Don Cheadle Refutes Claims about How He Replaced Terrence Howard at Marvel

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Updated:
Don Cheadle MCU Terrence Howard

One of the infamous MCU recasting stories centers around Terrence Howard's departure from his Marvel role that led to Don Cheadle's takeover. And now, the current War Machine star set the record straight on how he replaced Howard.

Cheadle made his MCU debut as James Rhodes in 2010's Iron Man 2 with the memorable "Look, it's me, I'm here, deal with it, let's move on" line. Back then, some would argue that it wasn't a big deal, but as years passed, more details have come to light about Cheadle's casting.

The MCU actor previously shared that he received the call to play War Machine during his child's laser tag birthday party, noting that it was a six-picture deal at that time. 

After appearing in many notable Marvel films, such as the last two Avengers movies, Cheadle confirmed at last year's D23 that he’s finished with his contractual obligations with Marvel Studios, though he is still open to appearing in more MCU projects. 

Don Cheadle Reacts to Replacing Terrence Howard 

War Machine, Don Cheadle

As per a new video from GQ (that was recently deleted), War Machine actor Don Cheadle refuted the claim that he replaced Terrence Howard without warning in Iron Man 2

When GQ asked if he 'Aunt Viv'd' Howard (replaced him without warning him first) out of his role, Cheadle pointed out that he didn't, noting that James Rhodes' role was "an open part" at the time: 

GQ: "It’s famously known online how you 'Aunt Viv’d' Terrence Howard for the role of Rhodey…"

Cheadle: “I Aunt Viv’d him? I did not move Terrence [Howard] out of a role. He was not… They had decided that they weren’t. That was not happening and it was an open part."

The Armor Wars actor then recalled the story of the time Marvel called him for the part: 

"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.’ Like what’s the trajectory of the character going to be… Well they’re like, ’We can’t… We don’t know any of that, but this is what it is so you’ve got an hour. I said, ‘I’m at my kid’s laser tag birthday party.’ They’re like, ‘Oh, take two hours.’ 

Cheadle continued by noting that he involved his wife and agent with the decision to say yes to the Marvel role: 

"So we played laser tag for two hours, and I was talking to my wife and we just kind of thought about it and talked to my agent and tried to get as much information as we could, and we just took a flyer and said, ’Okay, we’ll do it.'”

Why Don Cheadle Is Perfect as War Machine

Although Terrence Howard was first to nab the James Rhodes role in 2008's Iron Man film, Don Cheadle had the privilege to become the MCU's definitive War Machine.

Cheadle refuting claims that he replaced Howard without warning makes sense, considering that Marvel Studios was the one who approached him and not the other way around. Hopefully, the actor's latest remark will finally place discussions about the MCU recast to rest.

The MCU actor's portrayal of the War Machine character has been beloved by Marvel fans. The actor's chemistry with Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is unmatched, and his comedic timing ('Boom, you're looking for this!') has been spectacular. 

James Rhodes will become an integral part of the MCU's Phase 5 as he is set to be featured in his first solo movie, Armor Wars, and in the upcoming Disney+ show, Secret Invasion

- In This Article: Armor Wars
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- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.