Edward Norton says his Hulk sequels would have been like 'The Dark Knight', but Marvel dropped him

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Edward Norton's Hulk (Credit: Universal)

Edward Norton just managed to get in – briefly – on the ground floor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring as Bruce Banner in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.

After the first Robert Downey Jr Iron Man movie, it was only the second film in the now hallowed series.

But according to Norton, he pitched two more Hulk movies to the studio that would have taken the Hulk in a 'dark' and brooding direction.

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He told The New York Times: “What Chris Nolan had done with Batman was going down a path that I aligned with: long, dark and serious.

“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.”

But the movie failed to light up the box office. Helmed by French director Louis Letterier, it made $236 million, less than half of what Iron Man made, and likely struggled to break even, with the critical response being similarly luke-warm.

(Credit: Universal)

And despite seeming to be on board with his 'Dark Knight' take on the Hulk, the studio eventually dropped Norton, and instead hired Mark Ruffalo for Avengers, but not before issuing a statement which felt like it was laying the blame for things not working out squarely at Norton's door.

“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,” Feige said.

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Of the way he was ousted, Norton added to the NYT: “Yeah, [that] was cheap. 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.”

As it turned out, even Ruffalo's roundly liked Hulk didn't get his own stand-alone Marvel movie anyway, instead only appearing in the Avengers movies, Captain America: Civil War and Thor Ragnarok, which blended elements of the Marvel 'Planet Hulk' storyline.

Norton would have made a good Nerd Hulk too, we reckon.