The Marvel Cinematic Universe very rarely puts a foot wrong when it comes to casting major roles, but Kevin Feige would definitely admit that hiring Edward Norton to play Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk turned out to be the wrong call in hindsight.
Norton might be one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, but he’s also got a reputation for becoming heavily involved in the writing and post-production of his movies, whether that’s part of his contract or not. The split between the actor and Marvel was bitter, with Mark Ruffalo announced as his replacement in The Avengers without so much as a heads up for his predecessor.
However, new book The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe via ScreenRant reveals that director Louis Letterier wanted Ruffalo for the role all along. In fact, the filmmaker admitted that he thought he’d landed him for Bruce Banner, before discovering shortly afterwards that the plans had fallen through.
“One day Mark was cast, and then over a weekend, he was not. It tore my heart.”
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At least it worked out for Ruffalo in the long run, even if Norton and Leterrier were both consigned to the one-and-done scrapheap, with any mention or acknowledgement of The Incredible Hulk‘s existence erased from MCU canon for almost a decade until William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross returned in Captain America: Civil War.