10:35am PT by Rebecca Ford
'Iron Man 3's' Don Cheadle on Iron Patriot, a Fourth Film and 'Avengers 2' (Video)
Iron Man 3 not only sees the return of leading man Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, but also the return of Don Cheadle as Stark's longtime friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes.
Cheadle, who joined the franchise in Iron Man 2, replacing Terrence Howard, gets a new suit this time around, and a lot more involvement.
"It was good to come back and be in an action movie, and actually be in the action," Cheadle tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Cheadle got to be a part of some of the biggest action sequences, sometimes with his suit -- now called Iron Patriot -- and sometimes without.
"There was a couple weeks where it was just me and the stunt crew while other things were happening," says Cheadle. "To get to do all that wire work and all that physical work, is something that was really exciting."
The third Iron Man film, directed by Shane Black, sees Tony Stark dealing with insomnia because of the things he saw during The Avengers, and having to go up a terrifying terrorist named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).
"Marvel understands how to do movies like this," says Cheadle of the franchise's success. "They get that they need to combine this spectacle that we have, all this incredible CGI that happens, but it needs to be grounded with real people inside of the frame that we can cheer for and be scared of."
Downey agrees that his character's emotional journey is what keeps the story rooted in reality.
"I think that Tony has had a very human journey for someone who is part of this Marvel universe," Downey says.
"Seeing him -- mature is probably the wrong word -- but seeing him be able to flex as he goes through all these different challenges, and kind of maintain his wit and his integrity in some way," he adds. "He didn't really have integrity when we first met him, and then he gained it as he used technology to save his own skin."
While Iron Man 3 doesn't open in the U.S. until May 3, it has already done big business overseas, raking in more than $300 million at the international box office in its first week.
Cheadle says that depending how the film does at the box office, there's "potential" for a fourth installment.
"No one has been specific about what that might look like or what the story could even be," he says. "First we have to see how this one plays and if people have an appetite for it, and then we'll figure out if there's a way to convince Robert to come back and do another one."
And while James Rhodes was not a part of The Avengers, Cheadle says he's open to appearing in the sequel, which Joss Whedon is currently writing. He adds that he has not spoken to anyone about any specifics, however.
"It would be great to see Rhodes show up," he says.
Iron Man 3 opens in theaters in the U.S. on May 3.
Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford