It’s Official: Edward Norton Won’t Be An Avenger

Marvel Studios has confirmed earlier reports that Edward Norton will not reprise his role as Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Instead, another actor is being sought to join the ensemble cast.

In a statement sent to HitFix from the London set of Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige wrote:

“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.”

Presumably that announcement will be made July 24 during the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con International.

The earlier story by HitFix had suggested the decision to replace Norton was a financial one. However, it’s clear from Feige’s statement that Marvel is looking for a “team player,” so to speak. That perhaps lends credence to widely circulated, but frequently denied, reports that Norton had fought with studio executives over the final edits to 2008′s The Incredible Hulk.

Judging from the comments on our earlier post, this news won’t sit well with a number of fans.

The Avengers, which presumably is directed by Joss Whedon, stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson … plus a handful of others we’ll learn for certain in two weeks. The movie opens on May 4, 2012.

UPDATE (Sunday, July 11): Norton’s agent has responded to Feige’s comments.

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Comments

  • VanGoghX

    Ouch. That's messed up. Ed can't be happy about that. Or he may not care one way or the other considering the poor performance of the Hulk's last outing. IMHO the first Hulk movie was the superior of the two, so I can't muster up much personal concern regarding this latest news.

  • http://twitter.com/tomdaylight tomdaylight

    Just do the film without the Hulk then…

  • Josh

    With or without Norton this movie is going to be a mess. I mean Iron Man 2, Spiderman 3 and Batman Forever/and Robin prove that having two many super-things in a movie just make it retarded and convoluted.

  • Eugene

    @tomdayliht If the reasoning is really norton not being a team player, why sacrifice a popular character from the movie for that reason?

    @Josh are you honestly comparing iron man 2 to batman forever or batman and robin? Even if you thin IM2 was not good, it has to be in a diff league than those two atrocious movies.

  • Crov

    Damn it, Marvel.

    Ed Norton ain't passionate about Hulk? Well, if you weren't trying to screw him over the TIH he might still be…

  • darthtigris

    This is unfortunate, but understandable. Sounds like they're really committed to making The Avengers work as a great ensemble on screen. Considering how varied the characters are, that bodes VERY well for the movie. And, to be honest, the success of it as a movie is more important than any one actor.

  • Mr_Wayne

    Marvel switches gears like normal people change underwear. How many reboots, and recasts does a studio need until they realize that “hey maybe this is all we're actually going to be able to squeeze outta this character/franchise.”??? Ridiculous. I hope Marvel doesn't dilute the comic book film genre by taking away the intangible x-factor (no pun intended) from the mystery and allure of these types of films by over saturating the market with useless reboots and useless films to begin with.

  • CXXG

    Sadly, the three hour long navel-gazing clusterfulk created by Ang Lee caused Marvel to be gun shy about the running time of the Norton reboot (a far more faithful interpretation of the Hulk, imho).

    Norton was ticked and said so. Marvel writes the checks so they get to choose who plays with their action figures. This ain't Middle East Peace.

    I just hope they find a way to give everyone in the cast some meaningful screentime. Whedon knows how to wrangle an ensemble of actors; I hope he can manage a gaggle of “stars” as well.

    Oh, and Mr. Wayne, if nipples on the Batsuit didn't kill the comic movie genre, nothing can.

  • http://www.chrisarrant.com Chris Arrant

    I'm probably amongst the minority, but I've always had a soft spot for Eric Bana's portrayal of Banner in the first HULK movie. The Ang Lee was agonizing in moments — I wish they edited the hell out of it. What if they brought back Bana?

  • Ben

    Boooooo.

  • Cfrosch1

    Whatever the reason, Marvel Studios needs to learn to be more professional in making announcements like this if they want to keep getting A-list talent.

    I think money was a factor, anyway – and there's nothing wrong with that.

  • http://twitter.com/RomanColombo RomanColombo

    I'm ok with this. I remember a lot of Norton's comments after Incredible Hulk came out and he never really seemed like a team player. I liked the Incredible Hulk, but I think an Avengers movie can be done without Norton perfectly fine. Plus, we won't have the ten billion Norton name plugs throughout the movie.

  • Deanjsimons

    But Hulk not team player anyways, wordy-man.

  • Tec449

    Hulk is a CG character. Not much room in the Avengers story for Bruce Banner anyway. No need to worry about who gets the most face time. They're all going to make oodles of cash for very little work (because there are so many characters), have a blast making the movie, and go on worldwide junkets. Pity Ed Norton who is passing up a big payday. Did they tell you the name of the game, boy? They call it “Riding the Gravy Train”.

  • Uncle Nobs

    You're totally right. It's a simple formula. Like when Batman Begins sucked because it had Ra's Al Ghul AND the Scarecrow AND Falcone AND Mr. Zsasz. Or when The Dark Knight sucked because it had the Joker AND Two-Face AND the Scarecrow.

    Oh wait, those DIDN'T suck. Maybe it's not so formulaic and has more to do with the creative process being… creative?

  • Mwedmer

    I want Steve Buscemi to play Banner. He is perfect.
    Eric Bana has the range of wet cardboard and that film was overwrought with far to much introspection. And don't get me started on nick nolte. Hell Jennifer connely who is a solid actress was abot as exciting as watching paint peel also.

    Incredible Hulk was a far superior film in every way and was closer to the Comic than the first by lightyears.

    The amount of Box office is not how to judge a films worth.
    If that was the case, the Twilight films would be masterpieces instead of the drek they are.

  • Jamerson

    Got to agree with Uncle Nobs on this. Ensemble casts can be done as long as they are done well. With Spider-Man 3, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin, none of the faults with those movies had anything to do with there being too many characters present. The problem was the hokey writing and concepts that were presented.

    And you're really going to call Iron Man 2 “retarded and convoluted”? I'll never understand people coming down so hard on Iron Man 2. I thought the movie was great. A worthy sequel to the original. As awesome as the original? Maybe not. But still in the top-5 in comic book movies, in my opinion.

  • Uncle Nobs

    I'd love Buscemi as Banner. I almost made that comment myself.

  • Dfpunk1

    that's bullcrap edward norton was a great bruce banner and plus hes a talented actor, i cant believe they did that makes me want to cry

  • Josh

    Because there was such a focus on Zsasz in that movie? And if anything Begins was kind of episodic. There was the parts in Asia. Then versus Falcone. Then it transitioned to Scarecrow. Then to Ra's.

    Scarecrow was in like 5 min of TDK and then it went Joker and then transitioned to Two-Face's (truncated) tale.

  • Josh

    Well I'm going with Chris Nolan is a better director than Joss “I've never done anything bigger than a cult hit” Whendon. And let's be real, there is a ton of shit going into this movie. This isn't an ensemble cast and look at how the Batman movies worked, it's because they limited the interactions between all the superpowered people and shit. In this movie you have Thor interacting with Cap who's interacting with Iron Man who fight Hulk while dealing with Nick Fury and then just for good measure Scarlett Johansen because boobs.

    And Iron Man 2 was just “oh say this and throw in this person to set up this in that movie”. The CGI kind of sucked. The story was lame. “OOO a guy in a suit to fight Iron Man, we haven't done that yet.” The first movie was good to great. So when the second one was alright it was a let down. Especially since your second movie is supposed to be your best (Empire, TDK; shit like LOTR is the exception).

  • demoncat_4

    Marvel is taking a risk by going with a new hulk. though given how Marvel seems to have a formula that has worked so far. Marvel must know what they are doing deciding Edward is not going to be the hulk. bet that comment of wanting some one who would be a team player might be a little dig at Edward having a rep of being a control freak with his projects. wonder who the new hulk will be

  • Uncle Nobs

    Exactly–they used multiple characters from canon in a creative way. Whereas other superhero movies that are criticized for having too many characters simply failed to use those characters creatively.

    It's not a simple formula of: Too many villains/heroes = bad movie. If that were the case, the original Star Wars movies would be considered awful. It's always a question of creativity. Just like everything else in the creative process, there needs to be a creative reason for including each character.

    I still dig X2 (not sure if anyone else does), which clearly used a classic approach to an ensemble cast. It used each character for a specific purpose (except Halle, of course) to further the plot. It provided just enough characterization to ancillary characters to make them useful, while not losing focus on the main characters.

  • Pyramid

    I remember there were numerous creative differences over character development by Norton over Banner.

  • Zenbryo

    That's ridiculous. It's either money-based or grudge-based, because Ed Norton is one of the finest actors alive right now. So ridiculous. Marvel's hardball strategy is pissing off a lot of people for no good reason.

    Thanks Marvel. I would have really liked to see Robert Downey Jr and Ed Norton on screen together.

  • Dave

    Norton was great.
    Marvel's pushing it by trying to change Hulk actors again so soon.
    I think they want to prove it's the characters and not the actors who are the draw.
    But look how much disinterest the casting of the new Spider-Man generated.
    It's one thing to replace a disapointing actor (Bana), with a better actor (Norton).
    But why change a winning team?
    by the way, Did anyone notice how the end of Ironman left doubt that Downey Jr. whould even be an Avenger?

  • mickeylodeon

    For me, Ed is the perfect Bruce Banner!! Wrong decision for Marvel.

  • Genius Jones

    Meh, Norton was okay as Banner; that whole movie was just okay. But he didn't bring anything to character of Banner that any number of other actors in Hollywood couldn't also bring. And those other actors, while doing just as good a job, won't bring along Norton's infamous baggage. So I don't see it as being a big deal.

  • Lackshmana

    My two biggest concerns from this news are…

    1) Why even have the Hulk in this movie? The big three of the Avengers are Cap, Thor and Iron Man. I feel like the Hulk is being forced in to captialize on name recognition. I understand that the Hulk has ties to the origins of the team, but that seems pointless for a modern version.

    2) Why have Joss Whedon direct this? What successful films has he directed? The guy has a cult following amongst the hardcore geeks who are going to see the movie anyway, but outside of that niche market he has no box office appeal at all.

  • Genius Jones

    1) They are probably trying to adapt Ultimates 1 by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch, the modern re-telling of the Avengers Origin, which includes a big fight with the Hulk when the team is first coming together. Before Hulk sort of joins the team.

    2) I have had that same thought myself.

  • ShadowVoyd

    Honestly, it's kinda sad. Allegedly Whedon and Norton had a great meeting, with Norton clearing his schedule out to make room for Avengers, but it might just be Norton's “schedule”/”profile” that's the issue. With Marvel's nine picture deal commitments and their going gonzo on the epic branding in regard to marrying actors to their roles, I think they want a guy who'll commit 100% to the Banner role and run with it.

    I hate to admit I get the rationale, as I find myself more upset about this bit of musical chairs casting than I expected to be (particularly as I smell an end around in regard to Joss Whedon wanting Norton as much as Norton wanted to be there) but it's logical to want a guy who'll show without issue for any possible sequels to The Avengers and/or The Incredible Hulk.

    I especially think it might be about future attempts rebranding the “face” of The Incredible Hulk franchise in a way that'll sell the package in whatever they feel is a “definitive”, box office friendly way. It's the ugly but practical nature of the beast.

  • Adam Boreham

    Ed Norton… The best actor on the list and they don't sign him up… idiots! They should be getting rid of Jacksons stupid Nick Fury!

  • Neil Harris

    Reading the announcement, my interpretation is that Norton would not take a salary commensurate with being a member of an ensemble cast and wanted to be paid as an action movie star.

  • DJM

    It is disappointing to see that Norton will not be in the film as he was very good in The Incredible Hulk, but it is the story they go with and the use of the characters that will make of break The Avengers rather than whether Norton (or any other actor/actress) is in the film or not.

  • tads

    bastards! Ed's a great actor! alot better than eric banana!

  • Cheesey1

    Completely, uneducated guess here, but Norton apparently worked perfectly well with Leterrier, so I'm blaming Whedon. Oh well, I'll get over it. I just hope that they pick somebody quality.

  • nickmarino

    hmmm looks like War Machine's not gonna be in the Avengers movie… or if he is, it's gonna be one crappy cameo.

  • http://www.spinoffonline.com Kevin Melrose

    This is based on absolutely nothing except what was in my head when I woke up this morning: What if Marvel is looking for an actor who's also willing to sign on for an Incredible Hulk TV series?

  • Grant

    So what's Alexis Denisof doing right now?

  • Dris

    Have to say I think Carmine Giovinazzo would be a pretty good choice if they're wanting a lower pay grade actor who can work in an ensemble cast.

  • R1

    Norton is undoubtedly a terrific actor, which is why I don't mind him not returning as he commited a fraction of his talent to TIH. Add that to him rewriting the script and griping about the editing, it's no surprise Marvel wants someone who'll check their ego at the door for the sake of the picture. Avengers Assemble!…eventually.

  • PresumptuousMuch

    Wow a lot of people here epitomizing the negative stereotype of fan boys. So you all have access to 1) Marvel's negotiations/meeting with Norton re: the role and 2) a finished version of The Avengers film? The same “jump the gun” mentality you're putting into KNOWING Whedon would do a bad job (Because previous comic movie directors were all 100% qualified for job) you are now putting into KNOWING the movie will suck without Norton. Or you're bashing Marvel because you know Edward Norton has never been known to create problems. You have to get over it. There is a chance that this isn't Marvel's doing. There is a chance the film may not be that bad. And there's a chance that Whedon will do a good job. But you have, you know, give someone the benefit of the doubt.

  • Darknessatnoon

    I am SURE Whedon will do a bad job, but the real problem is Marvel's unprofessional tone in this announcement. It's incredibly childish.

  • Patrice

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001570/

    # The Avengers (2012) (announced) (rumored) …. Bruce Banner

    who tell the true.

  • Josh

    Yeah but we have Joss Whendon here. No a good filmmaker like Singer or Nolan. And to be fair the original Star Wars movies were pretty bad with Empire being the only one that's watchable. This isn't going to be an ensemble cast as much as it is just going to be like the other ones because it's going to be LOOK THOR LOOK CAP OHMANHEJUSTSAIDAVENGERSASSEMBLE

  • Bambam76

    1) Norton was good as Banner and could have been great if they didn't edit his character building scenes, like the bit with Doc Samson at Betty's. Instead eveyone was low-key to elevate Hulk.
    2) Is Norton really out? Maybe it's a scare tactic. What else is possible?
    3 Marvel kicks actors and egos to the curb, Norton, Lawrence and almost Jackson before Iron-man, though Jackson an edge becasue his likeness was used in Ultimates.
    4) Psst, Edward tell them you're in, then work subtely to get your ideas across. I bet Downey gets what he wants, but he charms them and is playful. Who likes to be pushed around? Edward ease up! Marvel chill! 11th hour – get it together for all of us involved!

  • Ryan_bret

    SHARLTO COPLEY AS BRUCE BANNER PLEASE!

  • gordon

    This is unfortunate because Norton really was quite good, and Fiege's statement is comes across a bit immature (whatever happened to politely citing “creative differences” or just saying “he wanted to spend more time with his family”?), but I'm surprised by the negativity toward Whedon. Sure, he hasn't had a big action hit, but neither had the directors of most of the better superhero movies recently. Favreau had Elf, but nothing on his resume showed he could handle a film on the scale of Iron Man. Personally, I thought it was a mistake when they hired him, but I was clearly wrong. Raimi had over a decade of smal budget movies, a few of which got great reviews but nobody saw them. Even Singer only had the Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil and a couple of really low budget independent movies. And as a director Branagh has pretty much just done about a half dozen Shakespeare adaptations and the god-awful Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Hell, Memento and Insomnia didn't exactly set the box office on fire before Nolan got hired for Batman Begins. Whedon's got Emmy and Oscar nominations for writing, Serenity got some relatively positive reviews and he wrote a spectacular run of X-Men comics. I've got some doubts about him handling big-budget action without it looking like a 2-hour episode of a TV show (which, while I loved Serenity, is pretty much what it felt like), but I think he's about as good a choice as any to write the script. I'm willing to give him the benifit of the doubt on directing it for now.

  • Will Dockery

    Too bad. Norton made an almost perfect Banner… & his Bill Bixby homages just added to it.

  • Great_bretzky

    Eric Bana!!!!

  • Radiate

    Now I hate to question the legitimacy of HitFlix, but isn't there a possibility that “statement” from Kevin Feign is fake…?

  • Lee

    I think Norton had a bad experience with Marvel on Hulk for not getting credit on the Rewrite. Honestly Zak Penn is such a horrible writer I have little faith in this movie even if Whedon is directing

  • Lee

    I agree, unless the Hulk is the villain you dont need him in, and if he's the villain then we dont really need Banner in it.

  • Dale

    They shouldve stayed with Eric Bana as Bruce Banner. I was very dissatisfied with Norton as Banner. Wasnt Believable !

  • Sonofspam

    Well that was sort or rude and unprofessional but whatever i wasn't all that keen on his version of Bruce.

  • lead_sharp

    Slowly loosing interest in this

  • redvector

    I'd say they've already picked somebody to play the Hulk/Banner and they're keeping it secret until Comicon.

  • gnort

    As much as I'd prefer Norton stay as Banner, no one actor will ever maintain one role forever in regard to a comic character. Especially the more iconic ones. Christian Bale won't be Batman forever just as Tobey Maguire wouldn't hold the role of Spidey for very much longer either, he just turned 35 by the way. How funny would that have seemed in what could've been Spider-man 5 to have a 40 year old college student Peter Parker. ;D
    I just hope whoever plays Banner is good enough. I love the idea of Sharlto Copley in the role!

  • Sugarglid3r

    Yeah the best thing to do is leave the Hulk out now. He was only an Avenger for like four issues anyway, hardly what you'd call a “must have” character.

    If they go ahead and cast someone else, I don't think I will care to watch. In fact, the way this whole thing is shaping up as a major boondoggle, I don't think I will anyway. Too bad too, since there will only be one chance to do this and this is it.

  • Sugarglid3r

    Except that the real appeal of the Marvel characters is the human being behind the mask, cowl, armor or mutation. And without Bruce Banner you're left with a big green gorilla smashing things up with no context or drama.

    Stupid move, Marvel

  • Pcolossus

    I think Marvel just essentially flipped Norton the bird. This is surprising because they are usually much more diplomatitic in Hollywood. They might have cited “creative differences,” for instance. Norton really pissed someone off.

  • Marin

    Is it true that Josh Holloway will be Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye?

  • That lad

    stupid decision

  • paulski

    Shock and horror.

    No, not really. I could have told you this was never going to happen at least 2 years ago. Ed Norton as part of the Avengers ensemble cast? He wouldn't allow himself not to be the centre of attention.

  • McBar0321

    I vote for Steve Buscemi

  • Xerobull

    Complete BS. Norton nailed the role.

  • Sugarglid3r

    Yeah, cause it would be AWFUL to have one of the best actors of the generation be the center of attention in your movie…right?

  • http://twitter.com/fitnessphp Noel Blanco

    Yeah, I don't like this decision at all. I really loved Norton's take on Banner in “The Incredible Hulk”. I hope the new actor they get is really awesome as well.

    Hopefully The Avengers movie is still going to be incredibly awesome, though, especially since nothing like it has been done before.

    I don't agree with those that say that if Norton's out, then the Hulk should be out as well. The Avengers were teased rather well in that movie, and I really want to see where that's all going.

  • Jamesb3

    Edward Norton is infamous for his inability to work with other directors and studios, to the point that he is having trouble these days even getting jobs. I've no doubt that Norton made the Hulk bed that he now lies in…

  • Justin S.

    You have to be kidding me. You doubt Joss Whedon can make this a good film? The fact that you don't even know how to spell his name shows how little you actually know about what he had done. Go read the Astonishing X-Men or Fray and then tell me this is the wrong man to write a storyline for this. Joss knows comics which is why I believe this won't be an awful movie. And for saying “he can't do anything but a cult hit”. Dude, you called it a “hit”. Star Wars and Star Trek are cult hits too.

  • Adam

    Look, Serenity was mediocre. At best.

    If you can look past your own fanboy crush on the man, you'll see he really does not deserve the chance to direct this feature. I mean, since nothing like this has really ever been done (combining various film franchises into one), a LOT is riding on the outcome of The Avengers.

    If I were Marvel, I'd look hard for a competent and accomplished film director. Not a cult favorite whose fandom is comprised of a bunch of folks who liked watching cute teenagers fight vampires on a weekly basis.

  • Cultureprofit

    My problem with this announcement is that the movies have been marketed as semi-independent parts of a linear storyline. There've been three movie setting up the Avengers which have already established parts of the story. Ed Norton's Banner is definitely a part of that. If RDJ suddenly became “too expensive” or seen as not being a “team player” and was dropped, ticket sales would drop significantly. This whole thing reminds me of soap operas where new actors are brought in every few months.

  • Elementalcrazy

    Don't worry all they will screw the movie up and the legendary stories like they did with everything else. Spiderman, xmen, batman, elektra and the list goes on and on. Hollywood does not now how to keep things to the original story. Ed's gone so no need for the hulk, Nick Fury's black now. Please lets just keep our childhood stories they way they should be remembered. These movies will suck we all know this. F you Hollywood I could make a better movie