Avengers: why isn’t Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner?

When we follow the Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order, we obviously see that the character of Bruce Banner has changed face between “The Incredible Hulk” and “The Avengers”. But why didn’t Edward Norton reprise his role?

Avengers why isnt Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner Cinema
Universal Pictures

You have to go back to the beginnings of the MCU, to the first official film in the Marvel saga, to remember that Bruce Banner was not played by Mark Ruffalo, as has been the case for years, but by Edward Norton. So what happened to Banner between The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Avengers (2012)?

Officially, it all started in July 2010, when producer Kevin Feige announced that Marvel studio was going to do without the services of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. In a statement, he said:

Our decision is definitely not based on financial considerations, but on the need for an actor who embodies creativity and the spirit of collaboration with our talented actors. Avengers asks for actors who enjoy working together (…). “

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Universal Pictures

For his part, Ed Norton will post on his Facebook :

It looks like I won’t be playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in Avengers anymore. I sincerely hoped that this could take place in the best conditions for everyone, but it did not end as we all hoped.

“I know this is going to disappoint a lot of people and I am saddened by it”, he added. “I am very sincerely grateful to Marvel for having me [reproposé le rôle] and more for being a part of the Hulk’s long and successful history. “

However, his agent Brian Swardstrom has less kind words to Marvel, pointing out that the encounters between Feige, Whedon and his client “were going well” until, according to him, “A Marvel rep doesn’t call to say they’ve decided to go in a different direction for the character.”

He resigned himself, however: “It seems like a financial decision to us but whatever it is, we respect their decision, don’t hold it against them, and that is their strictest right.”

Norton’s replacement

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Mark Ruffalo, the new Hulk

A month later, at San Diego Comic-Con 2010, Marvel Studios confirms the then-lingering rumors: Mark Ruffalo will replace Edward Norton for the needs ofAvengers. Although he is discreet about the event scene, a few days later, Ruffalo comments on this opportunity:

I’m very excited, no one has ever played the Hulk [Eric Bana et Edward Norton avaient en effet laissé l’équipe d’effets spéciaux incarner le géant vert, NdlR]. I’m going to play Hulk with the performance capture they used on Avatar, it’s going to be fun.

This choice of casting is all the more ironic since in 2006-2007, the director Louis Leterrier wanted to have Mark Ruffalo in his Incredible Hulk, a casting choice that had been retouched by Marvel, if we are to believe given by the director in March 2013, less than a year after the release ofAvengers.

Post-Mortem by Norton

In 2019, Edward Norton reconsidered his departure from the MCU, explaining that he initially signed on for two solo films, which he describes as follows:

An origin story and the Hulk’s conscious dream, that of a man who can follow that dream. They replied “This is what we want!” and finally, it was no longer the case [au moment d’Avengers]. (…) But I got along well with Kevin Feige.

It should be remembered that the film rights for the Hulk solo films still belong to Universal Pictures, which is why the Hulk always appears alongside other characters within the MCU. And a Norton solo movie would have forced Marvel to share the profits with this studio.

And if since then, Marvel has taken the plunge with the Sony studio so that Spider-Man can appear alongside the Avengers, the company could not financially afford it in 2010, when the MCU was only in its infancy. .

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The Walt Disney Pictures

Hulk in “Avengers”

Today, Norton is not bitter about this missed meeting, which according to him, could have prevented him from carrying out the various experiments which he expected from the cinema.

As for Mark Ruffalo, he’s still the Bruce Banner of the Marvel Universe and has been for almost ten years. He has appeared in five feature films, made several cameos, and is currently filming the She-Hulk series for Disney +.

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