Marvel madness ensues! Norton out as Hulk. Is Phoenix in?
By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Another day, another series of rumors circulating around Marvel’s planned production of a full-blown Avengers movie.
For those who chose not to log on to the internet this weekend, you might have missed the news that Edward Norton — the actor who most recently played The Hulk on screen — would not be invited back to play the green monster in “The Avengers.” Marvel’s head honcho Kevin Feige told HitFix that the studio’s 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.”
The next day, Norton’s people responded. Brian Swardstrom of WME responded to Feige’s “offensive” statement by saying they were negotiating in good faith with Marvel before the studio pulled the plug. “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,” Swardstrom told Hitfix. “Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with [director] Joss [Whedon] 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.”
Feeling were hurt. Egos were bruised. Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny and Movie City News’ David Poland had a nasty little Twitter slap fight. But at the end of the day, Norton was going to be replaced — much like Eric Bana was replaced — before “The Avengers” started shooting. (Oh, with Joss Whedon at the helm … a bit of news that was previously unconfirmed but seems set in stone now.)
I thought it would be awhile before we learned who would replace Norton. Marvel apparently has other ideas. We know the studio wants to make a big splash at Comic-Con, which is right around the corner. Now CHUD is reporting that the studio has made an offer to Joaquin Phoenix to take to Hulk role.
Triple ouch. Isn’t Phoenix retired? Didn’t he swear off acting while growing a chest-length beard, modeling sunglasses and perfecting the fine art of Gangster Rap?
Seriously, this story can’t get any stranger. Yet, with Comic-Con on the horizon, I’m beginning to think we’ve only scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more updates as they happen.