Terrence Howard is an Oscar-nominated actor. He gave a fine performance as Col. James Rhodes, Tony Stark's friend and miltiary liason to Stark Industries. He apparently will not be repeating the role http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/terrencehoward_blog.html http://www.cinematical.com/2008/10/20/terrence-howard-doesnt-know-why-iron-man-dumped-him/
This is not the first time a character has been played by another actor in a subsequent film in the series. James Bond, Batman, Harvey Dent, Rachel Dawes, Lt. Saavik, Kitty Pryde, Dumbledor, have all fallen into this category.
But I wonder how I feel about this. first off, Col. Rhodes was a re-interpretation of a character from the comics. The original "Rhodey" was not an officer, and was a much more "ethnic character" than the movie version. Terrence Howard has made a career out of playing some of the most well-spoken, mainstream, polite, "white" black people in the movies, and this was no exception. He would do a damn fine job of it, making me believe every word he said, every scene he was in.
Don Cheadle certainly has darker skin color, and potential for more "ethnic character" and even comedy. But was this the right choice for the movie.
Every movie adaptation makes changes from the original story for various reasons, including updating the material to fit current events and society, as was the case here. Placing Tony Stark in Afghanistan rather than Vietnam effectively updated the story and gave it relevance. The character of Rhodes was upgraded to one of greater authority and achievement, whereas the original was practically a sidekick to Tony Stark/Iron Man. Can Cheadle bring the same sense of nobility and authority to the role, or will they rewrite the role to play to his comedic strength? And will audiences buy the change, or will it distract form the picture?
Whatever the answers, I am disappointed that an actor of Howard's character will not get to return, and become War Machine. And I was very curious as to how Lando Calrissian would have done as Two-Face.