Marvel To Norton: Sorry But You're Kind Of A Jerk [UPDATE]

norton_hulk_225.jpgAnd who says that those in power never listen to the common man? Yesterday we reported that Marvel Studios was allegedly going to go with a new actor to play Bruce Banner/the Hulk in their big action ensemble, The Avengers. Edward Norton had previously played the tortured scientist/purple pants enthusiast in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, but got into a bit of tiff with Marvel execs over his script and the focus of the movie. But late last night Marvel Studios released a statement to HitFix explaining away the whole situation.

And for a Hollywood statement, it's a remarkably candid document:

"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."

Wow. There was no, "We had separate visions" or "We enjoyed working with Ed Norton and wish him all the best," or any other typical Hollywood breakup boilerplate. What kind of a colossal dick must Norton have been to Marvel for them to publicly announce that they're only looking for easy collaborators and actors who work well with others, and that ain't you, babe? The "this isn't about money at all, by the way" proviso is just salt in the wound.

Color me disappointed that Norton won't be reprising his role as Bruce Banner; I thought his Hulk was an underrated superhero flick and he had the perfect demeanor and build for puny Banner. At least Marvel is now saying that a "name actor" will be filling the role now, rather than the complete unknown rumored yesterday. As an astute commenter wrote yesterday, they could always cast Eric Bana just to complete the circle.


Damn, this is getting contentious. Norton's agent, Brian Swardstrom of WME has just responded with the following statement:

"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.

Well, spoiler alert for anyone going to the Marvel panel at ComiCon -- looks like you're gonna get a glimpse of the whole cast together. Photo-ops aside, this is a nice little sally square back to Marvel Studios. It was ballsy of them to flat-out call Ed Norton uncooperative but sometimes ballsy will get you a punch right in the kisser.

Of course, this might all just be the greatest amount of pre-production character work ever done. After all, the whole reason why the Avengers were founded was to hunt down the Hulk and ultimately, isn't that what's going on right now?

· EXCLUSIVE: Marvel confirms they will hire new 'Hulk' for 'The Avengers' [HitFix]

· EXCLUSIVE: Edward Norton's agent responds to Marvel Chief's statement' [HitFix]


  • Kirk Taylor says:

    One meaning of 'sally' is the verb 'to leap forth', as in charging into a battle, and I interpreted 'square' to mean 'directly'. So the comment 'nice little sally square back to Marvel' means essentially back to the negotiating table, which probably has some elements in common with a battle. I had to read it a couple of times myself because you're right, it's a rather odd turn of phrase.

  • King Kirby says:

    Remember who these actors are dealing with is no longer Marvel- it is Misney - or really Disney. And Disney is the powerhouse in Hollywood. They have synergized the Marvel movie unit with theirs- and they know movies and how to squeeze $ from them.
    Most likely it came down to how actors are all getting a piece of the licensing, etc and now with an ensemble and only so much action figure profit to go around.

  • jin says:

    wtf marvel?! i can imagine norton having a problem if they brought in some brain dead studio shill to direct the thing but i have ZERO ability to believe that norton found it impossible to talk to joss whedon. looks like money, smells like money, and if it's about money, this act of disinformation and defamation is inexcusable.

  • neurosine says:

    I want Brian Swardstrom as an agent. He knows how to deliver a message with conviction and grace. This in itself is a talent too few posses.

  • Sam says:

    To add to what Kirk said and translate it all literally "nice little sally square back to Marvel":
    - "sally" is a response to an attack (google it)
    - hitting something "square on" means to hit it directly with little to no loss of energy (think of a tennis ball return going directly back to the other player)
    So Marvel fired their "energetic" response at Norton and his team responded immediately by sending it right back at them.
    Also google "sally" and "square on" for more.

  • SMITHY says:

    I can tell you from personal experience by working on two films with Ed Norton that he is exactly as Marvel describes, even to the extent were he has isolated other cast members nearly to the point of quitting.

  • Andy says:

    All I can imagine is that in the script for The Avengers the amount of time that Bruce Banner appears is tiny, with most of it being the CGI Hulk instead. In between perhaps Norton wanting a little more screen time and the Marvel guys realising that they will be paying more for an actor who barely has any screen time this whole sudden change has happened. But whatever the reason, the statement from Marvel Studios certainly did them little favours - expect the court case for defamation of character soon.

  • TurdBlossom says:

    Adrian Brody for Bruce Banner. (Oh my God the Hulks nose will be HUUUUGE)

  • casting couch says:

    Norton smash!

  • Anony says:

    Norton has basically shot his career in the foot for the past ten years. The talent he displayed in Primal Fear has--to the studios--been replaced with an uncooperative pain in the ass actor trying to control everything:
    --rewriting every movie he's in
    --re-editing American History X
    --being forced by Paramount to do The Italian Job because he wouldn't complete their three-picture deal, and then refusing to do the promotional tour
    Who would want to work with this guy?

  • derp says:

    It doesn't matter if Norton is Hitler in disguise. It's unprofessional for a company to slander an actor in an official press release. I'm betting this guy is going to get canned for this.

    • Lisa says:

      He didn't - he actually got more power, Kevin Feige went on to win against Ike Perlmutter (the CEO of Marvel.)

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    Like all businesses, if you want to get away with being a pain in the ass you have to be a pain in the ass who guarantees results. Sorry, Ed.

  • Ty the Guy says:

    Just watched The Incredible Hulk for the first time this past weekend. I had no idea it was *that* bad. Anyone connected to it should be fired for that Abomination. (see what I did there?)

  • Marcelo says:

    NERD FIGHT!!!!

  • Warcam says:

    Just out of curiosity, what 2 films did you work on?

  • Jess Turisch says:

    I liked Eric Banna better anyhow. What are the odds he'll come back?

  • Angry Monkey says:

    LOL P.M.P. *(piss my pants)... You wouldn't like me anrgy Mr

  • Angry Monkey says:

    I felt Ed was the best Banner they have had... ever... but all of the Jade Jaws movies have fallen short on multiple levels.. Norton did bring out alot of suffering Banner had.. as for him being in group and not being the top dog.. he would have eventually stolen the show.. Norton is a great actor and better than the rest.. perhaps it is best that they only use him for Hulk only movies..
    If I had my way I would suggest that marvel just frame the movie at a time in the marvel universe when the hulk is not a mindless beast.. hmm gray hulk era.. post execution hulk?

  • Lucian Price says:

    About four years ago I visited a friend in Maryland, and the subject turned to Edward Norton. This friend's family owns a theater house, and dealt with Norton first hand. I was star struck, and asked what he was like in person. "A flake", "Controlling" and the word "Arrogant" came up the most. He never did a single thing that was asked of him.
    I believed my friend, but I assumed all famous actors were that bad. Just yesterday I heard Edward Norton added more screen time for him on American History X, and today I am reading this article. So yes, I believe he is exactly as bad as Marvel says, and my very honest, longtime friend.

  • Kent says:

    I thought Mark Ruffalo was the Hulk in The Avengers?!

  • Sherri says:

    Edward doesn't belong in Disney blockbuster crap. He's much better off in Indie type projects or scripts with challenging material and working with directors who allow him creative input. He is the real deal, not some schlock who needs to play superheroes for $$$. He took care of his mother and forewent a blossoming film career for over a year to watch over her. He is a real person, not a Disney bi-product. Everything happens for a reason...