Is Marvel's best frenemy Terrence Howard going to play Luke Cage?

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

Could actor Terrence Howard be back on good terms with Marvel Studios—and even working with the company again—after being replaced as Rhodey by Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2? According to E! Online, Howard says he is "talking" with the comics behemoth about "doing some other things," adding, "Don Cheadle wanted to play [Rhodey] before I wanted to play it, so everything is very well."

Even though Howard is now saying that "despite the customary idea or thought that there's some controversy, it was a wonderful split," that's not quite as calm as Howard sounded last year, when he slammed Marvel's decision by saying, "They made a very, very bad choice. They didn't keep their word. They didn't honor our contract. They sent everyone out into a field and told them to work and produce a great bounty. You produce a great bounty, and then when it's all in the storehouse, you are not allowed into the storehouse."

Now Howard says there are no hard feelings anymore over his dismissal from the Iron Man franchise after playing Rhodey in the first film. The actor reportedly wanted a big raise for his second appearance, but Marvel wasn't interested in digging deeper into its wallet and quickly tapped Cheadle to fill the role.

Fans have been split on which man did a better job, but either way, Cheadle is going to be Rhodey for a while, so now we can speculate on what exactly Howard is "talking" with Marvel about. The first thing that comes to mind is the recent news that a "notable Hollywood star" is in talks with the studio about a Luke Cage movie.

After all, according to the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex blog, Cage, a.k.a. Power Man, is among the first of a batch of lesser-known Marvel heroes that the company is interested in basing smaller movies around. Cage, who first appeared in the books in 1972, was created specifically to jump on the blaxploitation craze of that time. He was also the first African-American superhero to land his own comic book. So although somehow we see Dwayne Johnson fitting the role better than Howard, these two stories seem made for each other.

But let's say Howard is not looking at playing the steel-skinned Cage; what else is there for him to do?

Well, there's the Falcon, for one, the winged hero who actually debuted before Cage (in Captain America #117, 1969) and went on to eventually become a member of the Avengers. There's also Deathlok, the reluctant cyborg killing machine who eventually evolves into a good guy and first showed up in Astonishing Tales in 1974. Several characters have used that name, but the best-known one, Michael Collins, worked with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. at one point in his early '90s run. Either one of these characters could conceivably fit into the Avengers movie, although Falcon might make more sense.

Another possibility is Gabe Jones, a World War II-era soldier who was part of Fury's Howling Commandos. With the Commandos confirmed to have some sort of role in Captain America: The First Avenger, is it possible that Jones' part could be beefed up to fight alongside Fury and Cap?

And then there's Black Panther. T'Challa, ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda, has been a player in the Marvel Universe since 1966 and was also a member of the Avengers for a while. Actor Wesley Snipes and director John Singleton have both been attached to a Black Panther movie at various times, and the character is said to be on Marvel's list of lesser-known heroes that it wants to make smaller movies around.

So those are some possibilities. Keep in mind that Howard could also be looking at playing a villain or even a character that's not necessarily African-American (after all, neither was Nick Fury originally).

If Howard returns to the Marvel Universe, who do you want to see him play?

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