Marvel Studios is looking to replace Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk in their upcoming super-team movie, The Avengers, according to this article by Drew McWeeny at HitFix, and I want to be one of the legion of people who screams at Marvel because Norton’s perfect for the role.
The Incredible Hulk‘s reviews didn’t set the world on fire, but it made plenty of money at the box office, earning $134.5 million in the summer of 2008, and the general consensus was positive in regard to Norton’s portrayal of an on-the-run Dr. Bruce Banner. He’s got the soft-spoken good guy role down, and if you look at him, he IS Banner. And that transformation into the Hulk toward the end of the movie, which could have looked cheese-tastic, made it seem like Banner was actually in pain and it worked as drama. That alone should be enough to get Norton locked up again for The Avengers.
As always with Marvel, this type of thing comes down to money, but I know if I was running a movie studio, I’d want as many big names headlining my movie as possible. With Robert Downey, Jr., being the only household name among the Avengers actors (I’m willing to bet the majority of American movie-goers wouldn’t be able to pick Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth from a lineup), having Norton take second billing as perhaps the Jekyll/Hyde villain would be a great move.
However, the current plan is to cast an unknown as the third big-screen Hulk in the last 10 years. That may save a few dollars during production, Marvel, but I’m willing to bet it’ll cost you a hefty hunk of change when the box office receipts come in. Sure, The Avengers will make a bunch of money, but if you stick with Norton, you’ll not only have the right man for the job, but a better chance of being the biggest movie of the year.