Edward Norton has opened up about his short stint as the Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his relationship with Kevin Feige, and what his future as the character would have looked like. Norton starred in The Incredible Hulk, the second movie in the MCU, but didn't return for a sequel or The Avengers, ultimately paving the way for Mark Ruffalo to take over as Bruce Banner. Now, Norton has discussed the situation in detail.
This came as part of a recent profile in honor of Edward Norton and his new directorial effort Motherless Brooklyn. To kick things off, Norton was asked if he thought his views on the movie business were destined to cause friction with the brass at Marvel. Here's what he had to say about it.
"Well, no. I loved the 'Hulk' comics. I believed they were very mythic. And what Chris Nolan had done with Batman was going down a path that I aligned with: long, dark and serious. If there was ever a thing that I thought had that in it, it was the Hulk. It's literally the Promethean myth. I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip. And they were like,'That's what we want!' As it turned out, that wasn't what they wanted. But I had a great time doing it. I got on great with Kevin Feige."
At the time, things were tense with the Hulk situation. At one point, Marvel Studios released a press release, in which, Kevin Feige said they wanted to find someone who "embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members" for The Avengers. However, Edward Norton goes out of his way to make sure it's clear he got along with Feige and respects his vision, while also calling that specific press release cheap.
"Yeah, which was cheap. It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren't going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn't matter. We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would've taken, and I wasn't going to do that. I honestly would've wanted more money than they'd have wanted to pay me. But that's not why I would've wanted to do another 'Hulk' movie anyway. I went and did all the other things I wanted to do, and what Kevin Feige has done is probably one of the best executions of a business plan in the history of the entertainment industry. As a Disney shareholder, you should be on your feet for what they pulled off."
Despite whatever creative disagreements existed, it's hard to argue against the results. The MCU has generated more than $22.5 billion at the box office since its inception. For what it's worth, The Incredible Hulk remains the lowest-grossing entry to date. Edward Norton refused to comment on whether or not he likes the MCU movies, but did clarify some comments he made, which were aimed at Marvel, during the Comedy Central roast of Bruce Willis.
"I'm not going to comment on that. I'm saying that Kevin had an idea of a thing that you could do, and it was remarkable. Now it didn't happen to be on a tonal, thematic level what I wanted to spend my time doing. Conflating that into a fight or a judgement is grotesque. Picking fights between other people for clickbait is grotesque. I'm not being hyperbolic. It's part of what's problematic in our country. We are letting ourselves be polluted by fake fights manufactured by other people for other agendas. Whether it's Russians manipulating us into intense arguments with one another over fabricated [expletive] or stupid entertainment journalism trying to get clicks.
It's like, I did Bruce Willis's Comedy Central roast, and I made a joke at my expense. I talked about how I tried to do what Bruce did and make a big movie but I was an idiot because I tried to make the script better. Here's the actual joke: 'I tried to be like you. I did a big action movie called 'The Incredible Hulk.' You know what went wrong? I wanted a better script.' This is a joke making fun of myself but they'll turn it into, like, 'Edward takes a dig at Marvel.' No, I'm taking a dig at myself at a roast. People have to grow up."
Ultimately, the MCU has yet to have another solo Hulk movie, which has to do, in part, with a rights issue involving Universal. In any event, the circumstances surrounding this situation are far more clear thanks to these comments. Edward Norton seems to harbor no ill will toward Kevin Feige, at least not on the level it was made out previously. This news comes to us via The New York Times.