The major question regarding Marvel Studios' plans to bring all their big screen superheroes together for the team-up epic, The Avengers, is simply 'Who's going to be in it?'
While we can confirm that The Avengers roster will include the big three of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, it hasn't been so clear about whether or not Bruce Banner and his big green alter ego will sign up as well. Over the past year, there have been numerous interviews with actor Ed Norton about whether or not he'll be back and his answers ranged from little hints of what the future of the Hulk could entail to a seemingly lack of interest in being a part of Marvel's plans.
Ed Douglas at Superhero Hype had a chance to speak with The Incredible Hulk star Norton yesterday and took the opportunity to ask him about his status in regards to Marvel Studios and their in-development film projects.
"Yeah, to some degree, through my agents... But there's always been an agenda I think to unspool a lot of the Marvel Universe and then come back... I think they've got a lot of new stuff that they're rolling out and then I think at some point they're going to figure out how they want to get around to 'Avengers.'"
While this presents no exciting information about a possible The Incredible Hulk 2, it does confirm that Norton's reps are in talks with Marvel for him to be a part of The Avengers which to me is not only important, but necessary considering the foundation they set up in that movie, crossing over with a cameo from Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.
Marvel President of Production, Kevin Feige, has mentioned the Hulk to be part of The Avengers in the past and there have been plenty of rumors that Norton could appear in Iron Man 2. While the first part should be true, the latter was shot down from Iron Man director Jon Favreau who clarified that Iron Man 2 takes place in the timeline before The Incredible Hulk.
From what we know of Iron Man 2 from the trailers (check out our own Iron Man 2 extended trailer!) it seems that by the end of the movie, he'll be a full-fledged member of S.H.I.E.L.D. working with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and recruiting heroes for The Avengers initiative (insert cameo in Hulk movie). Going forward, we also know that Thor takes place after all of these movies so he'll be next to sign up, followed by Captain America who the team will unfreeze at the end of that character's movie, leading into The Avengers.
The real positive here is that Ed described his response as "cheerfully optimistic" which bodes well for Marvel film fans everywhere.
[UPDATE: Just to put a (temporary) end to some other rumors floating around about possible Hulk/Bruce Banner cameos; MTV spoke with Ed Norton about his future with Marvel where he responded that there are no current plans for him to shoot cameos in Iron Man 2, Thor or Captain America.
"We'll see what they want to do. I figure it's a ways down the road."
This of course can change as Thor is still in production and Captain America is set to begin this summer. If he is to make a cameo, I would expect it to be at the end of the Captain America movie where I hope to see him alongside Tony Stark and Thor as they meet Captain America, setting the stage for The Avengers]
Iron Man 2 opens May 7, 2010, Thor opens May 5, 2011, The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.