Edward Norton won’t play The Hulk in THE AVENGERS

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
July 11th, 2010

The fact that Edward Norton won't be back as The Hulk in THE AVENGERS would see a lot more fan outrage if we weren't already living in an age where studios now replace actors and reboot franchises ALL the time. Did Don Cheadle as Rhodes hurt IRON MAN 2? Nope. Did Eric Bana getting replaced by Edward Norton hurt THE INCREDIBLE HULK? Not a bit. We're used to this and, although it would've been exciting for fans at this year's Comic Con to see Norton walk out on stage with all the other Avengers, it's hardly a deal-breaker for fans. And Marvel knows it.

Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President of Production, told Hitfix exclusively that they were going in a different direction:

"We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."

While this statement, coupled with Norton's past conflicts with Marvel during THE INCREDIBLE HULK, seem to paint the actor in a bad light, it's not exactly inflammatory. It does hint that after Norton's insistence on re-writing the script for THE INCREDIBLE HULK and his refusal to do any press for the film, Marvel was less than enthusiastic about having Norton back as Bruce Banner, however.

Edward Norton's representative, Brian Swardstrom from William Morris Endeavour, recently fired back in response to Feige's comments to try and set the record straight. He told Hitfix the following:

"This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light.  Here are the facts:  two months ago, Kevin called me and said he wanted Edward to reprise the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers.  He told me it would be his fantasy to bring Edward on stage with the rest of the cast at ComiCon and make it the event of the convention.  When I said that Edward was definitely open to this idea, Kevin was very excited and we agreed that Edward should meet with Joss Whedon to discuss the project.  Edward and Joss had a very good meeting (confirmed by Feige to me) at which Edward said he was enthusiastic at the prospect of being a part of the ensemble cast.  Marvel subsequently made him a financial offer to be in the film and both sides started negotiating in good faith.  This past Wednesday, after several weeks of civil, uncontentious discussions, but before we had come to terms on a deal, a representative from Marvel called to say they had decided to go in another direction with the part.  This seemed to us to be a financial decision but, whatever the case, it is completely their prerogative, and we accepted their decision with no hard feelings.

We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige's mean spirited, accusatory comments.  Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss and the other actors in the Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his.  Feige's statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory.  Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel's fans."

So are there hard feelings now? Honestly, it just looks like Norton's interest in the project and his potential salary just couldn't be reconciled. That shouldn't be the fault of Norton and Marvel, the negotiations just didn't come together for both parties. Maybe Marvel should call in Pat Riley - who is being heralded as one of the great closers after bringing basketball superstar Lebron James to the Miami Heat - to sit it on negotiations from here on out.

Marvel and Kevin Feige are just acting as the buffer between the production and the negative fan reaction of Norton not being cast. It's politics.

What do you guys think? Will this hurt THE AVENGERS movie? Or make no little to no difference at all?

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  • Erick

    I'm dissapointed!

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