According to Hitfix‘s Marvel sources, the House That Stan Built is not going to ask Edward Norton to reprise his role as the Hulk for The Avengers, and will instead be casting an unknown in the role. This has confused many people who have been following Marvel’s ambitious project of injecting universe continuity into its movies, because, by all accounts, Norton was very interested in the role.
Update: Could the next Hulk be Joaquin Phoenix?
I sat down with Norton at SXSW this year, and one of the things we discussed was this exact scenario. At the time, he seemed to me to be interested in being part of “The Avengers” if the script and the director came together in an interesting way.
[Joss] Whedon‘s been meeting the cast, laying out his plans for the film, and so far everyone seems incredibly excited by what they’re hearing. One of the people who Whedon met with was Norton, and I’d love to know what they talked about. What I do know is that both Whedon and Norton reported their enthusiasm back to Marvel, and according to some calls I made today, it even sounds like Norton was making serious plans with his agency to keep his dates clear.
And then… nothing. Marvel made a decision to hire an unknown, and they informed Norton that they won’t be using him in the film. And that is evidently that.
It never pays to bet that a major movie studio is going to behave in a way that seems logical or even beneficial to outsiders and fans, but even for an unfathomable studio decision this seems particularly bad. Putting a newcomer in a movie with Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth… well, it would be kind of like putting Katie Holmes in a movie with Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman. The phrase “sore thumb” comes to mind. Big, green, sore thumb.
Hopefully the uncertainty here will be cleared up soon, at the very least for all the people who were gleefully anticipating seeing all those actors up there in skintight clothing.
No, I mean. Marvel’s big gamble on cross-movie continuity. Yeah.
UPDATE: Marvel has confirmed that Edward Norton is not being considered for the role, but that they will be casting a “name actor” and not an unknown.