Edward Norton says Marvel reneged on developing a darker Hulk film

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Hulk, Edward Norton, Marvel

Of the many films belonging to the MCU, director Louis Leterrier's THE INCREDIBLE HULK, starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, rarely ranks among the best of the best. In fact, even some of the most dedicated Marvel fans are prone to forgetting that the film even exists, and have to be reminded of the post-IRON MAN adventure. When the film failed to live up to the critical and box office success of IRON MAN, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT actor Mark Ruffalo replaced Norton as the "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" character, and was re-introduced via Joss Whedon's THE AVENGERS in 2012. Aspects of this move confused Norton, who for a time believed that Marvel was game to develop a more intense pair of Hulk films akin to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

Recently while being interviewed for a New York Times profile, Norton spoke to the outlet about his falling out with the Hulk, and how at one point the character's introduction could have been a two-part endeavor.

"I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip," Norton said. "And they were like, 'That’s what we want!' As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted."

Despite being confused by Marvel's efforts to bring Hulk in an entirely new direction, Norton explained that he'd had a "great time" while working on Leterrier's film, and that he got along quite nicely with Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige. However, Norton quickly became disillusioned with Marvel, after a 2010 statement from Feige announced that the FIGHT CLUB actor would no longer be participating in the making of Whedon's THE AVENGERS. Then, in a move that added insult to injury, Feige implied that working with Norton had proven to be a "difficult" process.

"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 castmembers," Feige's statement said.

"Yeah, which was cheap," Norton explained to the New York Times. "It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter."

Norton continued to vent, "We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would’ve taken, and I wasn’t going to do that. I honestly would’ve wanted more money than they’d have wanted to pay me. But that’s not why I would’ve wanted to do another Hulk movie anyway."

Not-so-veiled comments or no, Norton insists that there was no bad blood between himself and Feige when deciding what was best for the Hulk.

"I’m saying that Kevin had an idea of a thing that you could do, and it was remarkable," he said. "Now it didn’t happen to be on a tonal, thematic level what I wanted to spend my time doing."

In the end, I think it was for the best that Norton moved on from the character, and that Ruffalo decided to wear the purple pants. The last thing that anyone wants is for someone to portray a character without passion, and it doesn't sound as if Feige's plans for the Hulk would have meshed with Norton's intended vision of the smash-happy superhero.

What do you think of Norton's take on the Hulk? Would you have liked to see his "gritty" take on Bruce Banner's next adventure? Or do you stan Mark Ruffalo as the one-and-only, wickedly-powerful world-breaker? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.