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Marvel Confirms New Hulk In ‘The Avengers’; Edward Norton’s Agent Responds
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The Movie God   |  @   |  
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A few days back news broke that Marvel Studios had possibly made a choice not to bring The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton back to play Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Instead, the studio decided that it would be in their better interest to go out and find an unknown actor to take on the part — a decision that most seemed to think was not the right one.

HitFix, who first broke news of Marvel’s plans, now finds themselves at the epicenter of this story’s progression as a confirmation of Norton’s omission and replacement has been given, and a response fired right back.

Marvel head Kevin Feige was the one to offer up the confirmation explaining that it was not a money thing as everyone had assumed, but a creativity and collaborative issue…clearly a knock on Norton’s reputation. The actor is known for being vocal on the set when he doesn’t agree with the direction and can sometimes be hard to work with. It could be said that this is unprofessional and not worth dealing with, but the actor’s tendencies could also simply account for his passion for a project. Feige also notes that they’re looking to bring in a name actor instead of the previously suspected “unknown,” which is at least one good thing about all of this.

Here’s the statement from Kevin Feige:

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.

Being as this is an obvious shot at the actors previous on-set dramas, Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom, fired right back and laid the whole story out for 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.

Brian Swardstrom
WME

And now both sides are loud and clear. All we have left to do is choose a side. So are are you Team Edward or are you Team Marvel? Yes, I went there.

The aforementioned San Diego Comic Con panel for The Avengers should be the can’t-miss attraction of the convention thus far. Just to see director Joss Whedon bring his cast — including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Samuel L. Jackson — out on stage will be something to see. Now we can only wonder if it would have been cooler with Edward Norton, or if they have a star in mind that will make us all forget.

If you can’t have Norton, who would you like to see play Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Avengers? Anyone for Eric Bana?

10 Comments »

  1. Marvel will apologize, probably tomorrow with a response. Otherwise, Feige will be known as a douche henceforth. Good move, Swardstrom. The other actors should speak up for Edward, if they are indeed personal friends. Agents are one thing, but the actors’ themselves have more weight, especially with the crowds.

    My prediction in the end of this fisaco: Norton is in!

    Comment by Slipstream — July 11, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

  2. “My prediction in the end of this fisaco: Norton is in!”

    I wonder if that’s still possible, would be cool if it is. A lot of fans are PO’d, and rightfully so. These continuity lapses are lame and take away a lot of the fun of the movies. Would be better if they simply didn’t have Banner in it at all than bring another actor in.

    Leave it to Marvel to screw the die-hard fans.

    Cal

    Comment by Cal — July 12, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  3. i may not watch the movie now to be honest, the “drama” from the hulk movie was norton standing up as a fan iirc. we need more actors to take pride in their work and not let execs and such of hollywood continue to pump out total crap. whats next banner is a shiney vampire that doesnt have sex with girls and turns into the hulk from sexual frustration? always been a huge marvel fan but meh, this has knocked them down from the pedestal i’ve placed them on for so many years. the first hulk movie, i didnt blame them for it wasnt their project, but now… *shakes head in disappointement*

    Comment by psylink — July 12, 2010 @ 2:11 am

  4. Keep Norton!

    Comment by Greg Davies aka cGt2099 — July 12, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  5. psylink, of course you’re going to see this movie, knock it off.

    Lots of drama, save it for the screen! Marvel ha s now garnered a rep for screwing actors in all sorts of ways. So not surprised by this any of this crap. I like Norton too, but if Whedon can cast someone as well as they did for Batman as example, then fans will be able to get over it. Otherwise, this will be the movie’s first disappointment.

    Comment by YasKuza — July 12, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  6. Of course, the whole thing still sounds a bit fishy.

    On another site, it has been suggested it might be a hoax:

    1. The “announcement’ was not an official press release, it was an email to an Internet reporter who has not always been right about what he reports (i.e. Captain America casting)

    2. The tone of the email (again, was not a press release) was pretty insulting, very uncommon. Usually they cite creative differences, etc. But this seemed pretty bad, especially when Norton is friends with some of the other actors Feige claims Norton isn’t collaborating with or whatever.

    3. Norton has yet to comment, just his agent (to the same reporter, for all we know this is just a big hoax), and not in a press release

    4. This is a really stupid idea, even for Hollywood/Marvel

    Of course, this could just be wishful thinking, but some of these things don’t add up, and until Marvel puts out an official statement (and not an email to a reporter), I am not 100% convinced the story is real.

    Cal

    Comment by Cal — July 12, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

  7. What I always find interesting when people bash someone like Norton and his difficulties to work with is the fact that he doesn’t make bad movies. If he is in a bad movie, he’s the best part. So, that being said, perhaps the directors and producers would do well to take points from someone of Norton’s abilities. It’s often been proven that a little agitation on the set can actually bring about a more passionately made movie. It sounds like a ridiculous cop out given the fact that Sam Jackson and Robert Downy have also been reported as being hard to work with. It does sound possible that it could be a money issue. It also sounds possible that they really just want a yes man to follow directions. That worked out well for the first Hulk, Spawn, Superman Returns, 3/4 of the Batman movies, Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3, and… well… you get the point. I honestly can’t imagine that Joss would have balked at the chance for someone like Norton to further spark the acting power already evident. It’s pretty unfortunate and tells me that the studios could really end up screwing this one up. Really the recipe is as simple as boiling water and again Hollywood looks apt to be out to burn it still. The best part is I bet that it’s going to be pure garbage and will still make millions in the box office.

    Comment by TopHatPainter — July 12, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  8. So much for wishful thinking, Norton just confirmed on his Facebook page.

    Dang.

    He is a class act compared to Feige if you read Feig’s and Norton’s statements.

    Cal

    Comment by Cal — July 12, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  9. PLEASE FIRE KEVIN……He is killin the Avengers and other marvel movies…Lik really who wanna c a remake of spiderman..lik really??

    Comment by Achilles — July 20, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

  10. Whatever rewrites or reshoots Norton may have pushed for during the filming of Incredible Hulk, the movie was definitely better for it. I personally think he took a stand for the integrity of the character specifically, and the material in general. Sure, he may be a bit of a prima donna, but how many actors aren’t? I agree with psylink: At least he understood what needed to be done and didn’t bow down to pressure from the studio or the execs.

    I’m glad TopHatPainter brought up the subject of Jackson and Downey Jr both having reputations as being difficult to work with. But they are Marvel Studios’ Golden Boys! They undoubtedly get whatever they want, and for good reason (at least in Downey Jr’s case. I still don’t see what the fuss is over Sam Jackson…) It definitely seems as if Marvel just wanted a “Yes Man” in Ruffalo. All respect to Whedon, but I have this feeling that no one is going to question anything he does with the Avengers flick, and perhaps someone thought he and Norton would butt heads at some point.

    But if you believe the response from Swardstrom, it seems Whedon and Norton left their meeting with high hopes. Once the financial offer was made however, things fell apart. Money is always the key. But again, I have to make mention that if the fate of the Avengers movie depended as much on the success of Hulk as it does Iron Man, Marvel would have thrown as much money as they could at Norton to stay.

    Comment by Jeffrey B — July 25, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

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