Sunday, July 11, 2010

UPDATED - Hulk Out.

The reaction to yesterday's post about recent goings-on in Marvel-land surrounding the Avengers feature and whether or not actor Edward Norton will be joining them was pretty much instantaneous and mostly negative.  Since the story broke on Friday, HitFix's Drew McWeeny has been the point man, and yesterday he received this release from Marvel exec Kevin Feige:
We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. 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 cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.
Ouch! Reading between the lines a bit, Feige's reference to "collaborative spirit" (or lack thereof) is a clearly an allusion to Marvel's impression that Norton didn't play nice last time.  His dismissal from the Avengers roster is thus their way of extracting a pound of flesh.  With Marvel's statement making a last-minute rapprochement with Norton unlikely at best, the speculation now heats up over which "name actor" Marvel will find -- or has found -- to replace him (making this the third Bruce Banner in as many movies).

McWeeny mentions The A-Team's Sharlto Copley as one possibility (I can see it), while Glenn Greenberg's favorite for the part is Lee Pace of the short-lived ABC series Pushing Daisies.  I've never seen the show (though I have the first season sitting in my "to watch" pile), but in my experience Glenn is just about the biggest Hulk fan out there, so if he says Pace is the guy, I'm inclined to agree.  I'm reasonably certain that Marvel had already been furiously making the Hulk casting rounds ahead of the Norton news coming out, so I'd expect word on this fairly soon (perhaps even at San Diego in two weeks).

UPDATE:  And now, again via HitFix, Norton's representation has issued a blistering response to Feige's broadside.  Needless to say, further sojourns in the cinematic Marvel Universe don't appear to be in the cards for the now ex-Dr. Banner.

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