When news broke a few weeks back that actor Terrence Howard had been released from the role of James Rhodes in 'Iron Man 2' and Don Cheadle would replace him, buzz on the internet reached fever pitch. How could Marvel do this? Was Howard the weakest player in an otherwise strong movie? Or was he terrific as the sidekick who would replace the hero?
The most important: What just happened?
Shortly afterwards, Howard chatted with NPR about the situation. While he shared no details, he called the re-casting "the surprise of a lifetime." Although his comments were mild it was clear he felt stung by both Marvel and possibly other members of the film's team.
Now, EW.com offers up an explanation of what may have gone wrong for Howard.
Problem #1: Money. According to EW's report, Howard was paid a huge sum for his realtively small role in the first movie. Their sources suggest Howard was the first actor to board the project, alougth a Variety article from October 2006 refutes this timeline. Allegedly, the rising star was paid more than his supporting role warranted and even more than high-risk leading man Robert Downey Jr.
Problem #2: Sub-par performance. The article goes on to say that director Jon Favreau was not happy with Howard's performance in the first film. According to unnamed sources, Favreau invested some measure of time and effort cutting the movie around these weak points.
Problem #3: We don't need no stinkin' sidekick. Predicated on problem #2, Favreau and 'Iron Man 2' screenwriter Justin Theroux reportedly were trimming the story to minimize Rhodey's involvement in the sequel.
Problem #4: Lets renegotiate! Based on #3, Marvel felt they could not pay Howard his mega-salary to be a bit player in the sequel. They tried to renegotiate Howard's contract to something more in line with what Gwenyth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges made in the first movie. The unnamed insiders claim the offer was somewhere in the ballpark of 50-80% less than what Howard was expecting.
While the story is largely unverified, it does created a plausible chain of events that led to the hiring of Don Cheadle. One wonders if Howard will now fire back publicly to refute this fairly unflattering picture.