The Edward Norton/Incredible Hulk Divorce

12 Jul

Edward Norton is one of those guys who really doesn’t seem to me like he has much range.

I’m not an expert and half of his movies, I haven’t seen – so it seems more likely that in this case, I simply don’t know what I’m talking about. He’s probably an awesome actor, and I simply lack the sophistication to grasp it.

He was really great in Fight Club, that’s for sure – but he was swimming in genius soup in that one. I don’t know if he’s capable of really stinking badly enough to overcome the greatness around him in it.

And you know, he was not particularly memorable in a lot of other films I’ve seen him in. The Italian Job just seems like he was wearing his smirk and talking to people, yelling a lot and gloating. In The Score – with Robert De Niro – he had an absolutely miserable time trying to channel Kevin Spacey, trying to pretend to be a guy pretending to have a disability.

In that case, he was a guy pretending to be mentally challenged for a decent slice of the movie. Again, let’s just say it looked like anybody pretending to do that – and there is no reason why the characters around him should have been convinced if I wasn’t.

So for me, he’s hit and miss. The best thing about him that I can think of, other than The Incredible Hulk and Fight Club, is that he looks a lot like my old pal Mark Renz.

He was really good as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk. I really liked the movie. But you know, it wasn’t called Bruce Banner – The Movie. It was called The Incredible Hulk.

The Incredible Hulk is computer generated. He’s twelve or fifteen feet tall and green and he isn’t real.

So it’s hard for me to imagine why I should care which Normal Guy he looks like, when he’s not The Hulk.

A quick read on Wikipedia supports – in whatever way we can say Wikipedia supports anything – the rumors I heard when The Incredible Hulk came out. The word was, Edward Norton got pretty comfortable putting his mitts all over the script.

He wanted the movie to be a bit longer than the producers wanted. They wanted to keep it under two hours. And although they’d let him rewrite a chunk of the script already, they told him, “No, Edward. We’re doing it this way.”

Edward Norton responded by refusing to participate in the marketing side of the film. For instance, he was in Africa doing charity work when it was released.

Sure, no one can knock him for doing charity work in Africa – in fact, I’d go so far as to say that sounds a little convenient, like a mob guy sitting in a public restaurant when his rival is whacked.

I of course do not know to what extent Norton hamstringed the marketing on that film and it did fine in the theaters. Couldn’t have been that bad.

But being on the wrong continent for the premiere – that sounds like he was being sort of a brat about it, doesn’t it? If we don’t do it my way, I’m taking my ball and I’m going to Africa to do charity work.

So now, The Avengers is in production, and all of these Marvel Comics movies we’ve been watching, like Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and (soon) Thor, are all going to converge on the Avengers franchise, and the announcement today was, Norton’s not going to be in it.

In fact the first article I read about it – here at Access Hollywood or Yahoo – says that he won’t reprise his role as The Incredible Hulk, which doesn’t seem quite right. He never played The Incredible Hulk. He played Bruce Banner.

That already sounds less interesting, when you say it like that, doesn’t it?

Kevin Feige, Marvels president of production – who was careful to phrase it properly, in terms of which character Norton played last time – was quoted in the same story as saying:

“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.”

He’s not asking too much money – we just want someone who is going to show up for the premiere and not be a crybaby if we decide to have a writer write the script instead of him.

It’s interesting – you couldn’t do that with Iron Man. You couldn’t just swap out Robert Downey Jr. and expect the same movie. He owned that role.

And they aren’t that different – a lot of Iron Man in his Iron Man suit has nothing to do with Robert Downey Jr. The main difference is, Bruce Banner is so normal and forgettable, while Tony Stark is flamboyantly neither of those things.

But Bruce Banner? Come on now. Jack from LOST could do it, even with his single, unchanging facial expression.

I think that Norton has this coming, and I think he grossly overestimated how much of an impact he personally made on The Incredible Hulk.

The folks at Marvel don’t seem to be having much trouble getting along with other Hollywood egos – just look at the quote up there. I can’t imagine Scarlett Johansson is the easiest person in the world to deal with on a daily basis, you know?

She’s not cheap, either. But she’s right up there on the list of people who can play well with others. Seems like there’s only one boy on the playground having trouble getting along with the rest of the gang.

I guess what I’m saying is, if Edward Norton is no longer Bruce Banner, then who really cares if he – or his agent – gets really, really angry about it?
By the way, this counts as The Rob Braithwaite Project, even though I haven’t spoken to Rob in weeks.


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