Back before Mark Ruffalo became Bruce Banner and his big, green alter ego the Hulk in the MCU, Edward Norton briefly inhabited the role in The Incredible Hulk. Norton was replaced by Ruffalo for The Avengers, and there have been rumblings that the actor didn’t get along with MCU head honcho Kevin Feige behind-the-scenes. In a new interview, Norton opened up about his Hulk experience, revealing he pitched Marvel on not one, but two Incredible Hulk movies, adding that Marvel told him they loved his ideas – until they changed their minds.
In some alternate universe (a multiverse, perhaps), Edward Norton is still playing the Incredible Hulk. But Norton’s time as the Hulk was short-lived, and enough time has passed that he’s able to look back and reflect on things. Speaking with the New York Times, Norton revealed he pitched Marvel on two dark and gritty Hulk movies – films in the same tradition as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series.
“I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip,” said Norton. “And they were like, ‘That’s what we want!’ As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted.”
Norton also talked a bit about his bumpy relationship with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would’ve taken, and I wasn’t going to do that,” Norton said. “I honestly would’ve wanted more money than they’d have wanted to pay me. But that’s not why I would’ve wanted to do another Hulk movie anyway.”
When Norton was replaced with Ruffalo, Feige released a statement saying: “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 castmember.”
Norton said he thought Feige’s statement was “cheap”, adding: “It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter.”
However, the actor adds that he has no problem with Feige and that the two just had a different approach to the material. “Kevin had an idea of a thing that you could do, and it was remarkable. Now it didn’t happen to be on a tonal, thematic level what I wanted to spend my time doing.”
While I like Norton as an actor, I think Ruffalo is a much better Banner/Hulk, so it all worked-out for Marvel in the end, and Norton seems content to be doing his own thing.
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