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Is Joaquin Phoenix taking over for Ed Norton as The Hulk?

Jul. 12, 2010by: Mike Sampson

I'm sure by now you've read all about the somewhat shocking tiff between Marvel Studios and Edward Norton that resulted in the latter being dropped from THE AVENGERS. While it all went public over the weekend, most of the drama played out last week and it seems that in the time since, Marvel has already come up with a few solid candidates. Leading the pack would be someone I don't think I ever saw coming.

CHUD is reporting that Marvel has an offer out to Joaquin Phoenix to star as Bruce Banner in THE AVENGERS. There's no word yet on whether Phoenix would accept this offer but if he'd at all like to get that strange mockumentary, retiring from acting, scraggly beard, terrible rapping stage behind him, I'd sign that contract in blood. It'd be a fantastic move for Phoenix who, after a pretty solid post-GLADIATOR career, went off the rails for a few years (whether his behavior was a stunt or not remains to be seen, I suppose).

But just because it's a good career move for Phoenix, does it mean it's a good move for the film? Frankly I thought Norton made a great Banner and it's a shame Marvel can't put aside their differences for the film. But I don't know that I see Phoenix as Bruce Banner. And if their idea is to later *again* reboot The Hulk with another feature film, I like the move even less.

The trouble seems to be that Marvel would really like to have the entire AVENGERS cast on hand at Comic-Con (Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth would already be there and they want to bring out Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johannson and Samuel L. Jackson as well). This was supposed to be a big surprise but all these casting arguments have let the cat out of the bag. While it'd be nice to have the AVENGERS cast at Comic-Con, it'd also be nice to have a cast the Hall H-ers are excited about. Take your time Marvel...

Extra Tidbit: Somewhat strange that Marvel parted ways with Norton because he was a tough guy to work with. By all accounts, Phoenix isn't exactly a dream...
Source: CHUD

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-1
4:23PM on 07/13/2010

No one has mentioned the obvious choice...

Micheal Cera. He has the acting chops to really nail Banner, and he'd lend some serious star power to the movie.
Micheal Cera. He has the acting chops to really nail Banner, and he'd lend some serious star power to the movie.
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+0
2:30PM on 07/13/2010
Bring Back Eric BANA....he was the best looking HULK!!!
Bring Back Eric BANA....he was the best looking HULK!!!
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7:44AM on 07/13/2010

Let's drop...

Norton, he sucked in The incredible Hulk (that movie sucked too). Bring back fuckin' Eric "Chopper" Bana!!!!! And drop Lyv Tyler too, she sucked too (no sexual joke there).
Norton, he sucked in The incredible Hulk (that movie sucked too). Bring back fuckin' Eric "Chopper" Bana!!!!! And drop Lyv Tyler too, she sucked too (no sexual joke there).
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+0
7:19AM on 07/13/2010
Great choice but don't think Phoenix accept...
Great choice but don't think Phoenix accept...
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5:19AM on 07/13/2010

Um

Are Marvel insane? Employing this nut bar is just asking for trouble! Don't get me wrong, Phoenix is a great actor but he needs to get his head straight before walking back onto a set. I don't want anything to ruin the Avengers movie! Get on the phone to David Tennant instead!
Are Marvel insane? Employing this nut bar is just asking for trouble! Don't get me wrong, Phoenix is a great actor but he needs to get his head straight before walking back onto a set. I don't want anything to ruin the Avengers movie! Get on the phone to David Tennant instead!
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1:34AM on 07/13/2010
i don't dislike phoenix, but he just isn't quite who i'd like to see replace norton. why not cast someone who is talented, but can still easily emulate norton to make the transition really smooth? i may get blasted for it, but i suggest timothy olyphant for that.
i don't dislike phoenix, but he just isn't quite who i'd like to see replace norton. why not cast someone who is talented, but can still easily emulate norton to make the transition really smooth? i may get blasted for it, but i suggest timothy olyphant for that.
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10:59PM on 07/12/2010

Noooo!!!!!

Is there a "My favorite actor replaced by my least favorite actor" option here? what the ****!!?!
Is there a "My favorite actor replaced by my least favorite actor" option here? what the ****!!?!
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+0
8:57PM on 07/12/2010

And no matter how much we bitch

We aren't getting Norton back so stop asking for it!!!!!!!
We aren't getting Norton back so stop asking for it!!!!!!!
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+2
8:56PM on 07/12/2010
I love both Edward Norton and Joaquin Phoenix and I'm very disappointed that Edward won't be returning to play the role. Especially since I loved the Incredible Hulk and hated the crappy Hulk. While I love Phoenix as an actor and would like to see him return to film, I don't think this is right for him. I cannot picture him in the role
I love both Edward Norton and Joaquin Phoenix and I'm very disappointed that Edward won't be returning to play the role. Especially since I loved the Incredible Hulk and hated the crappy Hulk. While I love Phoenix as an actor and would like to see him return to film, I don't think this is right for him. I cannot picture him in the role
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8:47PM on 07/12/2010
no. he's a good actor, but i don't want johnny cash playin' the hulk.
no. he's a good actor, but i don't want johnny cash playin' the hulk.
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7:28PM on 07/12/2010
Um no.
I'm unsure on the whole Avengers project. I feel like a 2 hour movie with all of these characters squeezed in is just going to be a let down.
Um no.
I'm unsure on the whole Avengers project. I feel like a 2 hour movie with all of these characters squeezed in is just going to be a let down.
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-4
5:39PM on 07/12/2010
This is so insane that it just might work. Joaquin could use a blockbuster about now, I've been a fan since I saw him in Gladiator.
This is so insane that it just might work. Joaquin could use a blockbuster about now, I've been a fan since I saw him in Gladiator.
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4:26PM on 07/12/2010

All I know is...

They need to pick a damn Hulk and stay with him.
They need to pick a damn Hulk and stay with him.
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-6
4:21PM on 07/12/2010
I think Joaquin has what it takes. I wouldn't even mind another Hulk film, either. Perhaps this time it would have plot, characters, personality, and style.
I think Joaquin has what it takes. I wouldn't even mind another Hulk film, either. Perhaps this time it would have plot, characters, personality, and style.
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+8
3:47PM on 07/12/2010
What a load of shit! Marvel dropped the ball on this. They should have done whatever was needed to get Ed Norton on board.
What a load of shit! Marvel dropped the ball on this. They should have done whatever was needed to get Ed Norton on board.
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-3
3:44PM on 07/12/2010

I like Edward Norton too

but if he wants the type of control he seems to always harp about during filming he needs to just become a director.
but if he wants the type of control he seems to always harp about during filming he needs to just become a director.
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2:45PM on 07/12/2010

Obviously

Wy is everyone so surprised that Ed Norton isn't coming back for Avengers? He openly came put down "The Incredible Hulk" He was pissed that he wasn't given writing credit after he claimed he had rewritten the whole script and supposedly they changed the whole ending against his wishes. He refused to do any press promotion for the film which Marvel then blamed him for causing the film to not be a monster box office smash hit. In all likely hood Ed Norton is the one refusing to reprise his role
Wy is everyone so surprised that Ed Norton isn't coming back for Avengers? He openly came put down "The Incredible Hulk" He was pissed that he wasn't given writing credit after he claimed he had rewritten the whole script and supposedly they changed the whole ending against his wishes. He refused to do any press promotion for the film which Marvel then blamed him for causing the film to not be a monster box office smash hit. In all likely hood Ed Norton is the one refusing to reprise his role not the other way around.
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2:15PM on 07/12/2010

if not Ed Norton cast an unknown...

if Ed Norton can't be cast ,the choice would be to cast an unknown or partially known actor.you don't want to get another big name actor in because it would make things really tense,and in the end we are left with a bad product.make the right choice with this casting and maybe,just maybe you will get it right.
if Ed Norton can't be cast ,the choice would be to cast an unknown or partially known actor.you don't want to get another big name actor in because it would make things really tense,and in the end we are left with a bad product.make the right choice with this casting and maybe,just maybe you will get it right.
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1:34PM on 07/12/2010

I love Norton...

But it is pretty well known that he is amazingly hard to work with, demanding way more creative control than any actor should be given. Actors are their to make the directors vision a reality not the other way around.
The publicized problem Norton had with Marvel (I'm sure it ran deeper than we were told) was that he wasn't given final cut authority... He was cast in the role, made a producer, rewrote the script and that still wasn't enough for him.
I love him as an actor as he is extremely
But it is pretty well known that he is amazingly hard to work with, demanding way more creative control than any actor should be given. Actors are their to make the directors vision a reality not the other way around.
The publicized problem Norton had with Marvel (I'm sure it ran deeper than we were told) was that he wasn't given final cut authority... He was cast in the role, made a producer, rewrote the script and that still wasn't enough for him.
I love him as an actor as he is extremely intelligent and his egomania is well deserved - off set - on set he needs to do HIS job, not everybody elses.
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1:27PM on 07/12/2010
This is such crap and would be a horrible casting choice (i.e. Topher, Cage = Venom, Ghost Rider). It's amazing how Marvel thinks they're doing the right thing by re-casting yet again and thinking they're making the better choice by replacing Ed Norton with Phoenix. Phoenix is a good actor, but Norton IS Banner and did a really great job with The Incredible Hulk. I also hate how they're rushing this crap and not taking their time just because of Comic-Con. The connections to these movies is
This is such crap and would be a horrible casting choice (i.e. Topher, Cage = Venom, Ghost Rider). It's amazing how Marvel thinks they're doing the right thing by re-casting yet again and thinking they're making the better choice by replacing Ed Norton with Phoenix. Phoenix is a good actor, but Norton IS Banner and did a really great job with The Incredible Hulk. I also hate how they're rushing this crap and not taking their time just because of Comic-Con. The connections to these movies is bullshit, if they're not keeping the same actors. What's the point? If Marvel were smart (which it isn't), then they would do anything they can to get Norton back. Losing him had dropped my interest in this movie by alot.
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+4
1:21PM on 07/12/2010
Hulk rap during the end credits....
Hulk rap during the end credits....
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1:23PM on 07/12/2010
now that's funny
now that's funny
+4
1:16PM on 07/12/2010
wtf?? edward norton is a hell of a good actor and i don't understand why they would cast another actor to play for the role. this is BS. WE WANT NORTON!
wtf?? edward norton is a hell of a good actor and i don't understand why they would cast another actor to play for the role. this is BS. WE WANT NORTON!
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1:12PM on 07/12/2010

Oh, and Rob Downey's such a charm, isn't he?

Look, I like Rob Downey as an actor, but lets be honest about this...the only thing that keeps that man from being an a-hole is the fact that he's Iron Man. Go tell him to play Ant-Man or something like that and he'd flip the finger in Kevin Feige's face faster than Feige could finish his sentence. Marvel's reasons for dropping Norton are stupid and immature, not to mention they've just lost their second biggest marketing pull next to Downey himself. Evans isn't really a bona fied moneymaker
Look, I like Rob Downey as an actor, but lets be honest about this...the only thing that keeps that man from being an a-hole is the fact that he's Iron Man. Go tell him to play Ant-Man or something like that and he'd flip the finger in Kevin Feige's face faster than Feige could finish his sentence. Marvel's reasons for dropping Norton are stupid and immature, not to mention they've just lost their second biggest marketing pull next to Downey himself. Evans isn't really a bona fied moneymaker and Hemsworth...lets not even go there. He's good, but he's no marquee name. So, way to go Marvel. Lets get Phoenix on board so tensions can rise and people can get angry at each other. In the end, we're the victims because we'll end up with a shitty result. And no, I don't think 'money' is a good reason to drop Ed Norton. Pay the man for Christ's sake...your studios are owned by effin' Disney. Those guys blew 300mil on Prince Of Persia.

*end of rant*
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2:32PM on 07/12/2010
Sorry, but...uh...what are you talking about? Why are we discussing a wild scenario of RDJ switching roles? If you're talking about the character quality or popularity (Stark vs. Banner), then that's just the luck of the draw, friend. Also, people keep trying to lump Norton's past roles in with this Hulk casting, as if we are "victims" for having lost his amazing talent. News flash -- he wasn't anything special in Hulk. Your comparison with Iron Man brings to light that RDJ is content
Sorry, but...uh...what are you talking about? Why are we discussing a wild scenario of RDJ switching roles? If you're talking about the character quality or popularity (Stark vs. Banner), then that's just the luck of the draw, friend. Also, people keep trying to lump Norton's past roles in with this Hulk casting, as if we are "victims" for having lost his amazing talent. News flash -- he wasn't anything special in Hulk. Your comparison with Iron Man brings to light that RDJ is content (ecstatic, more likely) with Stark, probably because he's actually an interesting and fun character. Perhaps the source of contentions is that Norton wanted to do a big blockbuster but was very limited by the dull character of Banner. I agree Norton is a great actor in some stuff, and I'd go as far as to say he he's had better, deeper, and more lasting roles than RDJ. But for the Marvel universe? RDJ brought the A-game to the table and gave us an enormously entertaining and refreshing, yet flawed character. Like it or not, Banner was no Stark.

On marketability, I'd take issue with your assumptions. Norton's best film was The Incredible Hulk, but I don't think it was him most people were going to see. It's "Hulk," a superhero movie about a pretty popular superhero. Of course it's going to make money -- though it was seen as kind of a dud when it couldn't make back its own budget domestically. Again, I think the limited and shallow character of Banner was a factor in the film's sort of limp reception. It's easy to say TIH was better than the first, but I just didn't find it all that special. Norton may be a well-known actor with some memorable roles, but he's not a cash guarantee.

So in terms of Avengers marketing, you're saying that NOW Evans and Hemsworth aren't big. I'd agree. But what about after THEIR films come out? They're going to be fucking huge, regardless of the quality of their films. They're young, chiseled hunks that girls will want to get with and that guys will want to be. I'd say they'd be pretty marketable (if not more so than Norton) come Avengers time. I'm sure each of them will get some big-time roles in between, as well (Hemsworth is leading Red Dawn, I believe). Norton's not too hot a commodity now. I'd put ScarJo and maybe even Sam Jackson before him, to be honest.

And I don't think money is the issue, though throwing seven figures at a guy whose CGI alter ego will probably get 80% of the screen time is a bit of a stretch. It's the assumption that Norton won't be a team player that seems to be at the core of this battle. I'm guessing he's trying to compensate for his lack of character in its previous incarnation -- both the depth of Banner himself and the level the CGI Hulk will take over. All of this in light of the inherently ensembled Avengers, where characterization will be challenged.
4:48AM on 07/13/2010
Outsider, maybe I got off on a wrong foot and sounded like a one-man angry mob. What I meant to say was, deeming Norton as an 'anti-team player' is not a good reason to drop him from the movie. I didn't switch RDJ's roles, I just said that not everyone's as charming as they seem behind the scenes. RDJ could be an awesome guy, sure, but if The Avengers turns out to be like Transformers 2 in terms of quality, I'm sure even someone as ecstatic about his role as RDJ would begin to consider
Outsider, maybe I got off on a wrong foot and sounded like a one-man angry mob. What I meant to say was, deeming Norton as an 'anti-team player' is not a good reason to drop him from the movie. I didn't switch RDJ's roles, I just said that not everyone's as charming as they seem behind the scenes. RDJ could be an awesome guy, sure, but if The Avengers turns out to be like Transformers 2 in terms of quality, I'm sure even someone as ecstatic about his role as RDJ would begin to consider returning. Incredible Hulk wasn't special in terms of Norton's acting, but whatever it is, we're the ones who have to put up with all this continuity issues and having to pretend like someone besides Norton was Banner all along. It's annoying, really. Norton may not be the best of the best but he brings a certain quality to his movies and I liked that. I wanted to see what kind of chemistry his character would have against / with Tony Stark and crew. My point is...Marvel's beef with Norton is unjustified. Their reasons are silly and personal. In the end, the fans lose.
1:08PM on 07/12/2010
WTF, man! why do they like to do a change & change & change all the time? i'm realli bored with new guys new guys & new guys..EDWARD NOTRTON IS THE PERFECT BRUCE BANNER!!! GET HIM BACK!!!
WTF, man! why do they like to do a change & change & change all the time? i'm realli bored with new guys new guys & new guys..EDWARD NOTRTON IS THE PERFECT BRUCE BANNER!!! GET HIM BACK!!!
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+1
12:59PM on 07/12/2010
GOD NO!
GOD NO!
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12:57PM on 07/12/2010

Horrible

Phoenix can't be the Hulk. Doesn't look right, not the right personality. Norton was perfect. Skinny, weak looking. Horrible idea
Phoenix can't be the Hulk. Doesn't look right, not the right personality. Norton was perfect. Skinny, weak looking. Horrible idea
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+3
12:53PM on 07/12/2010

Find Norton

Please just find what you need to bring Norton back... Bana was already a loss, I don't really feel up to losing Norton either... But I guess Joaquin would be a suitable substitute if you can detach him from his mic and grill...
Please just find what you need to bring Norton back... Bana was already a loss, I don't really feel up to losing Norton either... But I guess Joaquin would be a suitable substitute if you can detach him from his mic and grill...
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12:42PM on 07/12/2010

Marvels Primal Fear

Seriously? You are getting rid of Norton? The HULK was a fun film. From what I read Ed Norton signed on to really do a character study of Bruce Banner he wanted an emotional character much like Bill Bixbys Hulk tv series. He wanted the pain and sorrow of the HULK. Marvel says ok but then in post they make Louis Lettier cut the damn thing like a summer action flick. Its weird the HULK is a sad character they just needed to find a balance....they should be bringing Norton back! I hate
Seriously? You are getting rid of Norton? The HULK was a fun film. From what I read Ed Norton signed on to really do a character study of Bruce Banner he wanted an emotional character much like Bill Bixbys Hulk tv series. He wanted the pain and sorrow of the HULK. Marvel says ok but then in post they make Louis Lettier cut the damn thing like a summer action flick. Its weird the HULK is a sad character they just needed to find a balance....they should be bringing Norton back! I hate actor changes in the sequel is makes so sense.....I can't get into it....
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12:18PM on 07/12/2010

WOW

You have got to be kidding me
You have got to be kidding me
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12:15PM on 07/12/2010
The white rapper thing was just a gag, man.
The white rapper thing was just a gag, man.
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-1
12:10PM on 07/12/2010

NO

he doesnt deserve this, yuo cant just go and crap on your entire profession, piss it all away, while others will strive to be that sucessful the rest of their lives. Cant trust him, one call from Eminem and he might just quit your movie and then dress like the unibomber. Besides we dont need monotone, stoned faced actors anymore.
he doesnt deserve this, yuo cant just go and crap on your entire profession, piss it all away, while others will strive to be that sucessful the rest of their lives. Cant trust him, one call from Eminem and he might just quit your movie and then dress like the unibomber. Besides we dont need monotone, stoned faced actors anymore.
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+2
11:56AM on 07/12/2010

Get Phoenix

I would have loved to see Downey and Norton bantering as superheroes. But I think Phoenix could work even better as an Ultimate kind of Banner, more of a creepy unhinged genius. I think that would make Avengers a lot more interesting.
I would have loved to see Downey and Norton bantering as superheroes. But I think Phoenix could work even better as an Ultimate kind of Banner, more of a creepy unhinged genius. I think that would make Avengers a lot more interesting.
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11:40AM on 07/12/2010
As long as we get a great script with a great movie I could give a shit now who they get to play Banner.
As long as we get a great script with a great movie I could give a shit now who they get to play Banner.
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+7
11:21AM on 07/12/2010

Kevin Feige shot himself in the foot

There was nothing wrong with Norton playing Bruce Banner. He was great in that role. Kevin Feige is a douchebag for doing something like this.

"but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members"

He just pointed out two qualities that Norton has.

I thought what happened to Terrence Howard was only a one-time occurence, but holy shit... Marvel Studios has become a crumbling house of cards. What the hell is
There was nothing wrong with Norton playing Bruce Banner. He was great in that role. Kevin Feige is a douchebag for doing something like this.

"but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members"

He just pointed out two qualities that Norton has.

I thought what happened to Terrence Howard was only a one-time occurence, but holy shit... Marvel Studios has become a crumbling house of cards. What the hell is going on...
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10:51AM on 07/12/2010

Don't believe it...

Didn't they say they were going to cast an unknown?? I like that idea better than casting JP...

I wonder if Iron Man will tell JP Hulk to "Swing Away"
Didn't they say they were going to cast an unknown?? I like that idea better than casting JP...

I wonder if Iron Man will tell JP Hulk to "Swing Away"
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10:30AM on 07/12/2010
This sounds perfect to me.
This sounds perfect to me.
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10:20AM on 07/12/2010

the thing that's baothering me

Is that this seems very driven towards making a shock-and-awe carpet bombing at the comic-con panel. I get that Marvel is really just pandering to the almighty dollar - its hollywood, and all - but for them to be this transparent and artless about it so early on doesn't bod well for the project. This is the kind of news that gives me more indigestion than the shape of Captain America's cowl.
Is that this seems very driven towards making a shock-and-awe carpet bombing at the comic-con panel. I get that Marvel is really just pandering to the almighty dollar - its hollywood, and all - but for them to be this transparent and artless about it so early on doesn't bod well for the project. This is the kind of news that gives me more indigestion than the shape of Captain America's cowl.
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10:13AM on 07/12/2010
Great actor but no. I cant even imagine it
Great actor but no. I cant even imagine it
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+6
10:10AM on 07/12/2010
I like Phoenix, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Norton being fired.
I like Phoenix, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Norton being fired.
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10:05AM on 07/12/2010
I like Ed Norton, but if they're gonna recast Bruce Banner, there's only one man for the job:
Steve Buscemi.
I like Ed Norton, but if they're gonna recast Bruce Banner, there's only one man for the job:
Steve Buscemi.
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+1
9:50AM on 07/12/2010
I love Phoenix, he adds good stuff to any movie, so go ahead and cast 'em! ..if he's done playing nuts!
I love Phoenix, he adds good stuff to any movie, so go ahead and cast 'em! ..if he's done playing nuts!
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9:36AM on 07/12/2010
one thing i have learn't from Marvel casting is we are going to here a lot more before the role is cast.
one thing i have learn't from Marvel casting is we are going to here a lot more before the role is cast.
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9:23AM on 07/12/2010

I guess. Why not?

I wonder who will play Banner in the third Hulk movie. And in the second Avengers. We can't have the same actor play him twice, can we?
I wonder who will play Banner in the third Hulk movie. And in the second Avengers. We can't have the same actor play him twice, can we?
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9:19AM on 07/12/2010
Assembling such estelar cast is a tough job...keeping it together is even tougher. I trust Marvel in keeping things at a good pace. as for the Phoenix taking over article, well...can't say I'm excited. I really liked Norton's Bruce Banner. We'll see.
Assembling such estelar cast is a tough job...keeping it together is even tougher. I trust Marvel in keeping things at a good pace. as for the Phoenix taking over article, well...can't say I'm excited. I really liked Norton's Bruce Banner. We'll see.
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9:17AM on 07/12/2010
I don't think Norton is indispensable. I think Phoenix would do fine as Banner, if he would do it. I think they should get a "lesser" named actor so this movie doesn't become too crowded.
I don't think Norton is indispensable. I think Phoenix would do fine as Banner, if he would do it. I think they should get a "lesser" named actor so this movie doesn't become too crowded.
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9:13AM on 07/12/2010
He has the crazy eyes, it could work. Phoenix is a strong actor for sure, and I'm still curious if Hulk will be a villain as they claim. I'd love to see a new interpretation of Bruce Banner after Norton's shockingly mediocre portrayal. I hope Phoenix considers it.

Do I sense a new "Cast This" column? Nah, forget I said anything it will just be ninety replies of "Ed Norton!" "No one but Ed Norton!"
He has the crazy eyes, it could work. Phoenix is a strong actor for sure, and I'm still curious if Hulk will be a villain as they claim. I'd love to see a new interpretation of Bruce Banner after Norton's shockingly mediocre portrayal. I hope Phoenix considers it.

Do I sense a new "Cast This" column? Nah, forget I said anything it will just be ninety replies of "Ed Norton!" "No one but Ed Norton!"
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