Replacing Terrence Howard.

Don Cheadle Reflects on Replacing Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2

It’s hard to rewatch Iron Man without smirking at the scene near the end of the film where Terrence Howard’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes briefly stares at Tony Stark’s silver-plated Mark II armor, clearly thinking about suiting up and joining his best friend in the movie’s final battle against Obadiah Stane, before remaking, “Next time, baby.” Because unfortunately, there wouldn’t be a next time for Howard.

Only a few months after Iron Man hit theaters, Marvel announced that Howard wouldn’t return for the film’s upcoming sequel. And in 2010, it was Don Cheadle who fulfilled the character’s promise to don his own armor in Iron Man 2. News of the recast stunned fans when it began making the rounds in late 2008. But in a new interview with GQ, Cheadle used the opportunity to clear the air about how the opportunity came along. 

Cheadle confirmed earlier reports claiming that he only had a few hours to decide whether he wanted to join the film’s cast. However, he dispelled the interviewer’s suggestion that he “Aunt Viv’d” (a reference to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) Howard out of the role, insisting that Marvel had already dismissed Howard from the franchise before calling him up. Regardless, it sounds as though they reached out at an inconvenient time.

“I was at my kid’s laser tag birthday party,” said Cheadle. “They called me and said, ‘This is what’s happening and we’re giving you the offer. If you don’t say yes then we’re going to the next person. This is going to happen very fast. Why don’t you take an hour and decide if you want to do it.’ It was a six-movie deal! In an hour I have to decide?”

The studio went on to explain that the remaining five films would revolve around the Avengers as a team. However, when Cheadle asked about his own character’s arc, they confessed that they still hadn’t worked that part out yet. But they did give him an extra hour to decide when he told them he was at a birthday party.

“So we played laser tag for two hours,” added Cheadle. “And I was talking to my wife and we thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could.”

Almost 13 years after his first appearance as Rhodes, Cheadle has become one of the MCU’s most valuable players. He will return in Marvel’s Secret Invasion series on Disney+, which will premiere sometime this year. Beyond that, he will also be back on the big screen in Armor Wars, which will put his character at the forefront of a battle to reclaim Tony Stark’s technology.

“In every successive film, he’s coming more and more out of Tony’s shadow and becoming his own person,” explained Cheadle. “But we still haven’t explored who he is and really dug into that yet. That’s what the movie is for.”

Have you been happy with Cheadle’s performance after he took over from Terrence Howard? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Iron Man by Fraction & Larroca: The Complete Collection Vol. 1

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Terrence Howard.