Edward Norton No Longer Playing Dr. Bruce Banner, Hulk

Having an opportunity to sit down with Edward Norton as part of the Leaves of Grass junket during South by Southwest, I refrained from asking him any questions about playing the Hulk and if he was to be involved with the upcoming Avengers project. No, I wasn’t afraid that he would suddenly turn green and throw me across the room; the line of questioning seemed too played out. I instead focused on Leaves of Grass and the rumored Rounders sequel that was in the gestation phase at that time. (Brian Koppelman and David Levien [Solitary Man] are currently envisioning it as a down-the-road story, picking up a decade or so after the first film.)

Over at HitFix, they are reporting that Edward Norton will no longer be playing Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk). An official statement released by Marvel Entertainment confirms the parting and that a new actor will be cast in the role of Bruce Banner for The Avengers. While the statement goes on to read that the decision was not based on “monetary factors” it was instead “rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.”

Marvel president Kevin Feige writes, “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.”

The fanfare for both Hulk movies has been mixed, but Norton’s interpretation is better received. And as far as being passionate about the role, Norton also did uncredited rewrites to the script, trying to make it the best story possible. Norton’s beef at the decision to have scenes removed to shorten the running time have been documented, but unless a bombshell is dropped at Comic-Con and Sharlto Copley is announced as the “new” Bruce Banner (third times a charm?) I’ll leave it up to speculation. Did Edward Norton have a Terrence Howard moment, or is there still heat stemming from The Incredible Hulk?

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