Edward Norton will not be playing the role of the Hulk and his alter-ego Bruce Banner in the upcoming Avengers film. Marvel said that Norton lacks the “creativity and collaborative spirit” needed for the role.
In 2008’s Incredible Hulk, Norton played Bruce Banner and his Hulk alter-ego. He was involved in an infamous spat with Marvel Studios and director Louis Leterrier over the final cut and direction of the film. In light of their artistic differences, it is not surprising that Marvel has chosen to go in this direction.
This statement from Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige says it all:
“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 fulfils these requirements and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.”
In response to Feige’s statement, Norton’s agent Brian Swardstrom released a statement of his own, claiming that Feige initially wanted Norton to be part of the Avengers:
“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.”
It’s been confirmed that Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth are on board for the Avengers. Now Marvel just has to cast the net for someone to play the Hulk who will embody the characteristics Feige wants.