It’s Official: Marvel To Replace Edward Norton in ‘The Avengers’

Published 5 years ago by , Updated May 23rd, 2013 at 7:51 am,

iron man 2 edward norton bruce banner Its Official: Marvel To Replace Edward Norton in The Avengers

[UPDATE: Marvel Studios is officially recasting the Hulk for The Avengers movie – Edward Norton is out. Check out the end of the article for details.]

Since its inception, Marvel Studios has deliberately and carefully been building towards a unique and ambitious cinematic event- The Avengers. From the very first tease offered in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, fans have been salivating over the idea and watching with cautious optimism as piece after piece falls into place.

The Avengers was always going to be a challenging project for creative and logistical reasons but the glue holding it together was the excitement of seeing not only the iconic characters on screen together, but also the familiar faces of the actors we’ve come to associate with them — which makes this latest development appear to be the first major misstep Marvel has made with the project.

Evidently, when The Avengers assemble on May 4th, 2012 – it  will be without Edward Norton as the Hulk. According to HitFix:

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’s widely known that Norton has had something of a troubled past with the studio but this decision wasn’t made because he declined to be a part of the film. In fact, Norton wanted to play Bruce Banner again. He even recently met with Avengers director Joss Whedon and was reportedly so excited by what he heard that he told his agency to keep his schedule open.

Prior to that meeting, his only stipulation was that The Avengers had to push the Banner character forward in some way. Norton may have a reputation for being difficult to work with but in the case of The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers it’s important to remember that what he was fighting for was his character and the story.  He’s a huge fan of the comics and this stuff matters to him and he knows it matters to fans.

AVENGERS header Its Official: Marvel To Replace Edward Norton in The Avengers

Passion is only part of the equation unfortunately- there’s also the financial aspect of this situation. We know Marvel initially low-balled Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson for their involvement in Iron Man 2 and with a project as immense and intimidating as The Avengers, they’re no doubt looking to cut costs wherever they can.

While details of how exactly the negotiations between Marvel and Norton fell apart are unclear, I can’t help but wonder if the studio felt the actor might just be more trouble than he’s worth.

Norton’s performance was hands down my favorite part of The Incredible Hulk so this news is particularly troubling to me. There’s just absolutely no way I can see an unknown actor bringing the same weight and authority to that role. I understand the pressure to control costs, but the true value of this property is not in its budget or box-office gross- it’s the innovative execution of something that’s never been attempted before. As the HitFix article so perfectly sums it up:

“Avengers assemble” is more than just a nifty slogan for a ball cap.  It’s a call to arms for a one-of-a-kind movie event.  Please… treat it that way.  The rewards will be worth the effort.


It’s official, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige has released an official statement – confirming the studio is in fact ditching Norton and recasting a more “collaborative” Hulk-worthy actor for The Avengers:

“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.”


Norton himself has responded to Marvel’s announcement with this note on his Facebook Page:

ed norton statement hulk Its Official: Marvel To Replace Edward Norton in The Avengers

How do you feel about The Avengers minus Edward Norton? Is this a big mistake on Marvel’s part or do you think it’s possible that an unknown can deliver in the role?

I guess this goes against the rumored plans to have Norton appear on stage as part of the Marvel presentation at San Diego Comic-Con.

Source: HitFix

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  1. Clearly, after reading the article, it sends mixed messages. What it comes down to is that Norton probably asked for a little more depth in Hulk’s character, rather than just being CGI for this movies. The only other talents that would argue this would have been Downey/Ironman or Thor. But if Norton asked and got this would mean the others might ask for more and change moral on set.

    Norton, was probably difficult because he is thorough and takes his roles seriously, which is why he is consistant on his roles and does a good job adding depth and really portraying his characters on screen.

    Norton should have been casted, they even did previews with him in it as Hulk. Mark Garufalo, doesn’t seem to be the natural choice for the role.

    • Just saw The Avengers. Fantastic movie. But one of the KEY components to The Avengers is the Hulk’s role. Among so many excellent scenes, the Hulk’s scenes were my favorite and carried the Joss Whedon humor stamp. Which drove me to find out why Edward Norton didn’t reprise his role as Bruce Banner. I regret that Marvel didn’t choose Edward Norton because the Hulk’s role was so valuable in the movie and Norton’s gifted acting would only have added depth and value to a truly great movie. Mark Ruffalo did well…but Edward Norton would have done better.

      • I completely agree. I feel the character was played well enough by Mark Ruffalo, however, Edward Norton brought the sense of Banner being more of an outcast. The Hulk in The Avengers movie was more of a comic relief than an evolving character, whether that was the intention of the directors or not. I would like to have seen a character that seemed more dimensional, something that I seen in the first Hulk movie. One of my favorite things about the Avengers movie is that all of the characters stayed true to their original personalities and behaviors, except for the Hulk. Not just due to the actor, but the whole vibe you received from his personality in the Hulk movie. I still loved the movie, but it would have been that much better with a more dimensional Hulk, who was a very big piece of the Avengers’ puzzle.

        • I’d agree as well. The Hulk character, in my opinion, expanded much more than was originally shown in the first two movies. They expanded on him as a hero and as an integral part of the Avengers, instead of the standard ‘brain-dead, smashing’ variety portrayed in a majority of other movies/media. It’s too bad that they couldn’t get Norton to continue the work. But, on that note, I do think that Ruffalo did a good job at filling the role.

          • I think that Mark Ruffalo made for an excellent Hulk, both in Human and in Hulk, I think this role called for a more ‘mature’ Hulk, instead of depth they needed to portray the fact that Bruce was still scared of hurting people and losing control, but also that he has a better mind set for controlling the Hulk’s power, as seen in the last scenes of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ movie. Ruffalo pulled this off perfectly in my opinion, and I’m sure while Norton is probably better at giving a convincing back-story for the Hulk’s character, that wasn’t what this role called for.

    • I really thought that losing Ed Norton would be a huge blow to the movie, but his replacement rocked!

      And it’s Janeane GAROFALO and Mark RUFFALO. I think you had the two confused, ha ha :)

    • You’re not a professional sense-maker.

      • That made me laugh out loud. Literally.

  2. Is going to suck ass!!! Edward norton is irreplaceable, he did such a good job being the hulk, the I don’t see no one else wortly of the role =(

    • How does crow taste?

  3. I don’t even know the way I finished up here, but I believed this post was good. I do not know who you’re but definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger when you aren’t already. Cheers!

  4. Disappointed, VERY DISAPPOINTED, Norton won’t be playing the Hulk in the Avengers. Will the Avengers be a good movie? Probably. But it won’t be the same without Norton. First thing my kids noticed watching the Avg. preview trailer, “Where’s Bannerman? Hey, that’s not the same guy?”

    Dumb, dumb, dumb on Marvel’s part, imho of course. I’m just a fan.

  5. Please take it back Marvel.

  6. Edward Norton is one of the best actors of our time, and his portrayal of the Hulk reflects as such. We spent the enire length of the trailer asking “where’s he at?” Marvel should have been able to work it out…what kind of leadership do they have over there? Obviously keeping the same actors was important to the vision…and to the fans. So sad…we probably wont bother seeing this at the theatre…

    • Well, looking at box office revenues now, it doesn’t look like Marvel missed your business.

  7. I was looking forward to the follow up movie after seeing the teaser at the end of “The Incredible Hulk”. Now I am very disappointed to hear that Edward Norton is not cast in the return role. I was looking forward to seeing him with Robert Downing Jr who was excellant as the Iron Man. Norton is a brilliant actor and his comment posted above shows he has class and integrity. I do not plan to see “The Avengers” now. I think Mark Ruffalo is very gifted and enjoy his work but it is not the same after seeing a character brought to life so perfectly as Mr Norton did and now switch that character-no offense to Mr Ruffalo. No matter how much special effects, you have to have heart in a movie or it doesn’t work.

    • I think we can agree at this point that if there’s one thing the movie DIDN’T lack, it’s heart. Yeah Ruffalo was funnier than Norton, I agree Norton is a better actor than Ruffalo, but the issue is in their portrayals. In the long run, MR is the man who will be more like the original Banner, and more in line with the Bill Bixby version of the character. On top of that, the Hulk himself was (in my opinion) GREATLY improved from his run in The Incredible Hulk. The change in character wasn’t ideal, but in the long run it will suit the character of Bruce Banner better. I still think Edward Norton is a better actor, but he wasn’t as true to Banner the character.

  8. man that suck balls the incredible hulk was a great movie i cant believe they changed the actors he played a good hulk the best yet even better then the hulk movie before it but it is disappointing im sure it will still be a good movie but not as good as it could have been ill probably wait to see it in red box tho not as excited with with the people changed but the spider man movie looks good even tho there changing the people im sure that will be good

  9. I was looking forward to Ed coming back as Hulk because he created his own character for this role and awaited to play the character in Avengers. It’s no use complaining now it has happened.
    I don’t mind Mark R – he is an excellent actor and seems to understand the depth of Hulk’s human and montrous side. For that I am grateful they chose someone just as good as Ed :)

  10. A bad move Marvel :(

  11. Just saw the Avengers and wow, it was amazing!
    As for the Hulk, I couldn’t stand the intro movie but loved him in this film. So obviously Marvel knew what they were doing when they got rid of Norton!

  12. Marvel should understand that the character of Hulk requires a lot of screen play as he is one of the best kept characters and should really have kept him in focus in the Avengers. Edward Norton has done true justice to the character and role when he played Incredible Hulk. Marvel should have got Edward Norton at all costs regardless. Fans know Hulk is the most famous character. Marvel needs to accept this and give what fans want. The story is key to the Avengers but to lose Edward Norton as Hulk in this SAGA is the only magic missing. No dis respect to Mark. Edward Norton would have easily made Avengers best Marvel movie ever…… What a shame…

  13. I’m planning on watching the Avengers movie, but since I was so satisfied, no, amazed by Edward Norton’s portrayal I don’t think I could fully appreciate Avengers wothout his Hulk. He’s always been one of my fav actors. What a shame, Marvel:(

  14. I’m planning on watching the Avengers movie, but since I was so satisfied, no, amazed by Edward Norton’s portrayal I don’t think I could fully appreciate Avengers without his Hulk. He’s always been one of my fav actors. What a shame, Marvel:(

    • Wonder Woman is the Justice League, bro.

  15. I think it was a mistake on the directors part not casting Edward again I think he took the role of Bruce to where it should have been. The actor who plays Bruce now is a great actor, but when you switch actors in a franchise it kills it for most people.

  16. i was really wanted to see Edward Norton in this movie… i was looking for him during the whole preview trailer… he’s a great actor and did a awesome job playing as the Hulk… what a shame… movie wont be complete for me without him in it.

  17. I believe that minus norton the other cast will carry the movie. How ever i believe that no one else can embody banner as well as norton. And for this reason i wont be spending my money. I will wait for it at home. The statement released was just another way of saying we dont care about the hulk but look we have other good heros to focus on. Big mistake on the studio part. No one especially a no name actor could give hulk what norton did.

  18. That was the most exciting part for me. I was really upset when I found out they did it without norton. He is one of my favorite actors. I had bought tickets already, but if I hadn’t, I would not have seen the movie at all. For shame, Marvel. Norton can’t be anhy more difficult to work with than downey. Not only that, but Mark Ruffalo? He’s lame.

  19. lol wtf are you guy’s smoking? This article is 2 year’s old lmao, Norton was a b**** to work with. No thank’s on diva actors, mark’s portrayal murdered norton’s portrayal, because mark’s was exactly like hulk is in the comics, nortan was all about emotion and b.s pretty stupid, anyway marvel great job the avenger’s was epicness :)

  20. people seriously get off Nortons D*ck
    you all know you went to see the movie and loved it
    shut up nerds its just a movie somebody will grow up tobe an actor and replace that guy MOVE ON

  21. After seeing the Avengers all I can say is “Norton who?”
    Mark Ruffalo was perfect for the Hulk role. So all of you who were negative about Norton not being in the movie were proven wrong.

    • Agree completely Watergirl. Have now seen the movie twice and was completely blown away by mark’s portrayal of the Hulk. I originally was very upset that EN would not be reprising his role but after seeing the movie and I can understand why he would not have been right. This Hulk is exactly like he is in the comic books. Wonderful blend of humanity and smash!! The Hulk was NOT the main character in Avenger comic books. He was part of a team and the studio have made it very clear that it is exactly that. Not a single actor was put above another. Great movie, great fun and I am hoping that there is a sequel – after the end credits … fingers crossed.

  22. I, too, was disappointed that Mr. Norton was not a member of the Avengers cast, found Mr. Ruffalo to be a actor more than worthy of the role, and immensely enjoyed the movie itself. All of the cast received some play, with story advancements of their own. I could even see the “Wheatonesque” influence in characterization and story style I’ve come to greatly admire coming of Joss Wheaton.

    I have to wonder and hope though that Mr. Norton can reprise his role as Dr. Banner if there is another Hulk movie in the making.

  23. sorry Norton couldn’t revise his role but I also agree that Mark Ruffalo really did his part well, maybe Norton could come back as Hank Pym now there’s a part that would fit him like a glove!

  24. Sorry Norton couldn’t revise his role, but I also agree that Mark Ruffalo really nailed his part, maybe Norton could come back as Hank Pym, now there’s a part that would fit him like a glove!

  25. well in the case of doing that lets make Edward Norton Ant man for the next avengers movie

  26. Norton was good, Ruffalo was great 😉 imho of course 😀

    • An opinion I agree with.

      • Me three.

  27. I think its pretty pointless recasting Norton. Maybe they just wanted to show off their motion capture technology with a guy who looks like the hulk facially. I dunno though, I think it just puts a bit of a dent in the continuity. Loved the film, liked Ruffalo, missed Norton.

  28. I like the majority of posters here was trying to figure out what happened to Edward Norton and found this website.

    I watched the Avengers opening weekend and in my opinion the beginning and end of the movie was great however the middle of it was pretty dull. This is where Norton as Dr Banner would have shined and carried the movie.

    Through the yrs I believe the Hulks character has been one of the worst represented of any Marvel characters the new actor that played the Hulk did good, but I don’t believe he would be good enough to carry a whole movie by himself. Which means we will have yet another actor playing the Hulk role sometime in the future.

    I believe this is a huge error the studio should have kept Norton so they could build on the Hulk character after the Avengers movie. He did a fantastic job in the Incredible Hulk movie and would have carried the dull sections of the Avengers movie.

    • I ” lolled” when reading this