The He Said/He Said fight continues as representatives from Marvel and Ed Norton’s agent bicker back and forth as to the reason why Norton won’t be reprising his role as Bruce Banner in the Avengers movie.
The first in the match came from Marvel:
“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.”
Which was followed by a retort from Norton’s rep:
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
I wonder if anyone ever expected Norton to return as Banner? After the scrap and arguments that occurred when the Hulk movie was released, I had no expectations that Norton would reprise his role. It seemed then, as it does now, that both have washed their hands of the project. Even more surprising is the number of people who are making a big deal out of this. Unlike Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr., Norton was never signed nor confirmed for the Avengers when the movie was announced, so to say Norton is out, when he was never official in, seems a bit like running a plethora of stories talking about eight actors vying for the Spider-Man role…
I’m sure this back and forth will continue for the next couple of weeks as the build up to Comic-Con International: San Diego continues.
At least now you have your definitive no. On the plus side, we may find out who will play the Hulk in a few weeks.