Back in 2008, when MCU wasn't the sensation that it is today, Terrence Howard was among the first lot of actors to be roped in for the live-action adaptation of Marvel's Iron Man. The superhero action was a runaway success, which not only kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also set the tone and template for many upcoming MCU projects.
Iron Man established Robert Downey Jr. as the star that fans around the globe know today. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Terrence Howard, the highest-paid actor in Iron Man, who did not reprise his role as Tony Stark's pal James Rhodes in the sequel, leading makers to replace him with Don Cheadle.
The reason for Howard's ouster was the alleged pay cut.
Terrence Howard left Iron Man 2 due to a conflict over salary
Terrence's removal was shocking for many, especially with his ill-fated dialog, "Next time, baby," incorrectly foreshadowing his War Machine suit-up.
His exclusion from Iron Man 2 was related to a dispute with makers over salary. Allegedly, after the success of Iron Man, Howard was asked to work at lower pay than the already agreed-upon contractual amount.
Besides the salary dispute, some sources speculated that the reason behind Terrence's replacement as War Machine was related to the work. Insider reports rumored that Howard was a difficult actor to work with and had problems with Jon Favreau, the movie's director.
However, none of the parties ever confirmed such rumors, and the pay cut angle remained a talking point throughout.
Sources suggest the dispute arose when makers reached out to Howard to discuss a cut in salary, since Favreau and screenwriter Justin Theroux were thinking about minimizing the actor's role.
The pay cut was allegedly between 50% to 80% and resulted in Terrence Howard's separation from the project. Interestingly, the controversy also became the reason behind a feud between Howard and Rober Downey Jr., as the former accused the latter of not standing up for him.
During one of his appearances on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, when Terrence was asked about the whole fiasco, he said:
"It turns out that the person that 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."
When Andy Cohen further questioned him, asking whether the issue was related to him demanding the same pay as Downey, Terrence Howard elaborated:
"We did a three-picture deal. So that means you did the deal ahead of time. It was going to be a certain amount for the first one, a certain amount for the second, certain amount for the third. They came to me [for] the second and said, 'We will pay you one-eighth of what we contractually had for you because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.' And I called my friend that I helped get the first job, and he didn't call me back for three months."
On Cohen's question related to Terrence Howard's relationship with RDJ, the Prisoners actor replied sarcastically:
"Oh, I love him. God's gonna bless him."
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Terrence Howard even claimed that he had called Downey 17 times, but to no avail.
However, in 2008, Robert Downy Jr. denied his role in the removal of Howard from the film and refused to comment any further on the matter.
Downey's role as Tony Stark/Iron Man became the franchise's central character until his in-universe death at the end of Infinity Saga with Avengers: Endgame. On the other hand, Don Cheadle has been portraying War Machine's character since 2010 and is expected to reprise the role in upcoming projects like Secret Invasion and Armor Wars.