Back on Sunday, news broke out that Marvel had dropped Edward Norton as the Hulk in the upcoming Avengers movie. Originally, it was reported that the decision was based on Norton’s alleged inability to work well as part of an ensemble, amongst other things. Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom, is singing a different tune.
Yesterday, Brian issued a statement saying this:
“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.
Norton, wanting to add his thoughts on the matter, took to his Facebook yesterday and said this to his fans:
It’s pretty obvious that Norton and his team were fully on board, and I’m getting the feeling that there is more to this than Marvel is letting on. Of course, I could be wrong, but I somehow doubt that. How awesome would that have been though, for the people at Comic Con? Sadly, that’s never going to happen.
Movie website Chud is saying that there are rumors about Joaquin Phoenix being the next actor to be offered the Banner role. We all remember his meltdown, fake or not, and he did say he was retiring from acting to be a rapper, although that could be fake too. Regardless, Phoenix is a damn good actor. Just watch his role in Gladiator, and tell me that he didn’t do a great job. My only problem is this: I don’t picture Phoenix as Dr. Bruce Banner.
Whatever happens, and if Phoenix is the guy who surprises fans at the Comic Con panel for Avengers, I sure as fuck hope we don’t see this in the movie: