Why Did Terrence Howard Leave “Iron Man”?

Why did Terrence Howard leave Iron Man? The global success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made its main cast members superstars and lined their pockets to the tune of millions of dollars. Why would the talented actor not return for Iron Man and his part in this mega franchise?

Why Did Terrence Howard Leave Iron Man?

If you head back to the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk first arrived – you’ll notice a few differences. Namely, Edward Norton in the role of Hulk and Terrence Howard as Tony Stark’s friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Come Avengers: Endgame and those roles would be played by Mark Ruffalo and Don Cheadle respectively. But why the changes?

Norton’s protracted divorce from Marvel had a lot to with creative differences. Howard’s decision to walk away was far more simple: money. Depending on how you read into the story behind his departure, you could argue he was pushed out or, conversely, you could say it was the battle of two egos with one overcoming the other.

Why does Terrence Howard blame Robert Downey Jr. for losing role in Iron Man franchise?

As far as Terrence Howard is concerned, it’s Robert Downey Jr.’s fault why he left Iron Man. In a far-reaching and intimate interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2015, the actor, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Hustle & Flow, said he was informed by the producers of Iron Man 2 that his role was being cut down and that his salary, which had already been agreed previously, was also being cut.

Howard, who has had his fair share of off-screen troubles, says he tried to contact Downey Jr. to get his help to rectify the salary situation but Iron Man’s star refused to return his messages. As quoted on Den of Geek, Howard said: “I called [Robert Downey Jr.] and was like, ‘Look, man . . .’ Leaving messages with his assistants, called him at least 17 times that day and 21 the next and finally left a message saying, ‘Look, man, I need the help that I gave you’. Never heard from him.”

Why Did Terrence Howard Leave Iron Man?

The man behind Terryology, his own language of logic, says during Iron Man casting, he helped Downey Jr. get the role that would make him one of the most famous and well-paid actors in the world. It’s understandable that Howard was a bit miffed at the whole affair. After all, he was the first actor to be cast in Iron Man by director Jon Favreau who hired the actor with the intention of putting him in War Machine’s super-powered suit in the sequel.

Indeed, Howard had invested a lot in the character and was the highest paid member of the cast. But by Iron Man 2, after all the commercial success and critical acclaim for Downey Jr.’s performance, the producers felt War Machine’s role should be diminished. Accordingly, they offered Downey Jr. a lot more money to return for the sequel (recognising the need to keep him happy as the face of what would become The Avengers saga) and cut costs elsewhere, namely from the money that was going to Howard.

The real reason James “Rhodey” Rhodes was re-cast for Iron Man 2

This meant reneging on previous agreements. As Howard said at the time of Iron Man 2’s recasting, “…apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on, sometimes. Promises aren’t kept, and good faith negotiations aren’t always held up.”

When Howard’s agent heard Marvel’s decision to cut his salary for the sequel, he told them in no uncertain terms what he thought of it. Apparently, within 24 hours, Don Cheadle was hired.

Howard laments: “And guess who got the millions I was supposed to get. [Robert Downey Jr.] got the whole franchise, so I’ve actually given him $100 million, which ends up being a $100 million loss for me from me trying to look after somebody, but, you know, to this day I would do the same thing. It’s just my nature.”

The pair have apparently patched their fractured relationship back up. But it would have been interesting to see Howard progressing the character of Rhodes as he’s terrific in Iron Man and he and Downey Jr. have a great deal of chemistry.

Words by Dan Stephens

Dan Stephens
About the Author
Dan Stephens is the founder and editor of Top 10 Films. He's usually pondering his next list, often inspired by his adoration for 1980s Hollywood, a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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