When The Avengers hit theaters in 2012, audiences immediately took to Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Bruce Banner. However, there were still a few fans who would have preferred to see Edward Norton reprise his Incredible Hulk role in Marvel’s first big team-up film, if only for continuity’s sake. After nearly a decade, Ruffalo has certainly made the character his own. But in a new interview with The New York Times, Norton recalled his falling out with the studio and explained his original intentions for the Jade Giant.
Norton agreed to join The Incredible Hulk on the condition that he could rewrite Zak Penn’s screenplay. Apparently, he had enough story ideas for two separate installments and Marvel initially seemed enthusiastic about his vision. But in the end, the studio decided to go in a different direction.
“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.”
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Of course, the creative differences didn’t stop there. The Incredible Hulk’s release in the summer of 2008 was memorably overshadowed by reports of a dispute between Norton and the producers over the film’s final cut. Norton and director Louis Leterrier fought for a 135-minute runtime, while the studio wanted to keep it under two hours. Ultimately, the producers won, and this allegedly compelled Norton to shy away from making public appearances to promote the film.
Norton insisted that he had a “great time” making the movie. But when production started on The Avengers in 2010, Marvel effectively ended their relationship with Norton when they announced that his character would be recast with “an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.”
“Yeah, [it] was cheap,” noted Norton. “It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter. 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.”
Should Marvel have given Edward Norton more creative freedom when making The Incredible Hulk? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!
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