Ed Norton was in talks to reprise his role as The Hulk in the upcoming Marvel film The Avengers, written & directed by Joss Whedon and starring Chris Evans (Captain America) Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). It was thought that Norton would play Bruce Banner as he did in 2008′s commercially successful The Incredible Hulk. Talks fell through however, and instead of issuing a vague press release wishing Norton well, the President of Marvel Studios made it clear that it was Norton’s bad attitude, not his salary requirements, that made it impossible to grant him the role. This statement is really bitchy and speaks to some serious problems with Norton:
“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,” said Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige in a statement. “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.”
[From E! Online]
In response, Norton’s rep called Feige’s statement inaccurate and defamatory and said that it was salary, not any personal issues, that led to a standstill in negotiations:
“This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light. Here are the facts: two months ago, Kevin called me and said he wanted Edward to reprise the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. He told me it would be his fantasy to bring Edward on stage with the rest of the cast at ComiCon and make it the event of the convention. When I said that Edward was definitely open to this idea, Kevin was very excited and we agreed that Edward should meet with Joss Whedon to discuss the project. Edward and Joss had a very good meeting (confirmed by Feige to me) at which Edward said he was enthusiastic at the prospect of being a part of the ensemble cast. Marvel subsequently made him a financial offer to be in the film and both sides started negotiating in good faith. This past Wednesday, after several weeks of civil, uncontentious discussions, but before we had come to terms on a deal, a representative from Marvel called to say they had decided to go in another direction with the part. This seemed to us to be a financial decision but, whatever the case, it is completely their prerogative, and we accepted their decision with no hard feelings.
We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige’s mean spirited, accusatory comments. Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss and the other actors in the Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his. Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans.
I am so team Norton on this one. I know we’ve heard stories about how Norton is difficult to work with and egocentric, but even if it went down as Feige claims he shouldn’t have mentioned it publicly. It’s just unprofessional as Norton’s rep states.
I think the guy is hugely talented and hope that Marvel’s president issues an apology for talking so much smack. Again, whether it’s true or not it’s not something you say in a public statement.
In related Ed Norton news, he recently co-founded a social networking site to encourage people to get involved with charity.