It has always bothered me when a new actor is brought in to replace another actor who has already been established as a franchise character. I don’t think I’m alone in this viewpoint. The first time I noticed this occurrence was when I was a child and Sarah Chalke replaced Alicia Goranson as Becky (otherwise known as the “Two Beckys”). Sometimes the situation is forced upon a movie studio, like with Richard Harris’ untimely passing, which forced Warner Bros to recast Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series of films. But other times it just comes down to a disagreement over money. And so appears to be the case with Iron Man 2.
Marvel Studios has hired Don Cheadle to replace Terrence Howard in the upcoming Iron Man sequel. Cheadle will play Jim Rhodes, Tony Stark’s best friend and future War Machine. Director Jon Favreau has made numerous hints that War Machine may play a part in the second film. The Hollywood Reporter’s sources claim it was a conflict due to financial differences. Earlier this year, it was widely speculated that Marvel was trying to low ball Favreau with an offer not much higher than his initial payday for the first film. It is not unusual for salaries to double for a sequel, especially when the first film outperformed to the level that Iron Man had. But from what I’ve heard, Marvel believes the superhero characters themselves are the real stars, and some have said that the company is being thrifty in their negotiations for their future projects.
Most people will agree, Howard and Downey Jr had incredible chemistry. Who knows if Cheadle will be able to reproduce the same magic in the sequel. That said, it is difficult to be angry with a a-level actor like Cheadle coming in for the assist.