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.

via HitFix


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I thought he would have definately have been an IN when Hulk was one of the first of “In Continuity” movies that Marvel is making. Norton had some difference of oppinion on the making of the film and after getting his scenes done the way he wanted, people seemed to have liked what Norton did. So we had the public backing him in a movie that was supposed to be “franchised”. This is a stupid move on Marvels part. Was it really that big of a deal? Let the man be Hulk …

    I honestly puts me off for future Hulk appearances because I hate constant recasting. Or does this mean that they’re going to reboot the reboot?

  2. Doctor Sleepless on

    Big mistake, Norton should have been a definite IN. And Stephen I think people are making a fuss over this (deservedly so) because the new Hulk was clearly in continuity with the Ironman movies (Starktech audio weapons, and after credits Ross/Stark scene) besides the Hulk movie was actually good and Norton was a great Banner.

    • Nowhere has Marvel said the Hulk wouldn’t be in the movie. Remember The Hulk is a CGI creation, while Banner is just a guy. Take a read of Ultimate Avengers, and you might get an idea of what direction I think Marvel will take on this film. Very little Banner screen time, a lot of Hulk smash time…

      And remember, Don Cheadle stepped in to play War Machine and nobody blinked or complained about that re-casting when the movie was released.

      • No one complained because Don Cheadle better fit the part and is overall a better actor than Terrence Howard. The only Terrence Howard has done really well was his role in Crash. Don Cheadle did well in his role in Crash AND every other movie he’s ever done.

      • On that same note Ed Norton is a phenomenal actor and it will be hard to find someone to fill his shoes. He definitely outshined Eric Bana.

        • I complained about Don Cheadle taking over. I love Don Cheadle as an actor, he’s one of my favorites for a specific type of role, like in Traitor, he plays the cool-under-pressure guy that has a lot of deep introverted acting going on. I don’t like re-casting unless absolutely necessary, case-in-point The Hulk (2003 being redone that is). I just wanted more personality from Cheadle as Rhodey, at least to hear some more outburst of exhaltation when he’s in his armor suit and blasting bad guys. That’s just me I guess, I just thought his personality was missing quite a bit, that and he’s supposed to be friends with Tony and yet steals (with no government backing) the War Machine armor and exposed Stark’s corporate secrets to a competitor.

  3. Doctor Sleepless on

    I know, I know that’s what I’m saying…They should have Banner if they do Hulk. And if they do the right thing which is keeping the new Hulk in the Marvel-movie continuity, the lack of Norton looks kinda strange. Even if the main thing is about Skrulls and Hulk is the uniting factor or just their 1st skirmish they will do a Banner. And there’s a difference with replacing an actor who had his own movie and a background character who didn’t come into his own until the sequel.

  4. This is pretty disappointing, since Norton’s portrayal of Banner was one of the first that I’ve liked since … well, Bill Bixby in the television show.

    Bad move, Marvel.

  5. Maybe this meeting with Whedon didn’t go as good as they are makin it out to be. I’m sure there will be more to this story revealed at a later date.

  6. Ugh! Norton’s Hulk is easily my favorite Marvel movie casting ever. I hope Banner doesn’t show up at all in the Avengers and it is just CGI Hulk. Otherwise, the movie is going to lose half a star from my critique as a cringe whenever a fake Banner shows up.

    • Now that would be interesting. Eric Bana wasn’t that bad…the story and the Hulk were. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bana return as the “new” Hulk.

  7. If the director and cast members do their jobs, you won’t even notice who is or who isn’t playing Bruce Banner….

  8. I think Marvel is coming off poorly on this one due the mild diss they’re giving Norton. I thought his “Hulk” movie was good but based on what was aired, it sounded like the version Norton wanted might have even been better (though less “Summer action fest”).

    At the same, I don’t really see what the big deal is about having a new actor cast just because that movie was in continuity. The whole movie process involved suspension of disbelief. The same way that seeing Chris Evans as Cap requires NOT seeing him as Human Torch, I think seeing new actor as Bruce Banner just means NOT seeing Ed Norton as Banner. I don’t think it’s really going to be very distracting unless you decide to watch that “Hulk” right before going to see “Avengers”…

    • But think about this, would you have been thrown off at all if you went to see Empire Strikes Back and instead of Harrison Ford, Christopher Walken was playing the role of Han Solo? I get that we’re supposed to suspend disbelief and see the character instead of the actor, but some roles are bigger and more noticeable than others. Almost nobody noticed or cared when the mother on Fresh Prince was replaced, Jaimee Foxworth as a young actress went upstairs on Family Matters and never came back down, the guy from Bewitched was replaced (a bit larger and kinda surprising that wasn’t really noticed), but if they’d have replaced Will Smith or Uncle Phil, Carlton or pretty much anyone else people’d have taken notice and probably gotten mad. Ed Norton isn’t as easily replaced as other people might be. I’ll be fine with whatever they do as long as they do it seriously and try to make a great movie.

      On a slightly different note, I’m cool with suspending disbelief, but I hate when the internal consistency of a movie is not upheld. My wife makes fun of me all the time for this, but I stand by it. Not a great example, but one that I’m bringing up is that in X-Men 3 Wolverine is the only one that can take down Pheonix (fine) but he goes up and “kills” her, why didn’t he just take a bunch of the serum to depower her and shoot her up with that. He’d already seen it work on Rogue and Magneto, plus many other nobody’s along the way. I know it wouldn’t have been a definite fix, since Magneto’s powers were coming back at the end of the movie and since Charles Xavier had transferred consciousness to that body with Moira McTaggert, he could have reestablished her mental blocks while she was deactivated/depowered.

  9. This whole “team-player” stuff is nonesense. All you have to do is watch the man to know he is one of Hollywood’s few consummate professionals who rises above all that stuff and takes his craft as serious artistic work. This comes from my personal experience watching his movies, and reports from my brother, who is an actor in L.A. and has watched him work on set. (The man is no Christian Bale.) So I totally back his agent, these statements from Marvel are offensive and totally inaccurate.

  10. What would really make me very happy would be if at some point they release a special edition of The Incredible Hulk that has Edward Norton’s full vision (hoping that they had a bunch more footage that wasn’t in the movie).

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