EXCLUSIVE: Back on July 14th, I scooped that Mark Ruffalo Is In Late-Stage Talks To Be Marvel’s New Hulk in ‘The Avengers’. Now I’ve just learned the ink is drying on the deal reached by Brillstein Entertainment Partners with Marvel. (There’s no official confirmation yet from Marvel whose reps aren’t available for their usual “No comment”.) So it looks like Marvel movie mastermind Kevin Feige may pull this off and bring Ruffalo along with other of The Avengers superheroes and director Joss Whedon to tomorrow night’s panel at Comic-Con.
Of course, imagine the Hollywood actor whom you’d least expect to play The Incredible Hulk in The Avengers, and maybe, just maybe, you’d come up with the Ruffalo’s name. He’s always been an actor’s actor and is getting critical raves in Focus Features’ The Kids Are All Right which opened this month. Ruffalo, of course, replaced Edward Norton who replaced Eric Bana as Hulk. Marvel made a pittance of an offer to Edward Norton to continue in the role. But it caught the actor by surprise that the studio decided to replace him altogether with no advance warning. Like Norton, Ruffalo would bring real chops to the role. But, unlike Norton, he won’t be an on-set asshole.
Remember everything that went on in 2008 when Marvel and Norton were privately and publicly feuding over the remake of The Incredible Hulk, details of which I scooped back then? Eventually they settled their issues after clashing over how to cut the $150+ million pic. But what was released was Marvel’s cut of the movie, not Norton’s. Now remember that Norton was promised big involvement and access after Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel invited the actor into the core team to rewrite Zak Penn’s script. But, in the end, Marvel ignored Norton’s ideas about how to cut the film. Even the film’s director, Louis Leterrier, joined with Norton to lobby for a longer, more detailed, more character-driven film while Marvel Studios wanted a faster, leaner one.
Sure, Norton has a difficult reputation. And he never does a lot of publicity for pics. But, basically, Marvel found him to be a pill. At the same, Marvel’s Maisel acted like a jerk. I always thought the studio would recast. Now they have.