Marvel has cast another actor to play Hulk in Joss Whedon’s Avengers film (see “Avengers Casting”), taking a shot at Ed Norton, who played Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk in 2008, in the process. Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige told Hitfix “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.” The new actor will reportedly be revealed next week at Comic-Con.
Norton’s agent at WME, Brian Swardstrom, gave Hitfix a statement in response, saying, “This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light.... Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous, and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton’s talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do marvel’s fans.” Swardstrom’s statement also revealed that Whedon had met with Norton, and that “civil, uncontentious” negotiations over the terms under which Norton would play the character had been ongoing until last week, when Marvel broke off discussions to go with another actor.
Norton also responded, with a statement on Facebook, which was more fan-focused. “It seems it won’t work out for me to continue playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in The Avengers.... 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 gibing me the chance to be part of the Hulk’s long and excellent history.”