For well over a year, Terrence Howard has been excitedly talking up his role as Jim Rhodes in the "Iron Man" franchise, promising reporters that Tony Stark's most indispensable sidekick would eventually don an armor suit himself as the heroic War Machine. Jim still might. Howard, on the other hand, reportedly won't be along for the ride.
The Oscar-nominated star of "Crash" and "Hustle and Flow" has been booted from "Iron Man 2," and will be replaced by Don Cheadle, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His departure reportedly comes after negotiations between the thesp and Marvel Studios broke down over financial considerations, "among other differences."
The actor's reported disappearance from the franchise is both curious and startling, given how positively giddy he has sounded about continuing to work on the comic book adaptation, which set up an expanded role for the character in the series' first installment.
"I'm anxious to get into the next one. I don't want to be a sidekick. I don't want to be a wingman. I want to have my own thing," Howard beamed in a May interview with MTV News. "I want to be War Machine."
As recently as August, Howard confirmed his participation in "Iron Man 2," saying he was preparing for the role by working out "like a demon."
"That's sometimes what we need, that other motivation to make us get buff," he said at the time. "So me and Robert [Downey Jr.], we made plans to really get some incredible trainers, train together and get massive. Get massive enough [so we don't] need to suit."
Little is known about the plot for "Iron Man 2" beyond oblique hints from director Jon Favreau that the sequel would feature appearances by longtime villain Mandarin and, possibly, other Avengers.
Scripted by "Tropic Thunder" scribe Justin Theroux, "Iron Man 2" is set for release May 7, 2010.
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