Now that they have officially announced that Edward Norton will be replaced as The Incredible Hulk in the upcoming film version of The Avengers, Marvel Studios is hoping to find his replacement by the time the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con rolls around at the end of next week.

One of the potential candidates to play scientist Bruce Banner / The Hulk in the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers film is rumored to be none other than two-time Oscar nominee and (to put it politely) eccentric performer, Joaquin Phoenix.

Marvel essentially confirmed that The Hulk will appear in the Avengers movie at the beginning of this year and held talks with Norton to have him reprise his role for several months.  Despite the actor’s claims that his return would depend on fanboy support, Marvel’s final decision was seemingly affected by their previous clash with Norton over the 2008 Incredible Hulk film.

The idea that Marvel would go with Phoenix is, at first glance, a curious one – especially after they accused Norton of not being “an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.” Phoenix does not have a reputation for being the “easy to get along with” type and his antics over the past year have left most people wondering if he’s even sane, or if his retirement from acting to pursue a rapping career was a bit of performance art that even Sacha Baron Cohen would envy.

Phoenix's infamous appearance with David Letterman.

Phoenix was previously best known for his solid turns in independent fare like To Die For and Buffalo Soldiers – not to mention his Academy Award-nominated performances in Gladiator and Walk the Line.  The possibility that he could become involved with a comic book movie franchise would certainly be welcomed by fans that have been hoping to see him return to his acting career.

The artist would also be a relatively cheap choice for Marvel, who reportedly wants a low-cost performer to fill the role of the Hulk in The Avengers.  Phoenix will undoubtedly be denied the same degree of creative input that Norton was allowed with The Incredible Hulk, so it seems unlikely that he could prove too disruptive to the production process – regardless of his attitude on set.

Joaquin Phoenix playing a character who can suddenly lose it and erupt in an epic freakout… Nah, too easy ;-). We’ll just say that he is fully capable of playing a smart yet deeply troubled character and leave it at that.

Ultimately we’ll get confirmation of who will be playing the Hulk in Avengers during Marvel’s 2010 Comic-Con panels, which will be held next week. Be sure to stay tuned to Screen Rant’s Official Comic-Con page for the latest.

You can always hear the latest developments by following us on Twitter: @screenrant

The Avengers will arrive in theaters on May 4th, 2012.

Source: CHUD