Third Hulk’s the Charm

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
– Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige to Edward Norton.

Well, if he didn’t really say that, he sure should have. Because it would have been awesome. I’m sure that most comic book fans have heard by now the news from earlier this month that Edward Norton has been fired from his role as The Hulk in the upcoming superhero crossover movie ‘The Avengers’. Now word comes from the San Diego Comic-Con that Marvel Studios officially announced that his replacement will be… Mark Ruffalo. Huh.

This marks the third actor in as many movies to play the role. First we had Eric Bana in 2003’s drearily dull ‘Hulk‘. It really wasn’t the actor’s fault that the movie turned out so tedious, but Marvel decided to clean house for 2008’s quasi-sequel/quasi-reboot ‘The Incredible Hulk‘ anyway, and brought Edward Norton in to star. To be honest, that picture wasn’t particularly good either, but at least it was slightly less boring. Comic fans seemed to find it more acceptable.

Norton has a notorious reputation for being difficult and temperamental to work with. You’d think that would actually make him a good fit for the rage-fueled Hulk character. However, he apparently must have pissed off the studio execs a little too much. Despite earlier indications that he was on board with ‘The Avengers’ and looking forward to working with director Joss Whedon, Marvel’s Kevin Feige announced his dismissal in astoundingly pissy terms:

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.


So, now we know that the new “name actor” in question will be Mark Ruffalo, from ‘Shutter Island‘ and ‘The Kids Are All Right‘. His probably isn’t the first name I would have thought of, personally, but he’s a decent actor.

I have no particular attachment to this franchise, in either comic book or movie form. I am a fan of director Joss Whedon, though. So I hope this works out for him.

Here’s the cast line-up:

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulsen
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow
Chris Hemworth as Thor
Chris Evans as Captain America
Sam Jackson as Nick Fury
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk

And that’s the first poster to the right. (The poster may not be official. See comments below.)

[via Topless Robot, here and here.]


  1. If the rumored plot is true, I think the actor that portrays Bruce Banner will be pretty unimportant in The Avengers. I have a feeling he’ll be Hulk more more often than Banner.

    I have no idea how Ruffalo will do as The Hulk, but the poster makes me way happy. I hated the look of Norton’s hulk with the way too defined musculature. This one’s a little more my style.

  2. JoeRo

    I’m looking forward to this Avengers movie, even sans Norton. Like Josh I wasn’t overly fond of the Hulk movie, any Hulk movie, but it was decent enough … I guess. I’m not really a fan of superhero films/comics these days, having grown up with the medium and seen very little change I think I sort of just left it behind. That said, I love what Marvel is doing in terms of creating a persistent film universe for their characters to play in.

    In the past 10 years or so I’ve only really enjoyed the first two X-men movies (the second one was better by far)and the first Iron Man. I’m hoping against hope that Whedon will be able to craft a film full of characters I don’t care about into something that I actually want to see. Fingers crossed.

  3. Alex

    Hey guys. I’m not sure that can possibly be a genuine poster there to the right. First, the Photoshop work is pretty shoddy. Second, look at the cast list on the poster. It has Edward Norton and Nathan Fillion (who, yes, should have been Green Lantern) on it.

    I’m way looking forward to a real poster, though.

  4. motorheadache

    I liked Incredible Hulk, and it kind of pisses me off that they don’t use Norton, since it blows the continuity. It’d be one thing if Norton wasn’t interested or pulled some shit like demanding too much money, but Marvel’s reasoning remains mysterious. Hopefully the movie will be good anyway, but I just hate it when they change actors, especially when they are trying to create an all-encompassing universe with the characters.

  5. Josh Zyber

    As someone who isn’t a comic book reader, do the X-Men or Spider-Man belong to the same continuity as these other characters? Why aren’t they part of the Superfriends… errr, excuse me… the Avengers?

    • coologuy1957

      They are all in the Marvel universe but they are on different teams. Spider-Man, The Avengers, and the Fantastic Four are all based out of New York city but they have different origins and affiliations. The X-Men are based out of Westchester, New York. The Avengers are a team of superpowered heroes of various origins – Captain America was created with the US governments super serum, the Hulk is irradiated by a bomb, Thor is -um- a god, Hawkeye has no powers but exceptional skill, Iron Man obviously uses his powered suit.

      The X-Men are largely separate and take part in a different area of superheroes as they are mutants – they are superpowered because of mutation in human genetics. As such they usually do not take part in superhero/villain fighting as they have their own mutant problems to deal with – largely as an analogy to race relations in America.

      Spider-Man is neither born with a super powers or a mutant – he is given powers by an irradiated spider and he was brought about mainly to have a younger hero kids could identify with as he was a teenager when he was created. Spider-Man generally fights his own battles and is not associated with any team.

      The Fantastic Four has a brother and sister (Johnny and Sue Storm), husband and wife (Reed Richards and Sue), and Reed’s best friend Ben Grimm who are all bombarded with cosmic rays to gain their powers.

      Because they are all in the same geographic area they cross paths a lot, but they still remain separate entities.

      This is demonstrated in the Secret Wars and Civil War series where the X-Men do not pick sides and Spider-Man switches allegiances. They are very much segregated in the Marvel Universe.

      The Superfriends or Justice League is just a random grouping of DC’s best heroes whereas the Avengers are a team that keeps most of its core parts (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc.). The rest of the roster rotates. In reading about their initial creation, unlike the timeline the movie is going off of, they came together to fight Loki by accident and decided they should band together to fight what no one other could defeat on their own. Lately, they have had many incarnations of the Avengers including Wolverine and Spider-Man and such but that was not the original vision of the team. The movie Avengers seem to have the original roster but with a different/more recent plot line for how the team is brought together.

      Technically, they could have the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and X-Men all show up and fight together because they are the same continuity but there is a practical business problem. The properties are owned by different studios – Spider-Man by Sony, X-Men & Fantastic Four by 20th Century Fox, The Avengers and all characters within it are owned by Marvel Studios.

      That is the only reason you are seeing a big team like this come together – because Marvel Studios is self-producing its own movies for all of the individual characters – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. All the rest of the minor characters are going to have short films so people can know about them before The Avengers movie in 2012.

      This is the reason you don’t see a Justice League movie even though they have wanted to do one for forever. They would need the two biggest rights – Superman and Batman – and now the rights to Green Lantern. Would they get Brandon Routh and Christian Bale and Ryan Renolds for their parts or other people? Who knows… It doesn’t seem feasible at this point… Plus DC is infinitely lamer… Superman, Batman, and… Aquaman??? and Hawkman? and the Flash? ya….

  6. This really ticks me off. Norton was easily the best Banner AND Hulk (he motion capped Hulk’s movements and facial expressions).

    I recently edited together Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk, using his version of the script. It runs almost 30 minutes longer. I hate it when studios mess with a Director and Writer’s original vision, especially when they don’t release that version to the public. So I took matters into my own hands. Unfortunately, there’s currently no legal way to share that with anybody.

    • Andrew

      I believe you can legally share a fan edit of a film as long as you don’t receive any money for them. There’s tons of Star Wars edits online. I’d love to see your version so I hope you upload it somewhere. Although I actually think Eric Bana was a more interesting Bruce Banner even if the film he was in was far from perfect.

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