In case you missed the news, Marvel and Ed Norton lobbed a gossip grenade into geekdom on Friday night. Marvel announced, once and for all, that Norton would not be reprising his role of Bruce Banner / The Hulk in The Avengers. Norton's agent fired back to HitFix, calling Marvel's statement "purposefully misleading" but also noted that he and his client "accepted their decision with no hard feelings."

Whether those feelings are good or bad are inconsequential to the Marvel moviemaking machine. With ComicCon only a week and a half away, Marvel is racing to recast. They are hoping to have all those Avengers onstage come Saturday, July 24. The rumor mill is about to go into overdrive and we have our first name, courtesy of CHUD. Their Marvel sources report that an offer has gone out to none other than Joaquin Phoenix.

It's rumor, and it's only an offer. Phoenix could still turn them down. Nevertheless, it's a surprising choice, though I could see the actor-turned-rapper doing it. Phoenix needs a comeback big time, and he's never been entirely above big popcorn movies. He is certainly as talented as his predecessor, and looks enough like Norton and Eric Bana that many who don't follow this stuff as exhaustively as we do (and there are many!) would barely notice. But it's hard to understand why Marvel keeps flinging themselves against notoriously troubled and difficult actors. Could Phoenix really be cheaper and more malleable than Norton?