Terrence Howard appeared on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and was asked why he didn’t reprise the role of James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in Iron Man 2 (and by extension Iron Man 3). His response left little doubt as to who gets credit for his removal from the incredibly popular franchise.
“It turns out, in order for — this is going to get me in a lot of trouble, but — it turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one, took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out.
We did a three-picture deal, so that meant we did the deal ahead of time. There was going to be a certain amount for the first one, a certain amount for the second, 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 have for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.”
Howard went on to say that he called his fellow actor to talk about the situation and Downey didn’t call him back for three months. When asked how he feels about Downey now, Howard cryptically said, “Oh, I love him. God’s gonna bless him.”
Seems like the producers were correct in their assertion that the second film (and third) would be a success without Howard. Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle, another Academy Award winning actor, so it was never a question of writing the character out of the series.
How much of the decision on the part of the studio was related to RDJ’s higher salary demands and how much was a targeted effort to remove Howard for other reasons remains unclear. That Howard blames Downey for not getting to don the War Machine Armor is now pretty obvious.