Before Favs had even signed on to direct Iron Man 2, Terrence Howard - who had appeared in the first film - announced in June 2008 that the sequel was going to be shooting in March 2009.
Reprising his role as Colonel James Rhodes, it seemed likely that the sequel would see him transform into the feted War Machine. In the comics, he wears his own power suit when Stark lapses into alcoholism.
Come October 2008, though, Howard was off the flick and Don Cheadle had been drafted in to replace him.
Considering Howard was already locked in to a three picture deal, this was an odd development. So just why did Howard leave?
The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Howard’s departure was all down to finances. After the money fuss about Favreau’s pay check, it looked like Marvel were pulling the same trick with Howard - unwilling to pay their stars more money, and viewing the characters themselves as the real stars. How convenient.
“It was the surprise of a lifetime,” said Howard of discovering he’d been dropped. “There was no explanation. Just... up and vanished. I read something in the trades implicating that it was about money or something.
“But apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on, sometimes. Promises aren’t kept, and good faith negotiations aren’t always held up. Even friendships, people you support...”
In the blink of an eye, a new petition website was launched by fans who wanted Howard re-instated.
HowardNOTCHeadle.com acted as a forum for angry fans to vent their rage at Paramount and Marvel. Which, of course, did nothing but unite a lot of pissed off people in the same place. Cheadle remained.
Howard must’ve been especially annoyed when, the very same month that news broke of his dumping, concept art for War Machine was revealed. And it looked wicked cool.
Sketched by Phil Saunders, the images showed various alternate suit designs. Though Saunders was quick to warn fans that they were strictly preliminary, and “if there is a War Machine in [Iron Man 2], it’s unlikely to be this one”.
By the end of the month, reports suggested that Howard had been dumped not because of monetary disagreements, but because he was difficult to work with.
“Favreau and his producers were ultimately unhappy with Howard’s performance [in the first], and spent a lot of time cutting and reshooting his scenes,” claimed EW sources.
In light of this, Marvel reportedly offered Howard a “drastically reduced offer” in expectation that he would bail on the project.
But let's forget about all. Was Favreau excited about the prospect of War Machine being in Iron Man 2?
“The thing that’s fun about War Machine is it's over the top,” says the director. “It’s like you know when Travis Bickle buys the guns in Taxi Driver... you know some shit’s gonna go down at the end of that movie.
“And so, Iron Man is the sleek elegant version where everything is contained under the airframe and War Machine is, you know, the over-the-top, everything hangin’ out and… you know, some people like chocolate, some people like vanilla, you know.”
Next: Black Widow