It still isn’t clear why it happened—money, many say—but Marvel’s decision to replace Terrence Howard
with Don Cheadle
in Iron Man 2
has sparked a minor revolt among fans of the new series.
Howard’s role in the original Iron Man was limited, though in the
film’s sequel-baiting final scenes, the character he played—Colonel
James “Rhodey” Rhodes, AKA War Machine (pictured)—is foreshadowed to become Iron
Man’s sidekick. Replacements in major
franchises are not uncommon, as fans of Batman saw this summer when
Maggie Gyllenhaal filled in for Katie Holmes in The Dark
But some fanboy sects, who cherish nothing if not brand loyalty, have
launched a campaign to protest the casting change, widely believed to
have more to do with business than with creative issues. The site HowardNotCheadle.com is one manifestation, which laments that Marvel
“thinks just any person can play” the character. “They are sadly
mistaken,” the site reads, before a link to a petition to Marvel in protest of the move.
Cheadle, to be sure, is not just anyone—he’s at least as
accomplished an actor as Howard, with prized roles in films like Hotel
Rwanda and Crash in his recent past. But Howard has publicly echoed and
perhaps bolstered the fans’ message, saying the news had come to him from a
third party without warning. “It was the surprise of a lifetime,” he told NPR. “There
was no explanation, [the contract] just up and vanished.”
Contracts in Hollywood, he said, “aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on sometimes.”
A reversal from Marvel, of course, is unlikely, especially since the web grumbling is muted as far as gross-roots campaigns from fans go.
Besides, with Robert Downey Jr. set to return for at least two Iron Man sequels
and a swift effort to put the next movie in theaters by May 2010
underway, the complaints will no doubt be short-lived.
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