Film rumor website HitFix has confirmed, in a statement from Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige that Ed Norton will not be taking part in the upcoming “Avengers” film, due for release in 2012. According to the statement, the decision was not based on Norton’s salary, but rather “rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.”
Norton, who portrayed the jade giant as well as his human alter-ego Bruce Banner in 2008’s “Incredible Hulk” was involved in an infamous spat with Marvel Studios and director Louis Leterrier over the final cut and direction of the film that nearly caused the production to be scrapped. It is little surprise that Marvel chose to move in this direction due to their artistic differences, and Feige also assures that they will “announce a name actor who embodies these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.”
In more positive news, Feige’s statement confirms that all other principle cast members, including Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth are all still on board with the production. Black Widow was not yet confirmed as appearing in the film, though rumored, and the same can be said about The Hulk.
So, who should take Norton’s place? Feige’s announcement specifically states that they will be hiring a “name actor,” so unknowns are off the table. Speculators, start your engines!
“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.”
Brain Swardstom, Ed Norton’s Agent’s Response:
“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.