There's been lots of rumblings whether or not the Hulk would be included in "The Avengers," the upcoming hero ensemble film from Marvel. "The Incredible Hulk" made $267 million worldwide, an average take from the box office for a film with a $150 million budget, but not anything to really smile ("Iron Man" was more of a financial success than Hulk was).
But news comes today that Bruce Banner will be in "The Avengers" (no mention of Hulk, just Banner - hmmm...), but that Edward Norton will no reprise the role of the gamma-infected scientist.
Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige forwarded the following exclusively to HitFix:
“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.”
It's interesting to note that Feige seems to imply that Norton wouldn’t work as part of the ensemble. Rumors from production on "The Incredible Hulk" was that he liked to have a fair bit of control over the film – something that just wouldn’t work in "The Avengers."
It's not just me that thought this sounded a little mean-spirited. Norton's agent wasn't a fan of what Kevin wrote and sent this to Hitfix:
"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 far we've seen two Hulk movies starring two different actors, one with Eric Bana and then a reboot with Edward Norton. Now a third actor will most likely be playing the emerald ogre when he appears in "The Avengers."
According to Hitfix, Marvel sources say they will cast "an unknown" in the film, to be directed by Joss Whedon.
It wouldn't be the first time a recasting has occurred in the Marvel film universe. Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle for "Iron Man 2."
But still - fans may be more upset about the main character changing in continuity than a sidekick. The thing is, Banner is but one element of the Avengers and may be seen only briefly in that guise; his Hulk alter-ego is a computerized creation that doesn't require Norton in any way.
Maybe we'll find out more from the San Diego Comic-Con (which will be from July 22-25).
"The Avengers," in which Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury will bring together several heroes including Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Captain America, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and others, is slated for release on May 4, 2012.
More news to come! Catch ya' later!
Sources: Latino Review, Rope of Silicon, Live for Films, MTV News, First Showing, The Geek Files