A disturbing report has surfaced at HitFix claiming Marvel has decided to cast an unknown in the role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers movie rather than Ed Norton, the actor who played the character in The Incredible Hulk film.
HitFix writer Drew McWeeny launches into a lengthy diatribe on the decision that would mark the second major cast member change since Marvel’s The Avengers motion picture initiative began with, ironically, The Incredible Hulk. As is the case with Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard as Rhodey/War Machine in Iron Man 2, penny pinching by Marvel Studios is the supposed deciding factor for booting Norton to the curb.
I agree with every point Drew makes as to why Marvel is tarnishing the image of The Avengers if this pans out to be true. We have all been anticipating Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Ed Norton coming together in the penultimate Marvel film with Joss Whedon pulling the strings. We aren’t talking a sidekick like Rhodey here. Bruce Banner/The Hulk is a major piece of The Avengers. To replace the face of that piece over money concerns after fans have already invested hundreds of millions of dollar into the previous films is a thousand slaps to the face.
In Marvel’s defense, Drew’s does not claim to have seen the script, nor any of his sources where this rumor came from. For all we know Bruce Banner is only seen from behind crouching in a corner at the beginning of The Avengers, then spends the rest of the film as a CGI Hulk. Even that would play out as a cop out to avoid paying Norton to reprise the role he’s already become associated with.
Marvel is doubtful to comment on rumors so close to Comic-Con so we’ll likely have to wait until then to see if The Avengers “assemble” on stage. Should Marvel march out The Avengers cast with an unknown in Norton’s place or no one represented, I would be shocked if the hall did not switch their cheers to boos in a heartbeat.
Let’s hope the overwhelming displeasure aimed at this rumor is seen in every corner of Marvel’s offices as to potentially trigger a chance of heart. Filming is still a good 6 months or more off. There’s plenty of time to do the right thing.
Read Drew’s scoop and rant at HitFix.