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Why Was Edward Norton Replaced as Hulk Despite Being More Bankable Than Robert Downey Jr. Before His Iron Man Success?

Why Was Edward Norton Replaced as Hulk Despite Being More Bankable Than Robert Downey Jr. Before His Iron Man Success?

3-time Academy Award nominee, Edward Norton is famed for featuring in great movies. The timeless cult-classic Fight Club and Primal Fear for which he was nominated thrice, and even won a Golden Globe Award, for actor in a supporting role. Norton is complimented for his wide range of acting as he has played a variety of characters in his career. In 2008 he starred in The Incredible Hulk as Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk. Although the movie wasn’t a huge success with $265 million dollars worldwide, the audience was shocked to notice the switch in the actors when the Hulk appeared in The Avengers. 

Edward Norton as Dr Bruce Banner
Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner

Why was Edward Norton Replaced?

Edward Norton and the Director Louis Leterrier had an issue with the producers over the runtime of the movie which was cut short by 23 minutes, Norton was missing in many of the promotional events of the film early on. Norton was also rumored to be a hidden writer for the movie along with Zak Penn.

Edward Norton's Hulk.
Edward Norton’s Hulk

Shortly after, The President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige mentioned the requirements for Hulk to be somewhat different from what they already have. “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.” 

Read also: Major Character From Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk Will Make MCU Debut in $2.2 Billion Captain America Franchise

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After these statements, Norton’s agent was especially upset and spoke to defend the actor’s respect. However, Norton was amicable but adamant about splitting ways with Marvel and mentioned that his roles in Birdman and Moonrise Kingdom would oppose the loud and extravagant role in the MCU. He was also humble about Mark Ruffalo getting the role in the first edition of The Avengers. All-in-all, Marvel Studios wanted a different type of actor in the future of Hulk and the Avengers as a whole.

Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk

Professor Hulk in Avengers: Endgame
Professor Hulk in Avengers: Endgame

In 2012, the first edition of The Avengers was out it had a lineup of Marvel’s superheroes like Iron Man, Thor, and The Hulk. Mark Ruffalo replaced Norton due to disagreements with the production company and so did Marvel studios. This initiated a recast in the role, despite Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark appeared in the end credits scene of The Incredible Hulk, essentially meaning that there had been plans for Edward Norton to continue as Bruce Banner in the movies to follow.

Read Also: Mark Ruffalo Became Uncomfortable Facing Edward Norton After Replacing Him as The Hulk: “I didn’t talk to him”


Ruffalo mentions on The Jimmy Fallon Show that he was very humbled to play the role and was a little nervous when he got the call for the cast.

He mentions:

” I didn’t know what I could add to what I already thought had been done so well before me. And I had only been doing indie movies up to that point so I was like I don’t know if I am the right person for this role.”

Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo
Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo

Read also: Hulk Star Edward Norton, Joe Rogan Agree Marvel Only Gives Major Roles To RDJ and Chris Hemsworth

Co-star Robert Downey Jr. also mentioned on The Joe Rogan Podcast that Mark Ruffalo is born for the role and had done a splendid job at playing the giant green superhero.

It is also understood that Mark Ruffalo was the director, Letterrier’s initial choice to be cast in the stand-alone movie. But since Edward Norton had a more prolific persona in Hollywood at the time, Marvel studios had to go with Norton. But due to the mega success of the Avengers franchise, Mark Ruffalo will always be Bruce Banner in the eyes of many fans. But the fans still wait for a Ruffalo starrer Hulk solo movie.


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Written by Nirmaan Godamkar