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How Terrence Howard Really Feels About Don Cheadle Playing War Machine

Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just getting started, there was a quietly executed cast change that raised some eyebrows and has gotten plenty of press since. It happened between "Iron Man" and its sequel, "Iron Man 2," when Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard as James "Rhodey" Rhodes, otherwise known as War Machine. Cheadle has held the role ever since, with his most recent appearance as Rhodey being in the first episode of "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." 

Howard has been vocal about his disappointment in having to relinquish the role, which was in part the result of a salary dispute with Marvel Studios. According to multiple sources, Howard was the highest-paid actor in the first "Iron Man" movie (via CBR). But when the second movie came around, Marvel reportedly wanted to significantly cut Howard's pay in order to give more money to lead actor Robert Downey Jr. 

Howard explained during an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in November 2013, "It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second [movie], took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out." He further detailed that Marvel gave him a three-picture deal prior to the first "Iron Man" film, but executives approached him ahead of "Iron Man 2" and said that they would pay him just one-eighth of what they contractually offered him because they thought "the second one will be successful with or without" him involved. Howard then claimed that Downey Jr. ignored his calls for three months.

There was clearly some bad blood between Howard and Downey Jr. for a while, but in 2017, AP News reported that the pair had let their negative feelings go, as they both realized "life is too short" to hold onto grudges. But what about Howard's feelings toward Cheadle, the actor who replaced him?

Both actors know there was nothing personal about the switch

Back in 2012, Don Cheadle clarified that there was no animosity between him and Terrence Howard. "In fact, I saw Terrence two days after that all went down," the actor said during an appearance on SiriusXM's Sway in the Morning radio show. "Because of his situation and his deal with Marvel, he wasn't coming back regardless, so it wasn't as if I took a job from him and he understands that. It was an open job and they came to me next." In another video, played back for Howard in a 2013 interview, Cheadle said the two were friends for years.

Afterward, Howard opened up in his own Sway in the Morning appearance how he really felt about Cheadle taking the role. "[The studio] made a great deal — Don and Robert, they get along well," he said. "It had nothing to do with Don. It had to do with them needing to take the $7 million from me and give it to somebody else." Howard added that Marvel actually wanted Cheadle to play War Machine initially, and thus returned to the actor when Howard left the franchise.

"With regard to Don, Don has always been my man," Howard continued. He also claimed that the freeing up of his contract allowed him to get a degree in chemical engineering and start working with a company called SCIO to make synthetic diamonds. It should be pointed out, however, that multiple sources have fact-checked his claim about getting a degree at South Carolina University and found it to be false. 

In any case, Howard's career hasn't suffered because of all this. His work since "Iron Man" has included roles in "The Princess and the Frog," several "Law & Order" shows, a regular spot on "Empire" from 2015 to 2020, and plenty of others. And apparently, he didn't pay much attention to the Marvel universe after he was no longer in it. Howard told GQ in 2013 that he hadn't seen 2012's "The Avengers." We're guessing that's still the case.