In an interview about "Iron Man 3" on March 21, Marvel producer Kevin Feige spoke of Don Cheadle's role as the Iron Patriot in "Iron Man 3". As one could see in the trailer, there is a patriotic red, white, and blue paint job on the Mark II suit.
Where the Iron Patriot starts his journey
According to Feige, Rhodes was last seen wearing the Mark II armor in "Iron Man 2" and launched from the same roof top in which Tony Stark and Potts kissed for the first time. At the beginning of "Iron Man 3" Feige had mentioned a bit of an arrangement between the two friends.
"So, at the beginning of “Iron Man 3,” we see that the President has asked Rhodey as War Machine to get a new paint job and take on the new moniker of the Iron Patriot in order to do American business and be the American hero as opposed to The Avengers or Iron Man himself, who is sort of a separate entity. Rhodey, being a Military man, does step into that, proudly. But he’s still best friends with Tony, so he’s always giving information to Tony behind-the-scenes and I think has been doing that since he got the suit in “Iron Man 2".
Though, the Iron Patriot armor origins actually lies in another story line altogether where Norman Osborn acquired it during his tenure as the leader of the Avengers Initiative. So this is quite a spin on things.
The best of friends in "Iron Man 3"
In the first two movies, Rhodes was more of Stark's conscience sometimes to the point where Stark was probably thinking he was nagging him to death. But in "Iron Man 3", Rhodey becomes for of a closer friend than ever and as Fiege had put it, some kind of "buddy action" film. Most notably, in the third act, Feige mentions that there is a scene where both Rhodes and Stark isn't are not wearing the suits at all. They do a bit that is of an old-fashioned movie variety that is very endearing. The rapport between the two of them is amazing.
From the sound of it, Feige is indeed pleased with Cheadle's return.
"So, seeing Don back is a huge pleasure and he brings a level of authority to that part; you just believe everything he says and in keeping up with Tony, it gives us that great Shane Black banter".
See the Iron Patriot in "Iron Man 3" releasing on May 3 in theaters