Edward Norton says he loved the chance to play the Hulk and had ideas on a pair of very dark, serious films but Marvel ultimately went in another direction…
It’s hard to remember a time when Edward Norton played Bruce Banner aka ‘The Incredible Hulk’ but back in 2008, he was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe just as it was getting off the ground.
While his portrayal of the scientist turned monster thanks to a lab accident was fairly well received, Norton never appeared in any future Marvel films and he was ultimately replaced by Mark Ruffalo. At the time, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige took a backhanded swipe at Norton after he left the part 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 cast members.”
Looking back now, Norton calls that a ‘cheap shot’ but in reality he never felt like there was a conflict with Feige — they just had two differing opinions on what they wanted the ‘Hulk’ to be.
“I loved the “Hulk” comics,” Norton explained when speaking to the New York Times. “I believed they were very mythic. And what Chris Nolan had done with Batman was going down a path that I aligned with: long, dark and serious. If there was ever a thing that I thought had that in it, it was the Hulk. It’s literally the Promethean myth.
“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. And they were like, “That’s what we want!” As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted. But I had a great time doing it. I got on great with Kevin Feige.”
Norton holds no ill will toward Feige or Marvel Studios but it was clear to him that they had something else in mind for the Hulk beyond his idea to walk a similar road as ‘Batman Begins’ or ‘The Dark Knight’.
“Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter,” Norton said. “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. 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. I went and did all the other things I wanted to do, and what Kevin Feige has done is probably one of the best executions of a business plan in the history of the entertainment industry. As a Disney shareholder, you should be on your feet for what they pulled off.”
Norton has stayed relatively low key in the past decade, picking and choosing the projects he wanted to get involved with. One of those passion projects was his latest film ‘Motherless Brooklyn’, which opens in theaters nationwide on November 1.
As for the Hulk, Ruffalo went onto become a fan favorite, although Marvel never produced another solo movie because they currently share the rights to the character with Universal on any stand alone feature films.