If reports coming out of the HitFix camp are accurate, then yes it’s true: Marvel Studios has decided not to use Edward Norton as the Hulk in their blockbuster to end all other blockbusters, The Avengers. It also sounds like it’s in Marvel’s strategy guide to replace the veteran actor will a complete unknown for the part.
For as long as the movie has been on the way, the wild card has been Norton. The actor played Bruce Banner, the man with a colossal green inner-self, in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and it was widely thought that he and the movie were a redeeming effort for Ang Lee’s 2003 strikeout, Hulk.
At first we didn’t even know if Hulk would be included in the lineup for The Avengers, but this past January Marvel chief Kevin Feige confirmed that the big fella would indeed be a part of the fun. After that, most seemed to feel that the best answer was to find a way to get Norton — one of the few actors that they did not have locked up for multiple pictures — back once again. Even more, it sounded a lot like Norton himself was up for the job, though for the time being that all remained idle chatter.
That brings us to here and now, and it sounds like Norton is out and a new guy will be brought in. If so, this could likely be for two reasons: 1.) Marvel can’t afford or doesn’t want to pay for the services of an actor as well-traveled as Norton. 2.) They have plans to only use the Hulk in his CG/motion-capture form (hence the unknown actor), and not Bruce Banner the man. That seems rather unlikely and would mean very little screen time for the Hulk, but a thought to ponder nonetheless.
Keep in mind that The Avengers is still about two years from release and a good chunk of months from production, meaning a lot can still happen here. As pointed out by Mr. McWeeny at HitFix, the San Diego Comic Con is only a two short weeks away and we shouldn’t be surprised to learn a lot more then.
For now, all we can do is take this news as we will and use the internet the best way we know how: to scream our opinions to the world. If you think this is bad news bears, shout it out — I’m sure Marvel is paying incredibly close attention to the pulse of the audience they’re counting on to make The Avengers the biggest and best comic book movie of all time.