More than a decade ago, when Marvel was still trying to perfect the translating of their comics into movies, The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton made $263 million worldwide when it was released in the summer of 2008.
In addition to starring as Hulk's non-CGI form (better known as Bruce Banner) Norton also helped rewrite the script, and he was rumored to have been unhappy by final tonal and narrative alterations he disagreed with.
On that subject, Norton gave a wide-ranging interview to The New York Times. And during that interview he clarified that he would've preferred to go the route that Christopher Nolan ended up going down for his Batman movies. Norton said that the Marvel brass was originally behind the idea, but eventually it was abandoned.
“What Chris Nolan had done with Batman was going down a path that I aligned with: long, dark and serious," Norton said. "If there was ever a thing that I thought had that in it, it was the Hulk. It’s literally the Promethean myth. I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip. And they were like, ‘That’s what we want!’ As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted. But I had a great time doing it. I got on great with Kevin Feige.”
Interestingly enough, Norton had expressed reverence for Nolan's superhero flicks in relation to Marvel's while presenting at the 2018 Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis. After all it was there that he said "I tried to be like you. I did a big action movie called The Incredible Hulk. You know what went wrong? I wanted a better script. I thought we should try to make one Marvel movie that was as good as the worst Chris Nolan movie, but what the hell was I thinking?”
Norton was eventually dropped from the Hulk role, with Mark Ruffalo being the actor who was signed to portray the character in a series of films, ranging from Avengers to Thor: Ragnarok, that connected the Marvel Universe.
As for Marvel's statement on that change, at the time they said:
“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.”
Norton confirmed to The Times that he thought that was a weak statement, not that it matters now.
“Yeah, [that] was cheap,” he said. “It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter.
“We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would’ve taken, and I wasn’t going to do that. I honestly would’ve wanted more money than they’d have wanted to pay me. But that’s not why I would’ve wanted to do another Hulk movie anyway…I’m saying that Kevin had an idea of a thing that you could do, and it was remarkable. Now it didn’t happen to be on a tonal, thematic level what I wanted to spend my time doing.”
You can go read the whole interview by heading here.