One-time Marvel star Edward Norton, who played Bruce Banner-slash-Hulk in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, is open to returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Norton provided an uncredited reworking of The Incredible Hulk’s script and famously clashed with Marvel over final cut of the Louis Leterrier-directed followup to Marvel’s first independent effort — blockbuster hit Iron Man. Norton’s reported behind-the-scenes difficulty on Hulk led to his being ousted from the role and replaced with Mark Ruffalo from 2012’s The Avengers onward. When announcing the decision to move on from Norton in 2010, Marvel said in a statement the choice was “definitely not one based on monetary factors” and that the studio instead needed “an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit” of its Avengers ensemble.
“Yeah, why not? I had a lot of fun with it,” Norton said on Larry King Now when asked if he’d return to the Marvel universe. “I never made a movie like that.” Asked if he was “surprised” Marvel cast him in the role, Norton answered, “No, I was a good fit for Bruce Banner. So is Mark Ruffalo, he’s fantastic.”
“I mean, Mark and I came up together in New York. He’s like one of the best, and people always try to create fake arguments and stuff. But it’s like doing Hamlet,” Norton continued. “The Hulk, it’s like, Bill Bixby was great, Eric Bana was great, I hope I was good, Mark’s great. I think it’s just one of those things a lot of great actors are gonna get to do.”
In 2010, Norton’s representative, responding to the “offensive statement” from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, said Norton was “definitely open” to joining Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner in The Avengers. After a “very good” meeting with writer-director Joss Whedon, Norton was “enthusiastic at the prospect of being a part of the ensemble cast,” according to the representative.
But 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,” the agent said. “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.”
More recently, in October, Norton said he had plans for a pair of Hulk movies that skewed darker than Marvel’s plans.
“I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip,” Norton told The New York Times. “And they were like, ‘That’s what we want!’ As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted.”
Marvel, purchased by Disney in 2009, “weren’t going for long, dark and serious.”
“We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would’ve taken, and I wasn’t going to do that,” Norton said. “I honestly would’ve wanted more money than they’d have wanted to pay me. But that’s not why I would’ve wanted to do another Hulk movie anyway.”