours of TV storytelling? Or was a spot on the movie release calendar just looking a bit too anemic? It’s possible we might never know, but one thing’s for sure: Armor Wars is a movie now, we guess.