Ed Norton will not play The Hulk in 'The Avengers'

The third big-budget Hollywood film since 2005 featuring Marvel’s iconic Hulk character will feature a third actor in the role of the temperamental green hero. Hitflix.com broke the news this weekend that Marvel Studios will recast the role in the upcoming The Avengers with someone other than Ed Norton, who starred in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk; Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige went so far as to tell the site that the decision was “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.” Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom, fired back to Hitflix that Feige’s comments were “unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory,” and that Norton and director Joss Whedon had had a “very good meeting,” with the deal only falling apart after weeks of “civil, uncontentious discussions.”

The cast of The Avengers, slated for a 2012 release, currently includes Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and possibly Don Cheadle as War Machine.

Related: Who should play The Hulk in ‘The Avengers’ now that Edward Norton is out? We suggest one of the stars of Lost!

Comments (200 total) Add your comment
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  • Jackie

    Too bad, I really liked Norton’s Hulk :(

    • Mike

      Sounds like Norton has another hissy fit like he threw before the Hulk release. The guy is a great actor but seems like a real stuck on himself attitude.

      • Joe

        From what I recall, Norton only did his hulk movie under the condition he had full creative control over his character etc, so more than likely he wanted too much control with this new film and since it doesn’t feature only him obviously the exec’s couldn’t do it.

      • READ THIS

        I’m surprised EW didn’t provide Swardstrom’s full response, which paints the actor in a much better light (and makes Feige sound like a tool).

        Here’s the link:

      • Niix Starkyller

        Uh oh. Joss Whedon no likey silly contract/ego controversy. He’s also the sort who is willing to pull up his stakes (see what I did there?) and walk out when the suits don’t listen. Rather interested to see what The Whedon says about about this affair.

      • Brett

        Like losing Whedon would be so disastrous. Who’s to say that Whedon didn’t leave that meeting and say, “I can’t work with this egomaniac, Norton?” Norton’s agent assumes the reason was financial, but he doesn’t come out and say, “Marvel wanted my client to take less than what he should get.” I suspect they remembered what a pain in the ass Norton was during the making of “The Incredible Hulk,” saw that it did no better financially than Ang Lee’s “Hulk” and cost more to make, and decided, “Norton’s not worth the aggravation.”

      • Aly

        Who’s to say? Anyone who reported on their meeting. It went rather well so this debacle had nothing to do with any issues between Whedon and Norton.

      • cryan

        Am a big fan of Whedon’s. Long live Joss Whedon!!!
        IMHO, would like to see Matthew Fox get the part, with Whedon’s blessings of course. I think he look and play well with the cast already established. Very good actor and damn good looking!

    • Kat

      I love Ed Norton. I think The Illusionist and The Painted Veil are two beautiful films, which he produced as well as starred in. Thought he was a great Incredible Hulk, and the movie he directed costarring Ben Stiller, called Keeping The Faith, was swell. Thought he was a good villain in The Italian Job too, now that I think about it. He’s a fantastic actor, producer, screenwriter and director. My 2 cents.

      • becky

        i throw my two cents in with your two cents! couldn’t agree more. also great in Red Dragon. I’m inclined to take his side in the argument.

      • Ceballos

        I have no idea how you managed to praise Edward Norton and NOT bring up “American History X”, “Primal Fear” or “Fight Club”, but I’m kind of amazed!

      • Jim Danner

        What about the “25th Hour”? That was an excellent performance on his part.

      • Kat

        @Ceballos – Because I haven’t seen those movies! I’m a scaredy cat when it comes movies like that. But I love his other films that I listed!

      • JJJ

        He was pretty good in “The Score”. Good atmospheric film. Great acting and nice twisty ending.

      • marlowe32

        How about Death To Smoochy – an under-rated very funny film with Ed Norton and Robin Williams…

      • Ceballos


        No worries, and I don’t blame you…there’s some stuff in “American History X” I still haven’t fully gotten over.

      • Sue

        Ditto on “American History X”. Fell in love with Norton’s acting after that movie.

    • Twisted Sister

      ERIC BANA IS AVAILABLE. He was pretty good in Hulk; unfortunately the movie sucked.

      • Buffet

        Bana was good. The movie was great. YOU suck.

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      • SlyMac

        I agree, take Eric Bana… I actually liked that version of the Hulk, and he was really good in it.

    • Frank Anderson

      That is fine, since after their handling of Edward Norton my butt won’t be in a seat when The Avengers comes out. What a classless attempt at drumming up publicity! I thought Ed was great as the Hulk!

  • Stacie

    That seems about right.

  • Patrick

    Edward Norton not creative? Coming from the people making another comic book movie? Norton is fantastic, they just dissed one of their best actors.

    • darclyte

      I thought that he did a very good job as Banner, but there apparently was a LOT of behind the scenes issue with him and that movie. I think it was mostly Edward trying to help make the best movie possible, and not be a diva. I guess they just decided that they didn’t want to deal with that again. I hope that they make a really good choice for Banner, most of their casting has been great except perhaps Chris Evans (but even that I’ll give it a wait and see.)

      • Niix Starkyller

        Yeah, regardless of all that, I just don’t think there was ANY reason to air the dirty laundry. Norton may be a primadonna but Feige is a moron for shooting that into the mainstream.

  • bridgit

    NOOOOOOOO! Tell me it isn’t so! I was looking forward to seeing Edward, Robert, Samuel, etc all together in this film. Darn it!

    • J.

      Would have been epic.

  • Mike D

    Sure, and the rumors and speculations of Joaquin Phoenix taking over the role make this even more sad… tsk, tsk Marvel!

  • Heather2

    Yeah, Marvel. Good luck with this. There are few people in Hollywood that would recast Edward Norton, and Academy Award nominated actor. WTF. Are you serious? And Edward Norton not creative? Like I said, good luck.

    • MaxPowers

      They didn’t actually say he wasn’t creative. What they said is that he doesn’t embody the creativity and collaborative spirit of the other cast members. That’s basically a nice way of saying he’s a pain in the ass. I like Norton as an actor, but I would have been surprised if Marvel didn’t replace him. He bashed the Hulk movie when it came out because the cut they released wasn’t ‘artsy’ enough for his standards and would have stopped it’s release if he could. I’m just speculating here, but I bet the reason they’re replacing him is because he made some sort of ridiculous demands about having approval over the final cut after last time.

      • Heather2

        I’m sure that he can be a pain in the ass. He comes across as one of those actors, to me anyways, that will tell you straight up if the script or an idea is BS. They probably didn’t like that.
        And honestly after seeing The Incredible Hulk, there were some things in that movie that was rather cheesy, so I can see where he is coming from.
        My point is this. If they think they can find someone to embody the character of Bruce Banner better, than like I said before, good luck.

      • MaxPowers

        I have a feeling that Bruce Banner/Hulk is actually going to play a pretty small part in this movie and most of the screen time he has will likely be as the Hulk, so it probably won’t make much difference who plays him.

      • Heather2

        Well I guess that’s true.

      • Niix Starkyller

        There’s nothing nice about saying it that way. Really, no excuse for saying it at all. Just say, “Sorry, we’re going in another direction,” which is the time-tested and professional way of turning down an actor. Feige displayed a severe lack of professionalism, whether through malice or incompetence. Poor form, chum. Poor form.

      • DT

        Yeah, I’m a huge fan of Edward Norton, but you do have to wonder why such an extremely talented actor who was heavily in demand in the late ’90s/early ’00s rarely works and, when he does, the films aren’t all that. My guess is the rumors that he’s an obnoxious pain in the ass for directors is true. His last truly great movie was 25th Hour in 2002, and his few films since have been passably entertaining. Meanwhile, peers such as Leo, Matt Damon, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christian Bale (no easy-going guy himself but bankable), etc. have been putting out regularly good to great work. Plus, up-and-coming TV actors like Jon Hamm are starting to break into movies too. If he is insanely difficult to work with, maybe he ought to look around a little and see who’s getting all the plum gigs. Of course, Marvel Studios doesn’t treat their talent well either, so who knows where the fault lies?

      • MaxPowers

        @Niix Starkyller

        I disagree that Feige’s statement was unnecessary and showed a lack of professionalism. Fans want to know why Norton won’t be back and if Marvel just gave a generic ‘going in another direction’ answer it’s Marvel who would receive all the backlash. I found Feige’s statement to be refreshing. Yeah, if you’re familiar with the situation and read between the lines you can tell that he’s essentially saying Norton is a pain in the ass to work with, but I think he stayed classy and did it in a professional manner.

      • Niix Starkyller

        “…but I think he stayed classy and did it in a professional manner.”
        We shall, in good spirits, agree to disagree, then. Our respective opinions on this matter are diametrically opposite and show little hope of finding a middle ground. I’m afraid, my good man, we shall have no Versailles for this. At least we can both agree we hope the movie doesn’t suck giant monkey balls in the end.

  • dusen

    Too bad, but let’s face it, people are going to see this regardless. The only one that would be hard to replace would be RDJ since he is so well-established as Iron Man…the rest, meh.

    • Heather2

      I like RDJ just as much as the next person, but his name alone will not get me in a movie seat. Edward Norton however does. I went to see IM2 and that is two hours of my life I will never get back.

      • J.

        While IM2 sucked, I agree, RDJ was terrific. RDJ will bring people to the theaters, even if this movies sucks too.

      • m

        i am a fan of both actors, but looking at recent filmography in regards to who is going to put more people in the seats, i would have to go with rdj.

    • Jamie

      I won’t see it, not after Iron Man 2. First movie rocked, second was totally “meh,” and they only go downhill.

      Plus, we’ve seen already that *anything* with the Hulk is going to ^%&#*@#.

  • Todd

    They need to bury this hachet and get Norton in there.

    • Ann

      Hopefully the fan backlash of today’s news will persuade the studio to reconsider. If not, then that means we will have seen three actors play Bruce Banner in the span of nine years. But, yes, I too hope that both the studio and Norton can bury the hatchet.

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  • mark in nyc

    Get Eric Bana to do it.

    • matt

      that would be awesome, i prefer that version to ed nortons anyway.

    • Sarah

      That’s what i was thinking.

    • Erin

      I love me some Eric Bana!

  • Art Ghecko

    I hope this isn’t true, mostly because it would be really great to have some consistency in the characters from movie to movie. Norton did a fine job as Bruce Banner, and would be a worthy asset to the franchise. They say it’s not about money, but I’ll bet that’s exactly what it’s about. They don’t want to pay too many big-budget salaries with that many actors in the franchise. They could just leave Bruce Banner out, and give us a 100% CGI Hulk. I’d volunteer to do the voice-over work: “Hulk Smash! Hulk Bash!”. Where’s my residual check?

  • leroy grey

    Since Norton’s officially out, is it right to start lobbying for Steve Buscemi as Bruce Banner? He’s got the skills, the build, and the eyes. Besides, the man deserves a franchise!

    • donknottz

      He just got one on HBO. Boardwalk Empire.

    • J.

      Worst idea ever.

    • scottzilla

      Awesome idea. Buscemi would make a great Banner. He even looks a bit like Banner from the animated Avengers movies.

      • J.

        Buscemi is a hunchback short of Quasi Modo. I agree you want someone in his weight class, but choose someone less sickly looking.

  • Chris20906

    Spoiler alert… Adam Lambert takes over and the the Hulk breaks out into a fabulous music video.

    • Heather2


    • Ann

      Too funny!

    • thin

      I’d go to that!

    • David

      Adam did do an excellent job as one of the shrieking wring wraiths in Lord of the Rings, so he may be able to pull off the hulk. :-)

  • Makeith

    I think what they are trying to say is that he is a pain to work with. There’s been stories about him for years on how he’s so difficult to direct and that’s just him as the only star of the movie now, if you add that kind of person with other well know superstars it could be a making for a bad set. I don’t think they are really questioning his artistic talents.

    • Ann

      The role wouldn’t have been huge so it’s not like there would 90 minutes of filming with Norton. Studio should have just taken one for the team – so to speak.

      • Jeremy

        That doesn’t matter. He’s still hard to work with. You think that because the role is supposedly smaller that somehow he’ll tone down his ego? Give me a break.

    • Niix Starkyller

      Regardless, should not have been said in Feige’s statement. No call for it.

  • Tessa

    This is completely off topic, but I have to mention how exciting it is to see the words, “director Joss Whedon.”

    • Kayde_Lyn

      lmao, I totally agree! That was pretty much all I got out of this article…

    • Brett

      Thank goodness there’s also “producer Jon Favreau,” to overcome the stink of box office poison emanating from “director Joss Whedon.”

      • thin

        I think “box office poison” might be overstating it a bit, but I was certainly surprised to see him as the director of what is intended to be a giant blockbuster. And I say that as someone who has been a big fan of pretty much everything he’s done.

      • Andy Bluebear

        He’s box office and TV poison. With the exception of Toy Story, nothing he ever did was a huge hit. Buffy/Angel were big since they were part of the late 90s WB wave of shows aimed at mostly teenage teens and tweens (the wave included Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, etc). So…here’s hoping they can keep Joss’s stink in check.

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