James Rhodes is a colonel in the U.S. Air force; and is a jet pilot, and Aerospace engineer. He is a good friend of Tony Stark, and is the link between Stark Industries and the military in the department of acquisitions.
Colonel James Rhodes attends a ceremony to present Tony Stark with an award for his work, but Stark is not in attendance. Tony's right-hand man Obadiah Stane accepts the award in Tony's honor. Rhodes later finds Tony partying in a casino. Next day, in a flight, Tony talks with Rhodes. Rhodes is unhappy about Tony's lax attitude, and Tony tries to get his old friend to relax. Before long they are drunk and leering at the stewardesses. Tony arrives at a military outpost in the Middle East to demonstrate his company's latest project - the Jericho, a super-missile system. After the demonstration, Tony goes off with the convoy that is soon attacked by terrorists.
Months later, after his escape, Stark walks over more sand dunes when a couple of US helicopters fly overhead. A group of soldiers, led by Rhodes, come across Tony. Rhodes is overjoyed to find that his friend is alive. Shortly after, Tony appears before a group of reporters and announces that he intends to shut down Stark Industries' weapons manufacturing division immediately. Tony comes to visit Rhodes and asks for help with a new private project. Rhodes does not agree with Tony's approach; he thinks Stark is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of his capture and needs time to recover. In a Middle East village, terrorists are rounding up civilians for capture & execution when they are confronted by a mysterious figure in red and gold. Iron Man has arrived. Within seconds, he defeats the terrorists and destroys the weapons they had obtained.
As Iron Man leaves the area, two F-22 jets spot him. Col. Rhodes is asked about the status of any new developments. He contacts Tony, who claims that he knows nothing about what is happening. Iron Man tries to outrun the jets but they are too much for him. Tony calls Rhodes and reveals that he is responsible for the "unidentified craft." Rhodes is furious about Tony sending in unauthorised equipment, and horrified when Tony explains that the "equipment" is actually himself. Iron Man is hit by one fighter jet, sending him flying into the wing of the second jet. The pilot is forced to eject, but the parachute fails to open. Iron Man, still under fire, manages to fly in and successfully deploy the parachute in time to save the pilot's life. Tony convinces Rhodes to pass off what happened with the jets as a "training exercise." Days later, Stane arrives at Tony's house and paralyzes him with a sonic weapon. Obadiah yanks out the power source from Tony's heart, taunting him all the while. After he leaves, Tony realizes that he has only one hope for survival - the preserved Arc Reactor that Pepper gave him in a display case. He gets the power source installed just as Rhodes arrives, who had been earlier informed on what was happening from Pepper.
Rhodes watches Tony suit up, awestruck at the Iron Man costume, saying that it's the "coolest" thing he has ever seen. As Tony flies away, Rhodes looks at the prototype silver suit Tony built earlier... then shakes his head and mumbles "Next time, baby." Acting on Tony's orders, he is able to prevent the military from getting involved in Tony's fight against Stane by passing it off as a routine training exercise. Days later, Rhodes holds a press conference about the incident with the two robots and tries to pass it off as a training exercise, just before Tony exposes himself as Iron Man.
Iron Man 2
James Rhodes is called upon to write a report analysing Iron Man. He is used to try and get the Iron Man armor handed over to the US Government. Later, Tony gets drunk at his birthday party because he knows he is dying of palladium poisoning. Rhodes puts on the Mark II armor to stop Tony, who is wearing the Mark IV, and putting his party guests at risk. After the brawl, Rhodes flies back to the airbase. The Mark II is upgraded into the "War Machine". Rhodes is selected as the pilot.
During Justin Hammer's display of Hammer Drones at the Stark Expo, Ivan Vanko takes control of the drones and the War Machine armor, trying to use them to destroy Iron Man. Agent Romanoff of S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to give Rhodes control over his armor and he uses it to aid Iron Man in his fight against the drones. Iron Man and War Machine are then faced by a new and improved Whiplash. The pair defeat Whiplash and Rhodes decides to keep the suit. Stark and Rhodes are then awarded medals for their bravery.