Edward Norton is The Hulk no more!

File this one in the “we could have seen this coming a mile off” category. Marvel have officially announced that Edward Norton will not reprise the role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in their upcoming superhero team-up flick The Avengers.

Hitflix originally reported that Marvel were going to cast an unknown in the role formerly inhabited by Norton (and Eric Bana before him). Kevin Feige at Marvel confirmed the rumour soon after by releasing this statement:

“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. 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. 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.”

Norton’s manager Brian Swardstrom sent Hitflix his response to Marvel’s announcement.

“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.”

At this time there is no official statement on the matter from Norton.

Rumours of Norton not returning for The Avengers stretch back to before The Incredible Hulk even reached cinemas. The actor is famous for his “prickly” working relationship with directors, and the same is supposedly true of his dealings with his Hulk director Louis Letterier. You can read all about it over at Slashfilm.

Hopefully we will know more about Norton’s replacement when The Avengers‘ (soon-to-be-confirmed) director Joss Whedon and cast take to the stage at Comic-Con.

Discuss: Should Marvel have held onto Norton for the role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk?

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