CATEGORIES Movie News
Edward NortonFans of Marvel movies in general, and Edward Norton in particular, will no doubt Hulk out over the news that there will be a new Bruce Banner in the upcoming 'Avengers' movie.

Though Marvel says money is not the reason for the Ed-less Avengers, the Norton camp has indicated that there simply was not enough green thrown around to make Ed, uh, go green again.

In response to the story, which broke yesterday on HitFix, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige forwarded to that site the following statement:

"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 ... We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks." Edward NortonFans of Marvel movies in general, and Edward Norton in particular, will no doubt Hulk out over the news that there will be a new Bruce Banner in the upcoming 'Avengers' movie.

Though Marvel says money is not the reason for the Ed-less Avengers, the Norton camp has indicated that there simply was not enough green thrown around to make Ed, uh, go green again.

In response to the story, which broke yesterday on HitFix, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige forwarded to that site the following statement:

"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 ... We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks." (Read more at HitFix.)

Update: Norton's agent responds to Marvel CEO's statement.

Hey Marvel, here's a suggestion. How about ... Edward Freaking Norton?!

We won't be seeing this movie until May 2012 -- there's still time to go back to the bargaining table, no matter what the real reason for the breakup is.

To be honest, I was never wild about Norton as Banner anyway. Frankly, he's too good, something Feige may be aware of -- among the announced cast, Norton might stand out like Cary Grant in a soap opera. Robert Downey Jr. is an excellent actor as well, of course, but his redeemed renegade ways mesh perfectly with Tony Stark; it's less a movie role than an alter ego.

The Incredible HulkNorton is too fine for comic book work. The first time I watched 'The Incredible Hulk,' I did something I never do during a movie: I fell asleep. I kept asking myself, "What is Ed Norton doing here?" Then I asked myself, "What am I doing here?" And then I dreamt of puppies and cotton candy, and awoke only to have to watch the whole danged movie again.

The question is, do actors come to inhabit Marvel roles, or are the roles bigger than them -- no matter how big they may be? Tobey Maguire is not Spider-Man -- Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and Tobey Maguire played Peter Parker. Does that mean no one else could play Peter Parker? Of course they could.

That said, the new Hulk can't be a nobody. That would only work if nobodies had played comic book characters in this Marvel Millenium, a la Adrian Grenier as Aquaman in 'Entourage.' You can't expect Nobody to stand alongside the rest of the already announced (or presumed) Avengers: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow).

My first thought? Let Robert Downey Jr. double up. Seriously, Marvel movies are all CGI anyway. He played an Australian-turned-African-American in 'Tropic Thunder,' and he's already shown he can nail a superhero. He'd probably even do the second role at a discount rate.

Johnny Depp? Too wild. Nicolas Cage? I can see it, except for the fact that he's just Nic Cage in every movie he makes. Sean Penn would make a great brooding Banner, but he wouldn't do it, and shouldn't. They could drag John Travolta in -- can you see those eyes flash as the transformation begins? Matt Damon would make a sweet and humble Dr. Banner, and might tap into some of that stone-cold Mr. Ripley funk to get at Bruce's darker spots. I'd pay to see Brad Pitt do it -- but they couldn't pay him enough. Minus any trace of Mulder, David Duchovny might be interesting. Christian Bale if he weren't already Batman.

Jonathan Rhys-MeyersSo we know why those guys won't work. Here are two that would: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Jeremy Davies from 'Lost.'

Let the screaming begin. Hey, it's not our job to cast movies -- just to think about them. And to make you do the same thing.

So quit shouting at the screen and tell us: If you were casting, who should play The Hulk in 'The Avengers'?