The 2008 film "The Incredible Hulk" was the second film in setting up the MCU.

It has a post credit scene where Tony Stark meets General Ross for a possible candidature for Hulk as a part of the Avengers.

But then Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo to play the role of Bruce Banner. Why?

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    I'm just glad we got Ruffalo instead. Norton's an amazing actor, no question, but for me Ruffalo's a better fit. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 11:07
  • Just wanted to point out, that while we thought that post-credits scene was about getting Hulk into the Avengers, the one-shot The Consultant that was released much later revealed that to not be the case. I won't spoil it for you here, in case you want to see for yourself.
    – Paul L
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 13:50
  • Personally I think Norton was a much better fit.
    – Wade
    Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


He allegedly didn't get along well with others

We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.
- Kevin Feige talking to Hitflix

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    There are, of course two sides to every story :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 19:56
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    Norton's agent says that they actually offered him the part and referred to Feige's comments as "mean spirited" and "accusatory"
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 20:01
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    Edward Norton's response was that this comment was a "cheap and unnecessary representation that [the decision] was about things other than money." and that "at the end of the day it was just flat out a business decision”, referring to their comments as "low, unprofessional, and very dishonest.”
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 20:04
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    Who's Kevin Feige? A producer? (I'll just google it, but it would be good to have it in the answer) Ah: Producer and President of Marvel Studios (and apparently kind of a jerk)
    – Xen2050
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 7:24
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    The thing is, these could both be true. Norton was prioritizing things that meant he wasn't willing to do what the studio felt they needed. So they found someone equally good who would. Feige's comment has a lot of spin, but so does Norton's. If nothing else, "I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences." doesn't sound exactly like "flat out a business decision".
    – deworde
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 9:19

Ed Norton spoke to this issue in an interview with NPR. The very short answer is that he deeply disliked the "roadshow" aspect of marketing a major tentpole film and wasn't willing to compromise.

“My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet, I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films but then especially putting them out, and the obligations that rightly come with that."

He also stated that he feared becoming type-cast.

"There were just a lot of things—I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters. I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times, it can become a suit that’s hard to take off, in other peoples’ eyes. And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn’t have made Moonrise Kingdom, or Grand Budapest, or Birdman, because those all overlapped with [Avengers]. And those were more the priority for me, but I continue to be a fan and I’m really, really happy I got to do it once.”

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    @MasonWheeler - Personally I can understand his thinking. The after-marketing for these films can last months, during which time you're basically excluded from having any free time, nor working on any other projects. If you factor in the follow up films, you're basically making these your career for the next 7 years if you sign a three film deal
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:15
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    So then how did Mark Ruffalo pull it off? How did Robert Downey Jr. find the time to be Sherlock Holmes twice while he was also being Tony Stark? Or Scarlett Johansson and that awful thing about unlocking her brain's potential whose name I can't recall at the moment? (Not to mention Jim Caviezel doing multiple movies while starring in a lead role in Person of Interest, just off the top of my head.) It would seem that your theory is contradicted by observable evidence. Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:20
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    @MasonWheeler - I'm not saying that you can't do the occasional role in between your obligations, just that during the pre-release phase, it's a 3 to 6 month extravaganza of worldwide interviews, trips, press-junkets. As compared to a normal film release where you basically do a few weeks and that's it. Also, all the people you're describing are well known workaholics.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:30
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    @BronDavies - Christopher Lee spent decades trying to get away from his typecasting, to the point that he traveled to another continent and starred in any old rubbish just so that people would stop talking about his being Dracula; telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/8316999/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 15:28
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    @Omegacron - Birdman won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, is critically acclaimed, has a 92% on RottenTomatoes and was a strong financial success, netting 8 times its production budget. If that's not your idea of a cinematic masterpiece, I really don't know what is.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 21:00

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