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HomeVideoHow Iron Man 2 Recast Terrence Howard’s Rhodey Clarified By Don Cheadle

How Iron Man 2 Recast Terrence Howard’s Rhodey Clarified By Don Cheadle

More than a decade since he took over the role of MCU’s War Machine, Don Cheadle clarifies how Iron Man 2 recast Terrence Howard’s James Rhodes.

Don Cheadle clarifies how Iron Man 2 recast Terrence Howard’s Rhodey/War Machine with him. Howard was part of the original Iron Man cast, alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. But while his co-stars continued to be an integral part of the MCU throughout the Infinity Saga, Marvel Studios quietly replaced Howard with Cheadle as Tony Stark’s trusted best friend in Iron Man 2. More than a decade since that actor switch, rumors about what went down behind-the-scenes persist, but now, the longtime Marvel star is finally clearing up what really happened.


Ahead of his return to the MCU via the much-hyped Secret Invasion on Disney+, Cheadle speaks to GQ (via The Direct) about War Machine’s Iron Man 2 casting. When prompted with a comparison to the recasting of Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he denies that he forced out Howard from the role, saying that Marvel had already decided to move on when he was contacted. And while he doesn’t reveal what exactly led to him being recruited to take over the role, he admits he didn’t have long to decide. Read his full story below:

“I Aunt Viv’d him? I did not move Terrence [Howard] out of a role. He was not… They had decided that they weren’t. That was not happening and it was an open part. I was at my kid’s laser tag birthday party, and they called me and said, ’This is what’s happening, we’re giving you the offer, if you don’t say yes, we’re going to the next person, this is going to happen very fast.’ So they said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and take an hour and decide if you want to do it?’ I said– It was a six-movie deal. I was like, ‘In an hour, I have to decide? What are the other movies?’ They’re like, ‘It’s going to be these Avengers. It’s going to be these many Iron Mans. This is what it is, so you kind of have to say yes or no, if you’re in or out.’ Like what’s the trajectory of the character going to be… Well, they’re like, ’We can’t… We don’t know any of that, but this is what it is, so you’ve got an hour.’ I said, ‘I’m at my kid’s laser tag birthday party.’ They’re like, ‘Oh, take two hours.’

“So we played laser tag for two hours, and I was talking to my wife and we just kind of thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could, and we just took a flyer and said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it.’”

Related: Iron Man’s Complete MCU Timeline Explained

Why Marvel Studios Replaced Terrence Howard As MCU’s War Machine

War Machine in Iron Man

Cheadle replacing Howard as War Machine was the very first case of recasting in the franchise. Since the MCU maintains a single main continuity, actor switches are rare in the universe, although the existence of the multiverse in the Multiverse Saga now allows Marvel to introduce variants of characters played by different actors. Still, back in 2010, Cheadle taking over as Rhodey in Iron Man 2 was a big conversation topic. It didn’t help that Marvel Studios remained mum on the matter, leaving space for speculation. Subsequently, Howard revealed that his MCU exit boiled down to a salary dispute.

For a while, there was a conflict between Howard and Downey. The former claimed that Marvel Studios couldn’t properly compensate him because of his co-star’s inflated salary after the success of Iron Man, which was set up to fail. Meanwhile, RDJ continued to deny he had anything to do with Howard losing the role of War Machine. Luckily, after years of tension between the former co-stars, the pair finally mended their relationship, deciding to leave their previous disagreement in the past.

Since then, War Machine’s role in the MCU has expanded, as he is set to make his next MCU appearance in Secret Invasion ahead of headlining his own movie, Armor Wars. It’s unclear what Howard’s overall relationship with Marvel Studios is, but as the Multiverse Saga continues, there’s a window of opportunity to bring him back as War Machine alongside Cheadle’s version. As seen in Loki and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, variants can be played by different actors, and the MCU can take advantage of that to see Howard’s Rhodey actually becoming War Machine as he was supposed to in Iron Man 2.

More: Every Marvel End-Credits Scene Explained

Source: GQ (via The Direct)

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