According to a Marvel Studios statement posted on Hitfix, Ed Norton will not reprise the role of the Hulk/Bruce Banner in Joss Whedon’s superhero team-up flick, The Avengers.
“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers,” said Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige. “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.”
Ouch. In other words, following Norton’s reportedly controlling behavior on the set of The Incredible Hulk, Marvel doesn’t view him as a team player. Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom later issued a statement of his own to Hitflix, calling Feige’s comments “mean spirited” and “accusatory.”
“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,” Swardstrom wrote. “Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton’s talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans.”
Wow. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the lead-up to Comic-Con International, which kicks off in San Diego on July 22.
The Avengers hits theaters on May 4, 2012.