1. “I have it on good authority that Ed Norton is returning and, depending on scheduling, he’ll be appearing alongside Renner et al for the official announcements at SDCC.”

Possibly the largest enigma about Marvel Studios casting is that of Edward Norton and the character he played so well, Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk). Since The Incredible Hulk, it’s been nothing but a battle of words and confusion between Norton, Marvel Studios and us, the fans. While we knew it was unlikely that we would get to see The Incredible Hulk 2 anytime soon, it was almost law that he would have to be back to play the role in The Avengers. We were wrong.

After Robert Downey Jr. made the cameo appearance in the Hulk film to help market it, it was long-rumored that we’d see Norton repay the favor with a Hulk cameo in Iron Man 2. That didn’t pan out, and even though Hulk’s been repeatedly mentioned and “confirmed” as a character in The Avengers, it’s remained vague as to what extent.

Would we only see Banner in a small role? Could he be a partly-antagonistic character (Norton thought the idea of a villainous Hulk was “fun”)? From mentioning his agents were in talks with Marvel, denying he knows much about it and saying the Hulk’s return is “only a matter of time” and of course, the initial controversy about which cut of The Incredible Hulk hit theaters, there’s always been a cloud of mystery surrounding Norton’s future with the franchise.

My thoughts: This had been part of the plan all along. Norton’s a fan and he continued to say it’s up to the fans (i.e. us). Of the dozen posts I’ve written about Ed Norton as Bruce Banner and my desire to see him back, there’s been overwhelming positive response and agreement to this idea.

As we know now, this is sadly no longer the case but it was definitely their plan. As of a few days ago, Norton and Marvel have parted ways and he will not appear as Bruce Banner in The Avengers. A rumored replacement was found in wannabe rap star Joaquin Phoenix, but those rumors were quickly replaced with news that Mark Ruffalo is in talks with Marvel for the part.

What an elaborate scheme this would be if it were all a ruse and he did show up on stage?

What about the Renner part of that statement? Towards the end of May, we heard the rumor that Oscar-nominated bad-ass actor Jeremy Renner was about to sign on with Marvel Studios to play Hawkeye in The Avengers, confirming age-old rumors that he could play the character after meeting with Marvel long ago to discuss it. Just three weeks ago, it was confirmed that he was in fact in final negotiations to play Hawkeye but we’ve yet to hear the big confirmation that he’s officially signed. Do not be surprised if this happens at the panel at Comic-Con. Be even less surprised if the 6000 attendees packed into the room go absolutely insane at this announcement.

2. “There will be an Avengers thingamajig with Whedon (who may or may not be there via telecast, he’s currently in London with the Cap crew and he may or may not be too busy to fly out), Renner and others depending on their schedules (notably Norton).”

Yeap, of course there will be. The Avengers begins production early next year for its 2012 summer release and we just know they’ve been saving some big announcements for this for Comic-Con.

Even though there’s been a lack of official word on it, we know Joss Whedon is directing and helping re-write the script for The Avengers. A geek icon taking the reins of the most ambitious geek movie ever sounds promising, but we’ve yet to see Whedon ride success at the box office. That will no doubt change two years from now and we can most certainly expect him to make an appearance one way or another.

He’s at home on the convention circuit and we know now that he’ll be there in person, possibly to unleash some big surprises of his own on the crowd. Since joining the fray, Whedon’s been involved with Captain America along with his own Avengers movie and we also know he’s met with Edgar Wright, likely to discuss Ant-Man and his introduction in The Avengers (insert Nathan Fillion rumor).

I should also note that Edgar Wright will be at Comic-Con as well with Michael Cera to promote Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Continue to see Marvel’s rumored comic-con plans, including the Thor trailer and the Dr. Strange movie director!

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