Terrence Howard Explains Why He Didn’t Return for ‘Iron Man 2′

Published 1 year ago by

Terrence Howard RDJ Iron Man Terrence Howard Explains Why He Didnt Return for Iron Man 2

2008′s Iron Man ushered in the Age of Marvel, and the movie business hasn’t been the same since. Director’s Jon Favreau’s blockbuster origin story was a near-perfect introduction to the now-established Marvel Cinematic Universe and not only cemented the comeback of star Robert Downey Jr., but launched him into superstar status. Downey’s billionaire, playboy, genius, philanthropist Tony Stark would be joined by other charismatic stars in the form of Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America, but Downey remains Marvel’s most popular – and highest paid – poster boy.

Downey’s co-star in the first Iron Man was Terrence Howard, a fine actor who had been nominated for an Oscar for Hustle & Flow following his acclaimed turn in Crash. Howard played Stark’s best friend and ally Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, a character who – in the comics – took over for Stark as Iron Man and eventually became a superhero called War Machine. Howard was replaced by his Crash co-star Don Cheadle in 2010′s Iron Man 2, and like Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, many fans didn’t seem to mind.

There were brief rumblings three years ago regarding the change-up, but some of the details remained unknown … until Terrence Howard answered a call-in question on Bravo’s late-night chat show Watch What Happens Live and dished some surprisingly candid dirt laced with a palpable amount of vitriol. Watch the segment HERE.

Terrence Howard as Rhodey Terrence Howard Explains Why He Didnt Return for Iron Man 2

On why he didn’t return, Howard said:

“It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man … when it was time to re-up for the second one, (he) took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out.”  

The unnamed “he” is Robert Downey, Jr. , of course. Howard elaborated after host Andy Cohen commented that “The word was that you wanted the same money as Downey.” According to Howard:

“We did a three-picture deal, so that means that you did the deal ahead of time. It was going to be a certain amount for the first one, a certain amount for the second one, a certain amount for the third. They came to me with the second and said, ‘Look, we will pay you one-eighth of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.’ And I called my friend – that I helped get the first job – and he didn’t call me back for three months.”

It’s been years since then, though – Cohen asked how things are between Howard and his “friend.” Howard’s response was as dry as a post-apocalyptic wasteland:

“Oh, I love him. God’s going to bless him.”

In an industry where salary details – especially those concerning huge blockbuster movies like Marvel’s – are generally not broadcast, Howard’s revelations are surprising. Besides virtually guaranteeing that he won’t be getting a Christmas card from RDJ this year, what else can we glean from Howard’s story?

A day later, Showbizcafe.coms Tony Rico appeared on NBC’s Today and provided the monetary amounts Howard was referring to. Essentially, rather than pay Howard the $8 million for Iron Man 2 per his contract, they offered him $1 million instead. According to Howard, the money promised to him went to Robert Downey Jr. instead.  

Many franchise roles – especially the ones based on comic book superheroes  - are recast between films (Mark Ruffalo replaced Ed Norton as the Hulk, for example), and while Rhodey intervened at key points during the first Iron Man, that film was first and foremost the RDJ show. Howard was pretty solid in the role, but it was really Cheadle who put his stamp on the character  in the two sequels – there is no hard report on how much Cheadle got, but according to his IMDb.com page, his salary for Iron Man 2 was the one million dollars Howard refused.

Don Cheadle War Machine Armor Terrence Howard Explains Why He Didnt Return for Iron Man 2

Just how much of this can we take at face value? Given Marvel’s by now well-documented practice of low-balling their actors, probably a lot. We already know that RDJ reportedly received upwards of $50 million for appearing in The Avengers (that includes a backend deal, of course), and while negotiations between Downey and Marvel for The Avengers: Age of Ultron were anything but easy, he finally signed on for that film following the billion-dollar success of Iron Man 3.

Terrence Howard is evidently still quite bitter about the whole deal, that much is clear – what’s less than clear is just how Howard “helped” Downey win the role of Tony Stark. While we know that other actors – like Sam Rockwell, who would appear as Justin Hammer in the sequel – were considered for the role, not much is known about the process otherwise.

Howard is miffed about missing out on such a lucrative franchise, but it’s not as if he’s not working – he was in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, turned in a powerful dramatic turn in Prisoners, and is currently on the big screen reprising his role in The Best Man Holiday. Given the amount of respect he’s earned in Hollywood, he won’t be hurting for roles anytime soon.

On one level, we can’t blame Howard for his bitterness. On a whole other level, it’s difficult to empathize with the petty squabbling between millionaire movie stars… Howard’s face as he tells Cohen that “God will bless” Robert Downey Jr. is still priceless, though. Perhaps his best move would be to campaign for a role in the DC Movie Universe, maybe?


Terrence Howard can be seen in The Best Man Holiday, which is currently in theaters. Robert Downey Jr. will return as Iron Man in The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1st, 2015.

Source: Bravo & Today

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
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  1. Well Che

  2. God already blessed RDJ – God blessed his a## straight to the bank. Millions of dollars!! Millions of dollars!!

  3. Hiya! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the great information

  4. Well, I missed Terrance Howard in Ironman 2 and 3.
    It’s so wrong that they could afford to pay RDJ 50 million but they couldn’t
    afford to pay TH the 8 million that was part of his contract?
    2014 and there is still racism even in the movies.
    America is better than this.

    • Racist? How the hell is this racist? Not to mention Don Cheadle is a far more high profile and capable actor.

      He probably wasn’t asked back because he’s a woman beating s**theel.

  5. I prefer both Howard & Norton sf Rhodey & Banner. I loved Howard as Rhodey; the plane scene was hilarious, mostly because of Howard, RDJ actually being the straight man in that scene; the way he pushed Stark away when he was working on stuff “This ain’t for the military”. Cheadle has his strengths as an actor, but I thing Howard is essentially a better actor who’s capable of projecting a stronger presence effortlessly.. I find him to be more genuine than Cheadle. Rhodey’s a character that needs to be able to shoot from the hip & go toe to toe with someone like Stark. IMO, Cheadle can’t pull it off (as well as Howard); he comes across like a sort-of cool guy that the really cool guy (Stark) tolerates for his own reasons.

    Norton was an awesome Banner & TIH is my favorite Phase 1 film (Iron Man is Ground 0 for MCU so not a Phase 1 film…lol). Though the version of TIH that’s my favorite is with the deleted scenes (45 minutes of them) cut back in. Left in, those scenes help layer & soften the film up some. My fave scene in the film is when Banner breaks down in tears during supper with Betty & Doc. Samson.

    That said, I also really like Ruffalo as Banner; more than I like Cheadle as Rhodey, that’s for sure. Ruffalo could carry a Hulk sequel & I truly hope we get one down the road. However dark & dangerous a Hulk film needs to be, it also needs overall fun & hopeful notes to balance out the darker tones, or else it will not do well. Not because it’s a bad film (yes, this is all hypothetical) but in order for a blockbuster like that to do well, it really needs to take into account the younger audience as well as the Family market.

    Man of Steel would have been much more successful if it had some lighter notes in it; nothing to do with the quality of the film (I love MoS; my fave CBM ever) but simple strategy for a blockbuster to approach a Billion @ Box Office needs to have some Family/young kid friendly aspects to it; both TIH & MoS were the kind of m,ovies that many young kids can’t watch & Families might well choose to see on BLu Ray or whatev’. I know if I had kids under 13, I’d think long & hard whether or not to take them to MoS @ theater. It’s one of the most disturbing PG-13 films I’ve ever seen.

    Back on point; Marvel is building a nasty rep when it comes to their dealings with actors & directors. Disney/Marvel are cinematic bullies. Nice guys don’t build Shared Comic Book Cinematic Universes huh? Oh well…lol

    • Howard – yes
      Ruffalo – yes
      Norton – HELL NO! as great an actor he is, and as much as i love his works (american history x, fight club, italian job) I thought he is the least Banner of all the incarnations of Hulk. He doesn’t even look like Banner… Bana looks more like Banner than Norton ever did.

  6. awe man, its sad that had to happen between friends

  7. I understand getting bent over the studio not paying what they promised, but to turn down a $1,000,000 deal is foolish.

  8. I wish that Terrence Howard had stayed on for Iron Man 2 & 3, because I always thought Howard was a classier actor than Don Cheadle. I mean, you don’t see Terrence Howard doing foul-mouthed slapstick on “Funny or Die,” which Don Cheadle does fairly regularly. Obviously, Howard was bitter about the salary cut on his Iron Man contract; but, COME ON, Howard going sour grapes because he would make ONLY a million dollars is arrogant and petty, especially for a SUPPORTING role.

  9. I liked Howard as Rhodey better. I feel sorry for RDJ he should have made the artistic line in the sand for his partner instead he chose the money