Terrence Howard, the former Rhodey, blames Robert Downey Jr. for his exit from the Iron Man films
It’s not uncommon for roles to be handed over from one actor to other in a franchise. But the replacement of Terrence Howard, who played Rhodey in MCU’s inaugural Iron Man, remains a highly evasive and controversial exit. Although fans quickly warmed up to Don Cheadle’s War Machine, the question remains, what happened to the first Rhodey? Is Robert Downey Jr. the reason he was removed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Read further to know more.
- Terrence Howard proved expensive for Marvel
- Howard was overshadowed by RDJ in Iron Man
- Howard blames Downey out of jealousy
A Very Expensive Rhodey
Initially, Marvel had been reluctant to cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, given his elaborate history with drugs and alcohol. However, Iron Man showrunner Jon Favreau had backed Downey’s casting. “The story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert’s career”, Favreau had mentioned in a conversation with “100.3 Jack FM”. The director’s efforts turned out to be successful as Downey’s Iron Man laid the strong foundation for the wonderful MCU. It is widely agreed that without RDJ, MCU would not be where it is today.
On the other hand, Terrence Howard’s selection as Colonel James Rhodes was without any hiccups. Howard was nominated for Best Actor for his role in ‘Hustle & Flow’ at the 78th Academy Awards. Therefore, he was in great demand due to his hits, as opposed to RDJ. Consequently, the Oscar-nominated actor was the highest-paid cast member in Iron Man. He was offered somewhere between $3 and $4 million. In addition, Marvel had promised him a $5 million raise if ‘Iron Man 2’ happened, which it did but without Howard’s raise.
Downey Overshadowed Howard
After ‘Iron Man’ released, Robert Downey Jr. was received with open arms by audiences worldwide. Howard might have been the most exorbitant actor but Downey became the leading star of the film. As Marvel decided to renew the profit-making and audience-favourite movie for a sequel, Robert Downey Jr.’s value also went up. This led to Howard’s screen time as Rhodey for ‘Iron Man 2‘ getting trimmed and had consequences for their contracts, too. Downey ended up getting rewarded with a fees hike at the expense of Howard’s paycheque.
This was strictly not welcomed by Howard, who expressed that he was entitled to the $8 million promised to him. He was dissatisfied with the stingy $1 million on the table, almost one-eighth of what he had expected, and inevitably exited. Although it remains unclear whether he left or was removed, he was certainly overshadowed by Downey’s growing stature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One wonders if Howard made the right choice by exiting a franchise that was set to take the world by storm. Would it have been better to remain in the MCU for fewer dollars to be a part of the bigger picture?
Howard Blames Downey
The ‘Empire’ star blames Downey for losing the contractual tug-of-war with Marvel. Howard claims that he had given up $1 million from his ‘Iron Man’ salary which went to Downey but received no favour in return for it. He has been vociferous about his disappointment with the Marvel star on record.
In a 2015 “Rolling Stone” interview, the actor recounted that he used to phone Downey 17 to 21 times a day, leaving voice messages saying, ”Look, man, I need the help that I gave you”. But Howard said he never heard back from RDJ. He also expressed the same in a conversation with Andy Cohen, “I called my friend, that I helped get the first job, and he didn’t call me back for three months”.
Besides blaming Downey for his removal from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he also harbours bitterness, almost bordering on jealousy, against Downey. According to Howard, the money that RDJ acquired during his run with Marvel was meant for him, “Guess who got the millions I was supposed to get? He 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”, Howard expressed in the Rolling Stone interview.
After being grouchy due to reduced pay and then branding the dollars earned by Downey as his, it seems like Terrence Howard has put money before work and burning bridges over building creative relations. Is it fair to blame RDJ for his removal when he could not manage to deal with the changing reality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
What do you think about Terrence Howard blaming RDJ for his Marvel exit? Share with us in the comments!