Since 2008, Edward Norton has not played the Hulk. Is it possible that some of Marvel’s current ‘What If…?’ narrative experiments will allow him to reprise his role as the Hulk? Keep reading to find out.
‘The Incredible Hulk’, directed by Louis Leterrier, introduced Bruce Banner/Hulk to the MCU, but due to rights issues, any future solo films featuring the character have been ruled out, so he’s only appeared in team-up roles since then, whether in ‘The Avengers’ movies or other solo films like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. William Hurt, who later became Secretary Ross beginning with ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (and most recently in ‘Black Widow’), and Tim Roth, who returns as Emil Blonsky/The Abomination in ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’, as well as the upcoming ‘She-Hulk’ series on Disney+, are the only actors from the 2008 film to have continued in the MCU thus far.
- A.C. Bradley jokes on replacing Mark Ruffalo with Edward Norton
- It seems that Ruffalo reprising the role as the Hulk is a probability
A.C. Bradley jokes on replacing Mark Ruffalo with Edward Norton
In an interview with Discussing Film, Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ writer A.C. Bradley joked that if current Hulk Mark Ruffalo wasn’t available, he’d bring back Edward Norton to voice Bruce Banner in episode 3. The episode takes place in a reality where most of ‘The Avengers’ founding members never form, with a dramatically different conclusion than ‘The Incredible Hulk’s’ Culver University sequence. Ruffalo, on the other hand, was free and agreed to provide the voice.
He said, “I’ve seen ‘The Incredible Hulk’ probably three or four times. I love the bottle chase sequence in the beginning. We wanted to make sure that with all three movies we pulled iconic moments that people would recognize. So for ‘The Incredible Hulk’, it was the Culver University fight scene. We wanted to use, if possible, the fight in Harlem. But the Culver one lends itself better to the story, so we went there. I did joke early on, if we can’t get Ruffalo back are we going to ask Norton? And I was told that Mark Ruffalo already agreed to do the show. He’s a very lovely human being, and he was great. He came in, had fun, and you really can’t get a better Hulk than Mark Ruffalo”.
It seems that Ruffalo reprising the role as ‘The Hulk’ is a probability
While the controversy surrounding Norton’s departure from the role remains unsolved, Ruffalo has made good on his promise to play the Hulk, appearing in five MCU films so far. Unfortunately, with Universal owning the rights to a standalone Hulk film, it’s unlikely that Ruffalo will reprise his role as the Hulk. He does, however, appear in the Disney+ ‘She-Hulk’ series with Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters, indicating that he hasn’t yet retired his gamma-rays.
While Bradley’s remarks were intended to be humorous, the irony of considering the potential of a show called ‘What If…?’ is not lost on the scenario. Since ‘The Incredible Hulk’, Norton has worked on a variety of projects, and while he may not have worked with Marvel Studios from the start, it’s interesting thinking how his Bruce Banner would have featured in subsequent MCU flicks. Ruffalo has done an incredible job as the character, and it’s difficult to see anyone else in the role at this point, but it’s the only big recast in the MCU timeline, ‘What If…?’
Ruffalo will next be seen in Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’, while Norton will next be seen in ‘She-Hulk’.