Marvel Studios confirmed to Hitfix that Edward Norton will not be brought back to play Hulk alter-ego Bruce Banner in the team-up film "The Avengers," with president of production Kevin Feige saying the decision was not based on monetary factors but "rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members."
It brought a swift response from the actor's agent, Brian Swardstrom of WME, and now we've heard from Norton himself.
Norton has responded via Facebook. His statement is included below:
"As most of you know, I don't like to talk much about the business of making movies because it means a lot to me to protect the audience's fullest enjoyment of the 'magic' that films can have. But I am so appreciative of the outpouring of support from fans of the Hulk and the Avengers that I feel it would be rude not to respond. So here goes: It seems it won't work out for me to continue playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in "The Avengers." I sincerely hoped it could happen and be great for everyone but it hasn't turned out as we all hoped. I know this is disappointing to many people and that makes me sad. But I am very sincerely grateful to Marvel for extending the offer and even more so for giving me the chance to be a part of the Hulk's long and excellent history. And I really can't thank the fans enough for how much enthusiasm you've sent me way about what Louis and I tried to do in our turn with the legend. It means a lot to me. I grew up with Banner and Hulk and have been a fan of every incarnation. I'm really proud, and very blessed, to have been one of them and will be thrilled to see him live on through other actors. Hulk is bigger than all of us, that's why we love him, right?
Edward Norton "
So that pretty much ends Norton's involvement and it wasn't long before rumors as to who would be replacing him began to fly as CHUD reports none other than Joaquin Phoenix has been approached for the role.
"Reliable sources tell me that Marvel has already put out an offer, and the actor they've spoken to is Joaquin Phoenix, believe it or not. Phoenix is taking time to mull over the offer and the bigger implications – Marvel may yet resurrect the Hulk franchise – but Marvel hopes to have him in place by Comic Con, which is when they want to announce their new Bruce Banner.
As of right now treat this as a rumor, as I was unable to get solid confirmations or denials (it's the weekend!). Phoenix might very well turn the studio down – I'm hearing that whoever plays Banner will be the lowest man on The Avengers pay totem pole… "
As Devin Faraci at CHUD points out, "if Feige is moving past Ed Norton because he's tough to work with, will he have better luck with Phoenix?" It's a worthwhile question and if he's going to be paid peanuts to play the role does it make any sense at all?
We'll have to wait to hear some news from the upcoming San Diego Comic Con, as fans sure won't let an opportunity like that pass by without asking some serious questions.
More news to come! Catch ya' later!
Sources: The Geek Files, Rope of Silicon, First Showing, MTV News