Hitfix reported yesterday that Marvel will be looking to recast the role of Bruce Banner in the upcoming The Avengers film, replacing Edward Norton with an unknown actor.
Knee-jerk reaction would lead you to believe that the blame should be placed directly on Norton’s shoulders. But according to Hitfix’s Dew McWeeny, who draws from interviews with Norton and information from his sources, Norton was interested, if not excited, about reprising the role. The actor met with director Joss Whedon and according McWeeny’s sources, that meeting went exceedingly well and Norton was rumored to be keeping his schedule clear to accommodate shooting the film.
Well, something happened between then and now because it appears that Norton is out. Mc Weeny assumes that since Marvel is going with a cheaper unknown, that the problem is a matter of money, which McWeeny thinks is silly because he believes Norton would settle for a smaller salary to be able to do the movie.
The reason that this rumor is treated so seriously is because Marvel already showed they would replace an actor with another when salary is an issue. They replaced Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle as James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, and monetary demands were rumored to be one of the reasons.
However, that was a case of replacing an Oscar-nominated, lead-caliber actor with another Oscar-nominated, lead-caliber actor. Replacing Norton with a cheaper unknown might make financial sense, but not be the best way to present your project to an audience.
Of course, this is all speculation at this point. Marvel hasn’t even confirmed Whedon as director on the project yet. If this is real, the reasons could range anywhere from Norton wanting more money to him not being happy with the size of the role in the film to Whedon wanting to cast Alan Tudyk as Bruce Banner. Or it could just be a negotiating tactic to bring Norton in on the cheap. Sources say that we might find out the answers at San Diego Comic-Con. We’ll see then. Maybe.