Terrence Howard played James "Rhodey" Rhodes in 2008's Iron Man, but didn't return for the sequel due to a dispute over pay. Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter reportedly called for the actor to be recast in an effort to save money, allegedly believing no one would notice due to the actor's race.
Don Cheadle was enlisted to replace Howard, and got to do what his predecessor never could: suit up as War Machine. Since then, he's reprised the role in movies like Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War, later suiting up again for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
During a recent, now-deleted interview with GQ (via The Direct), it was put to Cheadle that he "Aunt Viv'd" Howard (a reference to Janet Hubert being replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).
"I Aunt Viv’d him? I did not move Terrence [Howard] out of a role," the actor stated. "He was not...They had decided that they weren’t. That was not happening and it was an open part."
Cheadle, who returns to the MCU in Secret Invasion later this year, also reflected on how he landed the role.
"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.'"
Despite not knowing what the plan for the character was from there, Cheadle went back to his son's birthday party, talked to his wife and agent, and two hours later, agreed to take on the role.
We'd say he made the right decision, and Rhodey will actually be taking centre stage in Marvel Studios' upcoming Armor Wars movie. Originally planned as a Disney+ TV series, the decision was ultimately made that this story deserved to be told on the biggest screen possible.
As for Howard, there's always a chance he could show up as a Variant in The Multiverse Saga, right?