Update: Marvel Studios has confirmed that Edward Norton won’t be reprising his role as The Hulk in “The Avengers”. This from Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige himself:
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.
So there you have it. For the third time in three movies, Bruce Banner aka The Hulk will be played by a completely different actor.
Update 2: Edward Norton’s agent Brian Swardstrom has responded to Marvel’s decision to re-cast The Hulk in Joss Whedon’s upcoming “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.
Who to believe? Does it matter? The end result is the same: Edward Norton is no longer Bruce Banner. Although it would have been pretty damn awesome to see all the actors on the same stage with Joss Whedon at Comic Con…
Update 3: Edward Norton has posted his official statement about being kicked to the curb by Marvel on his Facebook account. Norton seems to be playing the good cop to his agent’s bad cop (above):
Update 4: Is Mark Ruffalo Edward Norton’s replacement?
That’s the word from Hitfix, who cites “Marvel sources” as saying that the company have decided to part ways with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, and will instead be hiring an unknown to play the role for Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers”. Of course, like a lot of Marvel films nowadays, it’s all just conjecture and unnamed sources until the studio comes out and says it, and let’s face, there has been plenty — and I do mean plenty — of rushed “exclusive scoops” when it comes to Marvel movie casting, and this could very well be one of them.
Again, until Marvel makes it official via one of the trades, it’s just another Internet rumor, and should be treated as such.
What we do know is this: Robert Downey Jr. will definitely be playing Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth will definitely be playing Thor, Chris Evans is definitely Captain America, Samuel L. Jackson is definitely Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson is the Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner is most definitely Hawkeye.
The Hulk? Well, that’s up in the air. And in case you’re keeping count, if this turns out to be true, the Hulk will have gone through three actors since it resurfaced as a movie franchise in 2003. That is one confused superhero.