Former ‘Hulk’ Eric Bana on Mark Ruffalo ‘Avengers’ Casting

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 11:42 pm,

While at New York Comic Con, promoting his ex-CIA agent role, starring alongside Cate Blanchett (Robin Hood) and Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) in director Joe Wright’s, Hanna, former Hulk, Eric Bana, offered a few thoughts on Marvel’s Mean-Green-Machine casting troubles.

Though he was there to promote Hanna, Bana took a minute to answer a question about the recent controversy surrounding Edward Norton’s exit from the Hulk role - as well as the decision to have Mark Ruffalo step in for the Avengers (as Bruce Banner and his CGI anti-hero) as well as any potential Hulk sequels.

At the Hanna press junket, Bana spoke about his own exit from the Hulk franchise:

“Nothing ever really went down, it was a real natural occurrence of events. I guess there was a fair gap between the first one and the second one – I was never really in a position where I was on for the second one. So there was never really a feeling as though I’m not a part of it. It just naturally evolved. By the time the second one came along I was in Toronto shooting Time Traveler’s Wife and they were in town shooting the Hulk at the same time. It never really felt like anything good or bad either way.”

The actor was equally kind when discussing Marvel’s choice to drop Edward Norton in favor of Mark Ruffalo for the Avengers mega-mashup:

“In a way, I think it’s kind of cool. So far, each time it’s come out, there’s been someone different. So that might be its legacy. There might be someone else for the 4th time.”

There’s no question Bana was being gracious – especially considering it’s unlikely he’ll be returning to the role.

However, while Bana might think it’s cool that several different actors have had a turn as the Hulk, it’s been a major headache for Marvel – especially considering the exceptional success of casting Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man or Tobey Maguire in the first three Spider-Man films. Even though the upcoming Spider-Man reboot will feature The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield as the heroic web-slinger, for an entire decade, Maguire’s name was synonymous with the Spider-Man character – bringing in over 2 billion in global box office dollars (between the first three films).

While fans will undoubtedly flock to theaters to see their favorite comic book characters adapted for the big screen, no matter who plays them – there’s no doubt that, from a production (and marketing) standpoint, having the same actor portray a character makes things a lot easier.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant.

The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.

Hanna will be released on April 8, 2011.

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  1. Yeah, changing actors is really original.
    Or it would be if James Bond, Dr. Who and doubtlessly a pile of other actors hadn’t been doing it for decades.

    • characters rather, not actors

  2. An interesting perspective. Nice to see something besides finger-pointing and ‘why me?’ remarks.

  3. Those pictures kinda have Bana and Ruffalo looking very similar. I wonder if that is a coincidence??

  4. At least Marvel has chosen good actors each time for the hulk…thats the only redeeming quality of the movies. No offense to Hulk Fans but i’ll wait for this one to come out on DVD.

    • You’re going to wait for THE AVENGERS to come out on DVD???

  5. Tobey Maguire was an ‘exceptional choice’, Uh sorry? I’m sorta hoping that was a typo of dome kind. He was terrible as Spiderman, awful in fact, never got the nature of the character at all.

    • Beckett- It says “exceptional success” not exceptional choice.

      • Sorry, I do apologise. Was walking and reading at the same time.

    • Absolutely right DSB.

      I know I’ve harped on about this before but Tobey Maguire on a national Australian TV variety show, admitted that he had never even read a Spiderman comic book, nor was he ever interested in them as a kid.

      So what does that tell you. He’s an actor who took on the role for monetary reasons, did not research the character at all and just went through the motions of acting to a script, which Sam Raimi could’ve ammended in terms of the Spiderman character if he was so in tune with the character as claimed.

      Raimi’s version of Spidey had a great support cast but that’s about it. It had great cinematic aesthetics but terrible lead actors.

    • One of those rare moments we disagree sam I think Tobey was a fantastic choice. Then again most people thought he was a great choice until the third film came out and it sucked suddenly Tobey was wrong all along. Not saying that’s how you are just I’ve seen alot of people do that.

      • I wasn’t crazy at first about the choice of Tobey as Spidey, but I thought he acquitted himself very well in the first 2 films. The disaster of the third film wasn’t really his fault either, although the whole emo Peter Parker was horrendous.

      • I’m with you! I’m surprised to hear that people don’t like Tobey as Spidey as I thought he totally OWNED the part! The third film was weak, but the first two were really exceptional and in my faves of all time just as movies, not even as Superhero movies, but just movies in general. I was never even momentarily in doubt or dissonance while watching Maguire.

        Unlike, say, Halle Berry as Storm in X-men, or the guy who played Cyclops, I was totally comfortable with the way he did both Parker and Spidey, and he really nailed the way he always had more conversation with himself than with villians in the fighting. And he got the physical look of the poses just right. It takes quite a bit of talent to pull off such a complete job of a character whose face is completely hidden by a mask! Not even the eyes get to help out the conveying of emotions while in the suit! The voicing was perfect and just as I would have imagined in my head.

      • Don’t get me wrong guys. I beleive Tobey Maguire is an awesome actor too. In fact I do own some of his other films on DVD.

        I guess I’m too much of a comic geek / fanboy. For me his portrayal of Peter Parker / Spiderman did not translate well or convince me at all. :-(

      • Why do people relate the lack of sarcasm and smart ass quality to Tobey? If the lines are not written in and or time given to ad lib them how can you blame the actor?

        I too missed that in Spiderman however I blame the writers for not putting it in there more then blaming Tobey for not saying them…

        • @ Aknot

          You make a fair point, but I still think it’s in an actors best interests to at least do a little research on the character you’re about to play and get paid millions of dollars for. He’s a high caliber actor who can assert his position and show a little initiative. I’m sure Sam Raimi would’ve minded if Tobey made a few suggestions.

          Look at what Heath Ledger did. He researched The Joker for a solid 3 months reading various Batman graphic novels and comic books.

          As I said in an earlier post, I couldn’t believe it when Tobey said on national television he had never even read a Spiderman comic book. Did he just draw inspiration from what Raimi told him?

          I would put Sam Raimi and the screenwriters more at fault more than Tobey. Raimi claimed to know the character really well. If he did he certainly did not pass that information onto Tobey.

          At the end of the day I’m not a Tobey hater. My previous posts do affirm that. It’s just that I don’t feel any affinity to Raimi’s version of Spidey at all.

        • Yes to be fair, the writers and director are more to blame, however Maguire has said he knows very little about the character and in that case, he shouldnt have done the part.

          • Yes but a Tobey “type” actor appears to do what is written. (my assumption) He leaves it up to the people that are directing and writing for him to tell him how the character should be.

            Yes there are some actors that can “play the part” based on research and knowledge however it is (MO) solely up to the Director to direct the actor and the Writer(s) to convey in writing how he is supposed to act and what (how) he is supposed to say it.

            If the Directors and Writers dont write and direct the actor to do a certain thing, say something in a certain way how are they supposed to do it in that way?

            Im not saying it had quips written in and Tobey didnt read them and Im not going to say Tobey added quips but they were cut out. I just dont feel the issue is Tobeys. He is the actor he is supposed to act the part that is on the “paper”.

            That would be like Christian Bale telling Nolan what do you mean no, there IS a Batmite in the comics! ;)

    • I liked Tobey as Spidey / Peter, the only problem was he just looked a little too old. No matter how much I liked S2, the subway scene kills me when one of the train passengers says “he’s just a kid” – looks like he’s 30!

      Then again, this reboot, Garfield is what, 28? and he doesn’t looke 16 or 17 either. Happens all the time in movies I suppose.

  6. Eric Bana is one of the nicest actors around.

    I remember when he started out as a stand up comic and used to appear on a national TV comedy series.

    Who would’ve thought then that he would progress to become such a talented actor and acheive major world wide success?

    • he was a stand up comic? holy crap! i never knew… i cant imagine held be funny, but then again, robin williams standup wasnt for kids and he made alot of kid movies… so im gonna look him up on youtube…

      • I only found that out after seeing Chopper, which I watched because I couldn’t believe this was the same guy in Hulk. Kind of a triple-whammy…

        • Yeah it really was a crtically acclaimed film role that brought Eric Bana into the limelight.

          Chopper Read himself suggested that Bana play him, after seeing the actor in the sketch comedy series “Full Frontal”.

          Quite an interesting film. :-)

          • Incredible performance – the bloke’s got some range! Thanks for the Full Frontal suggestion ME, I’ll check that out.

      • I reckon you’ll find quite a bit if you type in “Full Frontal” which was the name of the comedy scetch series.

  7. I know I’m in the minority here, but I enjoyed Bana’s Hulk over Norton’s. I know it was more about psychology than actual smash ‘em up action, but you can’t discount how ridiculously awesome (in a “so bad it’s good way”) Nick Nolte was as the villain. I’d watch it over the newer one any day of the week, and even though Bana will never return, he’s my favorite movie Hulk…unless Ruffalo really knocks it out of the park in The Avengers.

    • Hey I’m in the minority too. I saw “Hulk” at the cinema twice! lol.

      It gets criticized a fair bit, but I actually didn’t mind it overall.

      There were some cringe worthy bits, but I liked what Ang Lee was trying to do with the deep seated psychological / beast within the man approach.

      I can’t say I liked it better than Ed Norton’s “Incredible Hulk” though. :-)

      • @ Magnetic Eye

        Lol i think im in the minority too. Pretty much movie i see in theaters i see 2 or 3 times depending how well i like them. I probly seen Hulk twice. I seen Ed Norton’s Hulk film 3 times i think since i liked it more. I seen both Iron Mans 3 times. I usually go to a movie twice incase i miss somthing. Like Iron Man, i missed the after credits scene cause i didnt read about it afterwards.

        • @ WallyWest

          Wow! I wish I could afford multiple viewings at the cinema. I guess movie tickets are a bit cheaper in the States. :-)

          The local cinema I go to charges $13 a ticket/adult. :-(

          But then again I did go see “Incredible Hulk” twice and “TDK” three times.

          • @ Magnetic Eye

            Well, its only because im single. I understand how much it can cost in bigger cities and other theaters, plus number of people you pay for. I usually pay cheap still cause i go to the matinees for $6 and i only buy a small or medium drink for $ 3 or $ 3.50 which adds up to $9.50. If i go to a movie in 3D that it costs extra by $ 2.00 so the most i would spend would be $11.50. I been to cities where it costs more, around the same price as your cinema. I went to TDK 3 times. Im usually not big on goin to any movie longer than 2 hrs, but films like Titanic & TDK were exceptionable,lol.

            • @ WallyWest

              Most cinemas around town have a half price Tuesday at $7.00 a ticket. It’s still a lot cheaper on your side of the world. :-)

              My wife & I recently treated our daughter to Toy Story 3 in 3D at $20 a ticket / adult and $16 for kids.

              Very expensive and never again. There was more 3D action in the pre movie 3D advertisments. I don’t recall anything really standing out during the movie and 2D would’ve been just as good.

              Plus when you pay $10.50 for a bucket of popcorn and a Pepsi, it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. :-)

              • @ Magnetic Eye

                Wow. Thats quite a bit for one showing. Outta curiousity, what side of world are you from? There’s one theater i been to that was expensive. $11.00 for adults is i can remember, as for refreshments etc. oh lord, i once bought a bag of my favorite candy, wasn’t even half full and it was $6.00 when i could of just got a small box for a $1.00 at walmart. Sometimes i get a cherry icy, it was $4.00 for a large. I agree, it is getting ridiculous. Half of the posts i read on here on artical about new films goin staright to people’s homes instead of theaters approve of seeing new films in their homes. Though id still be skeptical about how much somthing like that would cost, but i kinda wouldn’t mind seeing new films at the comfort of my home but at the sametime miss the theater experience. Did your daughter like Toy Story 3? Both me and one of my nieces thought it was better than Toy Story 2. Lol, my sister in-law told me how her daughter got emotional because of that bear being mean, especially to big baby when they learned the truth near the end.

                • @ WallyWest

                  I’m from the lovely city of Adelaide, in the state of South Australia, AUSTRALIA.

                  Quite a few films have been shot here over the last four decades. Probably the most notable that instantly come to mind are the “Road Warrior” films (Mad Max) over here and “Wolf Creek”.

                  Adelaide has around 6 major shopping malls throughout the suburbs, each one with a cinema complex. The Adelaide CBD has two cinema complexes plus an art house cinema.

                  There’s also a couple of art house cinemas out in the suburbs and a 1940′s art deco cinema.

                  My daughter loved Toy Story 3. She wants the DVD for Xmas. lol I was also very impressed with it. That was a pretty mean bear but he got just what he deserved.

                  I thought it was just as good as the first two. All three films are certainly highly consistent with each other.

                  I still reckon movie prices and refreshments are cheaper over there. :-)

                  So what part of the US are you from? I’ve got friends and relatives in Fresno CA, Athens GEORGIA, Yonkers NY and Boston MASS. Got to visit them one day. I’ve always had a fascination with the United States & Canada.

                    • @ WallyWest

                      Yeah my wife and I have also started to bring in a drink and snacks in my daughters backpack. My daughter will only drink water or chocolate flavored milk so that works out well.

                      Hey I googled Iowa and looked up the capital city Des Moines. Looks like a nice city and I’ve learnt that Ashton Kutcher and Brandon Routh both hail from Iowa. :-)

                    • @Magnetic Eye,

                      I too hail from Adelaide, and work in the filmmaking industry here. I have to say that prices here are wayyy too much, especially for food and drink. My local is the Wallis at Mitcham, but I always prebuy my munchies at either Foodland or the Cheap as Chips next door. I used to work for Wallis, and the markups are incredible. When you look at the prices compared to the US and then realise that our dollar is going to be stronger than theirs very soon, our local industry is ripping people off. They’ll argue that they don’t make enough money as people are staying away from the cinema, but higher prices won’t attract me back. I’ve got my Blu-Ray and big screen TV. Sure its not the same, but a hell of a lot better than emptying my wallet. Oh, and DO NOT mix popcorn and Coke if you’re on a date. That bad smell in the bins – that’s ‘Cokecorn’! Try mixing them together in a cup and having a smell a minute later. Yuk. Who’d wanna kiss that smell?

          • lol.. here they charge us like 15 dollars.. we dont even have 3D in my town so i’ve never seen it.. everything is cheaper in the us. especially to norwegians :) but lately the prices have gone up almost 2 dollars than couple of years ago. but think if we got 3D here! wow! it’ll be like 25 dollars probably! hahaha

            • @ zpm

              Greetings fellow Adelaidean. Good to hear from you. I live in the western suburbs so my local is the Reading Cinema complex at West Lakes Mall.

              You mentioned working in the film making industry. What do you do? I mainly work as a HD videographer these days but have a background as a film camera assistant and have been working on and off in the industry since 2001.

              Also whilst the Australian dollar is doing really well against the Greenback, I don’t think it’ll ever be stronger. Still at 99.25 cents I’m buying up heaps more on Amazon. :-)

  8. I liked Tobey Maguire ok as Spidey, he had some Spidey moments where he was in that character, just needed to take it up a notch or two to convince most people probly. I think he had ir pretty good in the first film but was lacking that humor in the partly in the 2nd film and mostly the 3rd film. Anyone remember Christopher Daniel Barnes who voiced Spidey in the 90′s animated series? I liked the humor he had even if he was just voicing Spidey, Not sure how old he was in 2002 when the first film came out but i seen him on tv before and he looked like he’d be a great peter Parker on film. As for the Hulk movies, I liked both Erica Bana & Ed Norton the same really. And im willing to give Mark ruffalo the benefit of a doubt of pulling off the role. Im glad Eric Bana seems to have common sense. Aslong as the film ends up being good, Im willing to give that actor a chance.

  9. Besides the 3 Spider-Man films i have, the only other film i have of Tobey was his first film, mostly a cameo like appearance in The Wizard.

    • Other than the Spiderman films, “Pleasantville”, “Joyride”, “Wonder Boys”, “The Cider House Rules” and “Seabiscuit” is all I’ve got.

      • The Ice Storm: great film!

        • Ang Lee as well, funnily enough…

        • Ah yes I remember seeing this at University. An excellent film directed by Ang Lee. Must add to my(to buy)list along with “Brothers” & “The Good German”. :-)

        • I loved the Ice Storm. Good call.

      • Wonder Boys is a fantastic film!

  10. Bana was best in Munich :)

    • “If any of us get laid tonight, it’s because of Eric Bana in Munich”

  11. I’m not interested in any recasting notice for Hulk in the upcoming Avengers movie since Ed already represented the grow-up and development of the charater in an entire movie. So basically, they’re just trying to fill-up the hole and shut the mouth of the ones that are complaining about the exit of Ed -me included. Anyone they cast as Banner/Hulk for an assemble movie is not interesting anymore, unless you like the gossip and speculation…

  12. @ Magnetic Eye

    Yup, its a nice city. My oldest brother and his wife & kids live in West Des Moines. Its 64 miles from where i live, & little over a hour to drive up there depending on road conditions. I read how few celebs are from Iowa. I been to Brandon Routh’s hometown and used to work with one of his ex-gfs. When his Superman movie came out, i asked her if she regrets breaking up with him, she said no,lol. Never know if she’s telling the truth since he’s a celeb. Besides him and Ashton, Clois Leachman is from Iowa, David Yost- the original blue ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, lesser actresses im not familiar with are from Iowa and i can only tell what characters they played from which movies. That woman who played Tommy Javis’s mother in Friday the 13th part 4 is from Iowa. And the red haired crazy girl from Return Of The Living Dead. The theater i go to is in Tom Arnold’s hometown of Ottumwa. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger payed a visit to Iowa for one of Tom’s Birthdays. I have to google to see if theres more.

  13. I forgot to add Annabeth Gish, and theres a redhead girl i remember reading about thats from Iowa, she was on the show Melrose Place but i forget the name.

    • Also Iowa’s most famous starship captain! :-)

      • @ Big Dentist

        Dang, i forgot that the ship was also built in Iowa in the movie,lol. And how can i forget John Wayne.

  14. I find it really stupid that they recast the Hulk. I mean at the end of TIH there’s a Tony Stark cameo! Ugh Marvel UGH!

  15. Damn it’s so full of fail that they Recast it… It makes almost no sense at all.

  16. Im surprised there wasn’t as much anger towards Marvel when they replaced Terrance Howard w/ Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2. I even think it was because of simliar cases of why Norton’s release. I was even one of the ones who was skepetical and little upset they replaced Howard but that changed after seeing Cheadle in the role and i accepted him. Give Ruffalo & Marvel a break.

    • Sorry but he wasnt as good as Howard in that role.

  17. I liked both Howard & Cheadle the same as Rhodey.

  18. Kya h

  19. eu acho q os dois são ótimos atores,então mesmo se for o mark ruffalo,está td bem!