So Drew McWeeny of HitFix reported earlier that Marvel has decided not to cast Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and The Hulk in 2012’s “The Avengers”.
At first, my reaction mirrored that of hundreds of fans who commented on the various news articles that spawned from the report. Ever since I watched Fight Club and Keeping the Faith, I’ve been a huge fan of the talented actor and I definitely enjoyed his take on “The Incredible Hulk”. Replacing him in “The Avengers” with “an unknown” was definitely a step in the wrong direction, or so Drew would have me believe.
As the comments wore on, I started to realise that the Hitfix article was particularly loaded to incite such unhappiness in fans, and only one or two tried to look objectively at the whole situation.
So here’s my take on the whole situation, hopefully from the standpoint of an objective Avengers fan.
Firstly, Drew was hardly subtle about how he felt about the whole situation. Firstly, he painted Edward Norton as being eager to reprise the role, even going so far as to meeting all but locked-in director Joss Whedon to discuss his potential role and then clearing his schedule in case of the call up.
Then, with the same brushstroke, he painted Marvel as being shrewd but ultimately miserly corporation, hoping to save as much as they can by scrimping on casting costs. Clearly, Marvel has no clue how much damage they’re doing to their movie franchise, Drew would have you know. They’re dropping the ball by dropping Norton. “The Avengers” is being short-changed by not casting one of this generation’s greatest actors.
I won’t deny a word Drew has said – his points are not only based on Norton’s acting ability and the depth he can bring to any film, but on the stain it’ll put on “The Avengers” continuity by recasting Hulk yet again.
The truth of the matter is, however, having The Hulk as part of “The Avengers” is focusing too much on their origin story and ignoring the fact that the Hulk left the team soon after (in issue #2) and returned as a villain in issues #3 and #5. In other words, there might never be a need to show Hulk as Bruce Banner, which would effectively make casting Ed Norton the value equivalent of a No-Prize – good to have but otherwise serving little purpose.
That is, assuming “The Avengers” movie is even going to have any similarity to their comic book. The casting of Samuel L. Jackson and the multiple references to the “Avengers Initiative” clearly imply that the movie is more likely to go the way of the Ultimates. I’m personally not entirely happy with that, but I can see how Mark Millar’s creations are more plausible in reality, and I will take a wait-and-see approach, especially to the treatments of Thor and Captain America next year.
I’m honestly not too bummed about Norton not being in the Avengers movie – at this point in time. With Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson and even Scarlett Johansson (not to mention the rumoured casting of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye) already fighting for limited screen time, I’m just happy that Norton isn’t there to further crowd the plot. Joss Whedon does team stories extremely well, but Hulk just isn’t a team player to begin with.