In what is turning out to be a dramatic parting of the ways, Edward Norton‘s agent has issued a statement Marvel Studios confirmed the Academy Award nominee would not return as Bruce Banner in “The Avengers.”
Marvel Studios is going in a new direction for the Hulk. In a statement, Marvel CEO Kevin Feige said the decision was “rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.”
Norton’s agent, Brian Swardstrom of WME, is none too happy about that. He responds with his own statement:
“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 Comic-Con 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 [director] Joss Whedon to discuss the project. Edward and Joss had a very good meeting 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’s talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans.”
Stay tuned. We get the feeling this isn’t over.
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