The Marvel Cinematic Universe is home to a wide range of films, and The Incredible Hulk holds a special place within it. While Edward Norton portrayed the Hulk character only once, Tim Roth returned as Abomination in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and the first Shang-Chi film.
When The Avengers was released in 2012, Marvel Studios decided to replace Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo, who brought his own unique take to The Green Goliath.
Although The Incredible Hulk didn’t achieve significant financial success, earning around $265 million worldwide, it still garnered a favorable response from audiences.
The casting change surprised viewers who enjoyed the film, as they had expected continuity. However, there were different factors at play behind the scenes that led to this decision.
Why did Edward Norton stop playing the Hulk?
Ahead of Comic-Con International 2010, there were rumors circulating that Marvel intended to replace Edward Norton for The Avengers movie, which aimed to bring together all the revealed heroes.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed this rumor in a statement from the set of Captain America: The First Avenger. Feige explained that their decision was not driven by financial factors but rather by the need for an actor who would fit well with the creative and collaborative spirit of the other talented cast members.
Norton’s representative responded strongly, finding Marvel’s comments offensive and accusing them of purposefully portraying their client in a negative light. In a 2014 interview, Norton himself offered a different explanation for his departure. He stated that he had fulfilled his desired experience with the role and did not want to be tied to a single character in a way that could diminish his effectiveness as an actor in portraying other diverse characters.
How did Mark Ruffalo become Hulk?
Despite Edward Norton’s higher level of fame compared to Mark Ruffalo, director Louis Leterrier actually preferred Ruffalo for the role of The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk.
At the time, Ruffalo was not as well-established as Norton, but Leterrier saw potential in him. It was a departure from the convention of casting highly recognizable actors for Phase One of Marvel films.
Ruffalo went on to portray Bruce Banner and The Hulk in multiple Avengers movies, as well as Thor: Ragnarok and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. However, Ruffalo has openly stated that he will not have a standalone Incredible Hulk movie. As Universal Pictures still holds distribution rights.