Favreau & Whedon Talk New Hulk in The Avengers

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 12th, 2013 at 7:20 pm,

By far biggest panel and one of the biggest news-generating events at this year’s Comic-Con was of course, Marvel Studios’ presentation for Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and The Avengers. Of the revelations and announcements made by Marvel, the most controversial is Mark Ruffalo’s taking over of the character Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk star Ed Norton.

Marvel Studios directors Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon were both questioned on the matter of replacing Ed Norton and the challenge of breaking continuity. Favreau talks about having to experience a similar issue with Iron Man 2 and Whedon shares his feelings on Ruffalo joining his cast for The Avengers.

At Comic-Con, IGN had a chance to speak with Iron Man director Jon Favreau about the Norton-Ruffalo situation where he gave his honest thoughts about replacing actors and breaking that continuity:

“It’s tricky… I know Edward, and I dig the guy’s talent tremendously. He’s always been a very great guy… I’m sure that however this comes out, it’s going to be something that’s amenable to both the filmmaker and the studio. I know that we faced the challenge of recasting with Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard, and although I think breaking continuity is always a challenge and should be avoided whenever possible, it is the reality of the movie business that sometimes things don’t work out.”

The Terrence Howard replacement did cause a lot of fury from a segment of the online community but in the end it did work out and Don Cheadle was a solid choice to play James “Rhodey” Rhodes. The Mark Ruffalo situation is exactly the same and he’s just as talented – folks will see that once they see him on screen as Banner in The Avengers.

As for the director of The Avengers who will directly be working with Ruffalo, Joss Whedon is nothing but excited and happy at the chance to work with the actor and he’s grateful they were able to bring him into the fold. At the Saturday night Syfy party, MTV got a quick word from Whedon on the red carpet on the subject:

“I’m stunned that we landed that, just stunned… He has what I remember loving about the show, that quality of, you just look at him and you go through it with him, he invites you in in a way that [no] other performer has since Bill Bixby. He is a guy who’s been beaten up by life, but not defined by that. That’s what I want from Bruce Banner, is a guy who’s still getting it done, even though he has his problem.”

It’s nothing but a positive attitude from geek icon Joss Whedon who I was fortunate enough to meet the night before the Marvel presentation took place. He’s a great guy to be around and a great director to work with – I’m excited to see what he’ll do with such a large-scale project that’s tailor-made for his own interests and that of his fanbase.

Even though I was very disappointed that Norton wasn’t able to come to a deal with Marvel to reprise the role of Bruce Banner, I know Ruffalo will do a solid job in the part and as time goes by, the reality of this change settles in comfortably.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes and our main feed @screenrant and let us know your thoughts.

Thor opens May 5, 2011; The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.

Sources: IGN, MTV

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  1. Not having Norton as Banner is just ridiculous. I can’t even recall having seen this knew guy in anything. Not that it matters, Whedon is directing and writing, The Avengers will most likely be canccelled half way through.

    • Ruffalo was great recently in Shutter Island. He generally does more indie work though, so he’s not an A-list Hollywood type. As for Norton, I remember news of his creating alot of problems from doing his own rewrites of the script to, to not doing much publicity for the last movie (because he was angry his rewrites didn’t make as much of the final cut that he wanted) to being wishy-washy about returning. With a large ensemble, someone as difficult as he can stir the pot.

      • I havent seen Shutter Island yet, but I will check it out. I too have heard Norton can be difficult, however, it was clear he was really passionate about the project and the character, which is more than you can say for most Hollywood actors taking on such a part.

        They always say ” No, I didnt know anything about the character, but as soon as I got the part I rushed out and got loads of comics”.

        Norton was a fan, and he rightly wanted input to make the film as good as possible, he may be difficult to work with but he wanted what was best for the character and therefore the audience and fans alike. If you ask me, more people like that involved, the better.

        • Couldn’t agree more with you !
          Ed is not just a mindless puppet,he feels and thinks the part he plays.
          A shame he is out..a big mistake and minus that already hurts the quality of the Movie.

          And as much as I like whedon and his understanding of making a good character,firefly is still one of my fav shows,…for TV,I think he totally doesn’t fit a Cinema Movie experience…all his Movies feel more like little made for TV stuff not that epic cinema big Movie feel!

          • Absolutely 100% right. I’ve enjoyed most of what Joss Whedon has written for TV and comic books. “Angel” was my favourite show, but I have never felt he totally understands the visual language of cinema.

            The guy is a screenwriter for episodic TV. He may be great at writing for an ensemble cast BUT he is not a director or film maker in the traditional sense. Has he studied and graduated from film school like some of the great Directors have?

            NO?…A big fat ZILCH,…. ZERO? Therefore he lacks the experience and skills to truly make The Avengers a cinematic epic. Understanding the visual structure of film is really what sets apart the experienced big boys from the wannabees.

            Let screenwriters write their dialogue but Marvel should’ve hired a professional experienced Director.

            I really do hope Marvel have the sense to hire an experienced Director of Photography, cameramen and camera crew. They may be this film’s only saving grace.

      • You do realize Norton was promised some creative control over the movie, correct? Feige stripped him of that so he didn’t want to do promotional activities and decided he would make some changes to a script that made the movie, ahem… BETTER. You guys should not listen to the main rumor and listen to the others instead, then back them up with facts.

        • How do we know the rewrites would’ve made the movie better? Norton is not a screenwriter or director as far as i know.

          • But he had a good knowledge of the character and he was the one playing the part, surely his input should have been welcomed rather than spurned?

        • Woulda, coulda, shoulda. It’s almost pointless now to argue what would have made the move “better” (very subjective, your better may not be my better), and I can’t say I always agree with other fans’ interpretations of source material. We won’t see Norton’s changes until there’s sufficient monetary incentive for the studio to create a “Edward Norton Cut” of the movie.

        • Jake: And from the studio’s point of view, Norton’s additions to the movie added more to the character of Bruce Banner, but overall it slowed the movie down and weakened what they believed to be vital shots. I belive that Marvel is trying to give us the best comic book movies possible, after all it only helps them.

          In the end, Norton should’ve plugged the movie.

    • I enjoyed watching Norton play the Hulk but in real life his ego is way up there. That’s why he didnt come back. He wants too much control. Ruffalo is an excellent character actor. He will pull off Bruce Banner very well. As always I am more worried about yet another new look for Hulk.

    • It sucks that Norton won’t be returning for Avengers. Honestly it’s a big deal to me when continuity is broken like that. It makes it difficult for me to stay engaged in the project. However I’m excited to see Ruffalo’s interpretation of the character. I’ve seen him in stuff before and i’ve always really enjoyed him. Norton captured very viscerally, the pain that Bruce Banner was going through. He’s always been the kind of actor who can broadcast those minute subtleties of the character he’s portraying. Ruffalo however is more personable, so I’m hoping he brings that across in the Avengers as well. More of a human side to Banner.

  2. No Norton for you Norton lovers? Well dont see the film. I love Norton he IS a great actor but big whoop it happens.

    As for the article in general what I find most “humorous” is do you think we will ever see a director speak out against the studios for not making something happen on this scale?

    Do you think we would hear the director/writer saying Ruffalo is passable but we wanted Norton. Or Thank goodness we got rid of Norton….

    No we will never hear what anyone truly “feels” it will always be walk the walk but keep your mouth shut.

  3. I always find it funny we people think it’s some how meaningful that the director of a film is saying good things about the film or the actor. Did you expect him to be upset about anything? He’s he gonna say it’s bad casting my film is gonna suck.

    Look I’m not saying Mark is a bad actor but he is no where near as good as Norton. While I hate recasting at least Cheadle was better than Howard. Norton is an amazing actor while mark is just ok. I’ve seen a few of his films and not only have his films been unimpressive but his performances were not exactly mind blowing or even impressive. A large amount of actors attached to the Avengers and the only one of them who could hold their own with Norton was RDJ.

    • I think Mark is a little more than passable, but otherwise, well put.

    • @Daniel I gotta agree with that,I love RDJ but I don’t want him stealing the show which he’ll do without even trying.Like he said “I’ll clown those fools”. The rest of these guys are gonna have to practically sell their souls to the devil to be on par with RDJ. If RDJ outshines everybody then they are gonna look REALLY bad in turn making the movie look bad. The writing has to be good to balance it out but these other actors are going to have make this THE MOST IMPORTANT PERFORMANCE OF THEIR LIVES. I think Jeremy Renner’s and RDJ’s interaction if written in will be the best though.

    • Cheadle is agreat actor when he’s given a part that allows him to be great…As Rhodey, he was just doing what was asked him to for the few scenes that he was in and the two fight scenes-that was it. If Terence Howard was there it would’ve been alot more dramatic and would’ve added alot to the situation that was occuring with RDJ’s character..I think that the chemistry between Howard and RDJ was much better in the first film and it was that initial chemistry that held that pic together..With Cheadle, it felt that he was just “filling in” as if to say well I was the “only black character actor available at the time”..I seriously think that was what really bothered me in the last film-the lack of chemistry..i felt that though these actors were all there that some piece of the pie was missing-even Sam Rockwell’s character wasn’t as good as Bridges character in the first one…Everything was laid out and the little mystery that was present in the first one wasnt there either..
      Now they have Ruffalo in as Banner,hopefully by the time Captain America and Thor come out that this super team will be a great collaboration instead of a borefest…though Marvel and many on ther net have said that Norton was a threat to the Avengers team-I don’t think so..one thing that’s great about a “super team ” is the fact that they all have various levels of egotism..Iron Man is a genius and likes to work alone,Thor is a god, Captain America is a seasoned soldier and doesn’t like gadgets and is out of time,Antman and Wasp represent humanity and love,the Hulk is the bad roomie-the antagonist,Hawkeye is the smartass consience and youngest of the group..Not having Norton in there well it goes against the very nature of such a group..The character of Bruce Banner in Marvel continuity has always been an unlikeable hero-though other scientific heroes such as Reed Richards,hank Pym and namor have had to tolerate or even work with him to solve situations, at the end of the day it was always “ok cu later”..The only time Banner got to a point of being “one of the guys” was when his mind and that of the Hulks’s had finally merged with the help of Doc Samson(he added his ego to the mix)and he was able to control and that he was able to enjoy life as a hero..At the end of the last film it was hinted that this situation may have happened..
      Ruffalo is a good actor and continues to get better with each film,however i feel that this is goin to be a similar case-like Cheadle, that he’ll have some lines,show up in a few scenes and that’s it-nothing too dramatic..I don’t believe Marvel really has any idea about what they might do in another Hulk film-there are so many ways and too many directions they could go with that character..However if they do proceed with another Hulk film and Ruffalo does a great job with the Avengers film, that forgetting the last film ever happened and rebooting again would be a bigger mistake then just replacing Norton..if that is the case then bringing the Hulk back to tv may be the other option..

  4. Ruffalo is a great choice, solid actor. Sure, most of his movies are indies, and he does his fair share of romantic comedies. But the guy has talent.

    I’m interested to see how Banner’s roll is going to be developed in the Avengers movie.

    And lets get Hulk 2 and SHEILD movies in the pipeline to be made.

  5. i forsee a hollywood crapfest of films coming up here

  6. If The Avengers fails, and there is a chance that it will, it could be Batman and Robin all over again. Obviously not in terms of acting or overall quality,that ‘film’ made comic book movies into a farce that took some time for the genre to recover from.

    Think of it like this, there are a lot of comic book movies coming out, there has been quite a few in the past ten years, there is always the danger of oversaturation, and while that is fine if the quality stands up to scrutiny, but if there ends up being a bad to good ratio in favour of the bad, then the general public will stop watching. And comic fans alone cannot keeps these films going.

    The Avengers is the big one. A comic book team up, the likes of which has never been seen before, a cast of people who are great in their seperate movies and franchises, being thrust together. There will be close to a dozen superheroes in this movie. The budget is going to be off the scale. You have Whedon directing, this is a guy who has never done anything close to this level, and has had more flops than hits.

    What coheisive story are they going to come up with to fit around the huge cast, that runs for two and a half hours?

    And there is another problem. We know RDJ is great as Iron Man. What if Hemsworth or Evans suck in their roles in their movies, this can also affect Avengers too.

    • I think the closet we have to this type of film to use as a gauge is X2-X-Men United. That had 10-15 major characters in the Marvel Mutant Universe and turned out well..It CAN be done… But there was continuity from the first x-Men film as well..unlike the AVengers film…If Thor and Captain America do okay but not great..ie..bank 120-150 million domestic with about the same overseas will Marvel move ahead with the Avengers as we know it or will they delay the project, recast and Twilight up the cast to make this work for only the 12-25year olds?

      What about if these films fail to show a profit what will it mean for an Avengers film? I like Ruffalo but still think they were full of crap when they talked of character continuity with actos and we have already seen them turf that idea twice..

      • I will conceed that in X2 it worked well, but this is different. Its mashing 3 franchises together, their worlds and characters, the X men is established as an ensemble, this is a team up.

        If the other films fail to show a profit, then all bets will be off. And there is a real chance of that. Thor looks amazing but the character is less well known than Iron Man, as for Captain America, well, isssues with Evans aside, it is the biggest risk.

        With Captain America, they have already said the patriot angle will be scaled back. This is to help with worldwide distrubution and how will it would go across, but this will annoy fans of that character. Its a lose lose situation in that regard. How popular is Captain America outside of the US?

        I live in the UK, and I have never read a Captain America book, the character has never held any interest for me at all.#

        Captain America and Thor, both have a uniqueness going for them. Cap has the WW2 setting which is nothing we’ve seen before, Thor has the whole Asgard thing going on. What does the Avengers have?

        • I’m from Canada and I LOVED Captain America as a kid.. I loved the costume, the shield, the wings on his hood, the red boots and how he was ALWAYS going to do the right thing..to me that was so cool..a great role model in my eyes. He wasn’t a tool for propaganda in my eyes he WAS THE GUY who was going to help and do the right thing no matter how bleak a situation became..he was there for you.That IMO is the hallmark of a super-hero!!

          • Thats cool, I dont have a problem with the character in that way, I’m just saying some people and some countries most certainly will. For me as a kid, it was Superman, and that hasnt really changed.

            • I’m picking up what you’re putting down..

              SOme people overseas will just see an American flag when they look at the costume and then they won’t give the movie a chance but if they do the character justice then I think it will translate well..

        • @ DrSamBeckett

          I live in Australia and Captain America comic books were always readily available at the local news agent or corner delicatessens when I was a kid in the mid to late seventies.

          In fact you could find most Marvel titles back then and second hand bookshops were always a good source for finding back issues.

          In terms of my collection, I’ve probably got around 500 or so issues of Cap.

          Of course these days it’s deciding what not to buy at the comic book store. :-)

          • I hear ya!! :) 4 bucks a pop doesn’t help either..

  7. Sam honestly there is no doubt in my mind what so ever that wheadon will deliver on his side of things. I actually don’t know what you mean by flops. If you mean creatively the majority of his stuff is criticky acclaimed and loved. If you mean financially this is the guy that gave us two successful shows with angel and Buffy and while firefly was a great show that was missed it wasn’t at all wheadons fault giving the networks mismagment but let’s not forget overtime firefly has become a hit on DVD it more than trippled it’s fanbase. The movie may not of made 200mil but it made a profit. He also wrote Toy story.

    My doubts are with the new hulk and all the build ups to the film. I think Hulk is being handeled badly now Thor does not look good but the real challenge is Evans as Cap.

    • I have said this before. While Banner is the Hulk you do not need to much of Banner to have the Hulk.

      Some of you are talking like it is the end of the world because we do not have a “Banner”.

      If this was the Hulk feature film sure…. but it is not. I will laugh my butt off if Ruff only has like 3 mins face time.

      There is a reason hindsight is 20/20.

      • But that’s likely what’s gonna happen. It’s an Avengers movie. Even if Hulk is a main part of the plot, probably Banner will be something like 10% of Hulk time. Damn, some people who saw TIH won’t even notice they changed the actor :D

  8. Mark Ruffalo would have been a good replacement for Eric Bana.


    This movie will now be EPIC!!!!

  10. You MET him??

    How did he smell…..?

  11. Norton is a great actor, but don’t write off Ruffalo- he’s incredible in his own right. He has such a diverse resume and a great deal of range. I’ve been a big fan of his for many, many years and his involvement is the only thing that’s softened the blow of Norton’s departure.

    • I think he is a good actor too and I will still see the Avengers film regardless of broken promises of actor/charactor continuity..I mean I have been waiting 35 years to see the big guns from both Marvel & DC to get their own movies..it is great to be a kid at heart and my wheaty side is so excited waiting for these films to hit theaters but my frosted side is still peeved that they broke that promise.. :)

      • Eh, that’s Hollywood for ya. Win some, lose some. You get the world’s most ambitious movie which has a high likely hood of being extremely epic, but you gotta have a couple of good actors scrapped and replaced with lesser known actors. That happens.

        Wish it didn’t but it did. I liked Norton’s Hulk.

      • I’m going to put my full opinions out there. Bluntly.

        - Norton is one of my favorite actors
        - I have only seen Ruffalo in Shutter Island. Dicaprio stood out more.
        - Norton as Banner was spectacular
        - I thought Hulk looked cool in TIH
        - I liked Incredible Hulk more than the original Iron Man
        - The original Hulk sucked
        - Marvel missed out with Norton
        - I raged when I heard Norton wasn’t in Avengers
        - I’m going to rage when I see Ruffalo the first time on screen
        - If Incredible Hulk 2 gets made without Norton, I WILL RAGE

        Honestly I’m going to see Avengers regardless of the actor playing Banner, thats how Marvel is most likely looking at it. However, if I see an actor out of place that lowers my score of the movie, which means I won’t see it more than once, unlike Iron Man 1 & 2 and the Incredible Hulk.

        If you start to mess with continuity and fans, you’re bound to get bit in the ass eventually.

        • go see THe Brothers Bloom with Ruffalo and Adrien Brody-Ruffalo shines as the older brother..

  12. I don’t care what anyone says, Don Cheadle made Rhodey awesome. Terrance Howard made him seem like a p—-y…

    • Terrence Howard- “tony..tony..!!!(all faggoty and gay sounding)

  13. my bigest concern is are they going to bring in the leader into the avengers filom,and some of the other villains like wintersoldier,ultron,enchantress,absorbingman,and fin fang foom since he can be done right by brining him from thors world,and more abomination. i for one think they have to bring in the leader since they left him hangin there at the end of the incredible hulk.

    • I doubt Fin Fang Foom will be in the movie since he is more a Doctor Strange villain but it will be interesting to see what villains they use for the Avengers movie. I, too, am VERY upset at the fact that Norton is not playing Incredible Hulk and that Chris Evans is playing Cap. Now dont get me wrong, Chris Evans is a great actor and im sure he can pull off Captain America but he already played Johnny Storm(they are talking reboot for FF but still), most of his movies are more comedy based because of how freaking hilarious he is but we’ll see how well it works out. Mark Ruffalo is a good actor but romantic comedies and indie movies are not a great resume to have when doing comic book movies knowing how critical we are of casting and trying to stay as true to the comics as best as possible, i mean the first, and only time, i ever seen him was 13 Going On 30 so yeah. I hope they decide to change back to Norton and change Captain America to either a no namer like Chris Hemsworth(seriously no knew who he was….i had to tell him Capt. Kirk’s dad in the beginning of the new Star Trek movie) or someone with more credibility and experience that would be able to fit the part. On a side note, i hope that they do make a Doctor Strange movie because he is a more unknown character that i love so i hope the rumors are true.

  14. Ruffalo is the new Bixby. “da,da,da,da(sad Hulk tv show theme piano music playing in background with Norton walking away in the rain)

  15. To be honest I’m just glad that the Hulk is in the Avengers movie. As he should be.

    I would have preferred Norton but I can live with Ruffalo.

    Though Thor and Captain America will both be major movies, my feeling is that the Avengers is the big one.

    As an Aussie science fiction writer I’ve been a Marvel Thor fan since the original Journey into Mystery of August 1962.

    If you get a chance check out some of my Marvel (mainly Thor) fan fiction. Just scroll down below my author profile and you will see over 40 fan fiction stories here:


    Maybe also check out my new novella. Only just released as an e-book on Xlibris and also now available in Kindle edition on Amazon: http://www.xlibris.com/SoldieroftheBrell.html



  16. Frankly I wouldn’t have minded if they had jettisoned the banner character altogether. The Hulk should be the main character. Let him be able to speak. Let him be a full fledged character instead of a mindless rampaging monster.

    Look at the 1931 Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. It’s the monster that’s fascinating to watch not Dr. Frankenstein. It’s interesting to see his innocent reactions to the world and his persecution because of the way he looks. Persecution that forces him to become the monster he is mistakenly thought to be.

    That’s the way the Hulk should be portrayed. Get rid of Banner and that boring romance with Betty Ross and let the Hulk be the focus.

  17. This is the AVENGERS movie right? It’s not the INCREDIBLE NORTON movie…let’s remember that. Marvel knows how their characters should be viewd on screen…they know their own characters well…and if you have an actor saying No! we should have dr.banner do this and that? That’s a problem. Let the director direct, let the writer write and the actor should shut up read his/her lines and put their acting abilities to work.

  18. I think the comparison to Bill Bixby is of no relivance…….Although a great TV show (one that will always remind me of my childhood) this rendition of the Hulk and Banner is not what I want in a blockbuster movie.

    As for villains I am not sure there will be any major villains it seems from the small teasers in the previous movies the Hulk is the “villain” which would also make it very easy to not have Banner in the movie at all like it was suggested above. Leave Banner out of the Avengers al together and then if can be worked out bring Norton back for TIH2. I do feel that he had all the characteristics as well as the physique I fave come to expect in today’s Bruce Banner.

  19. Hope it goes well – Would still have loved David Tennant (Dr Who)…get the part…think he’d have really nailed Bruce Banner – but…so long as they get The Hulk right….& make him just a wee bit more scary looking…he’s a monster..remember…but a goodie monster !

  20. I really liked Edward Norton as the Hulk. It was a great movie and he was a great actor. I am very disapointed that Norton is not coming back. It is not too late to re-negotiate terms, so please Marvel, try harder, or let Norton have what he needs! Mark Ruffalo doesn’t have the face nor talent to play Bruce Banner anyways.

    MARVEL!!!! You are going to turn your fantastic movies into a 1990′s Batman (and they really sucked, except for the two first one), but they just went from Great to Horrible. Do you think the audsience will accept the change of Christian Bale for a third Batman??? What you did with Iron Man 2 was not that bad because Terrence did not act as War Machine in the first movie anyways and he was just a supporting actor. People are not that stupid and will not buy Ed Norton’s replacement for Mark Ruffalo.

  21. Most dissepointing
    i’m not seeing the movie anyways after this and the missing of spiderman and wolverine.
    Norton deserves it and you trow him away like garbage.
    lame cheapskate