Terence Howard is out and Don Cheadle is in.
Cheadle will be replacing Howard in the role of Jim Rhodes, friend of billionaire industrialist and superhero Tony Stark/Iron Man, in Iron Man 2, the upcoming sequel to this past summer’s hit film. Although no official statements have been made about the switch, a source told The Hollywood Reporter that Howard and Marvel Studios could not come to agreement over the actor’s fee for the upcoming film. Earlier, Iron Man director Jon Favreau reportedly went through some tough negotiations with the studio who didn’t want to pony up for his participation in the upcoming sequel.
In the long-running Iron Man comic book series, Jim Rhodes eventually becomes a harder-edged armored hero named War Machine, wearing a heavier armored and weaponed version of Tony Stark’s armor. In the film Iron Man, there is a scene where Rhodes looks longingly at the Iron Man armor and promises himself “Next time.” It was a moment that many fans took to be a hint that War Machine would show up in a sequel.
This is not the first time that a character in a franchise film has been recast due to real world concerns. I think that is something everyone comes to accept as inevitable. Richard Harris’ passing obviously called for someone new to step into the roll of Dumbledore for the Harry Potter movies. As much as I like Sean Connery in the role of James Bond, I don’t think I want to still be seeing him essaying the part some four decades after he originated it in Dr. No.
However, this second report that Marvel Studios looks to be low-balling the costs of the talent for their films is troubling. While the characters they are bringing to the big screen are indeed favorites that will attract folks to theaters, it is the talent that is in front and behind the camera that brings the characters to life and keeps people coming back.
If Marvel really thinks they can make their movies on the cheap, may I ask them go to their vaults and pull out that copy of the unreleased Fantastic Four movie produced by Roger Corman. Take a look at that and then give your position a bit of a rethink.