The “Edward Norton Dumped By Marvel Drama” continues. We told you Saturday that Marvel Studios Kevin Feige confirmed that Norton would not be asked back to portray Bruce Banner in The Avengers and that the studio would be looking for someone “who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.” Could be innocuous, could be snarky, all depending on what you read into it.
Well, Edward Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom of WME, read into that Marvel was insulting his client. S0 he decided to respond, yesterday, to Drew McWeeny of Hitfix once again, to tell the Norton camp’s side of the story:
“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.
We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige’s mean spirited, accusatory comments. Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss 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.
Whew! First off, can we officially say the “Joss Whedon is directing The Avengers” announcement Marvel was saving for Comic-Con has been spoiled? Because it has.
Second, Feige’s announcement might have been a tad passive aggressive, but accusatory? Defamatory? I just don’t see that Harry. That leads me to possibly believe that this statement wasn’t 100% cleared with Norton. Who knows, it might have been, but it seems more like a knee jerk reaction than a metered, carefully considered response.
Swardstrom’s statement does seem to confirm McWeeny’s view on the previous meeting between Whedon and Norton. Which kind of makes you wonder where the buck will stop in this. Whose decision was it to bounce Norton? Was it Joss Whedon or Marvel? Or both? or someone else?
The only other question we need to ask is how far will this brouhaha go? There’s a lot of fanning the flames that could happen. Norton makes a statement, FWOOSH! Whedon makes a statement, FWOOSH! Feige is interviewed, FWOOSH! Norton is interviewed, FWOOSH! And so on.
This drama could be far from over. I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be more interesting than the actual film.