Edward Norton: Don't believe Marvel—it was all about $$$

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

You wouldn't want to get Ed Norton angry. That's because the actor, who took on the role of Bruce Banner in the 2008 version of The Incredible Hulk, will fight back. No, he can't swing his fists, like his green-hued alter ego. But he can sure point his fingers!

Norton has recently countered criticism that he cannot work as a team player, lobbied at him by Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige.

If you've been following the news, you'll know that when it came time to recast Bruce Banner in the upcoming movie The Avengers, Feige said that Norton was not the superhero they were looking for:

"Our decision is ... 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 ..."

Now Norton, who has won multiple awards for acting, has defended his work ethic by calling his un-hiring merely a business decision:

"The thing that was disingenuous about some of the stuff that had gone on is it was a very professional and very respectful business situation. We really couldn't work it out on a business level. ... I have no idea why anybody tried to characterize it as anything other than that kind of a decision, which is absolutely what it was."

Norton's response was businesslike, considering that Feige's decision cost him the role. Norton's agent, Brian Swardstrom of WME, has also weighed in, albeit with a little less class and more crass:

"This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light. ... We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige's mean-spirited, accusatory comments."

As a side note, Norton only took the role of Bruce Banner on the condition that he contributed to the script. Perhaps when Feige said Marvel wanted team players, he actually meant he only wanted actors who wouldn't demand any creative control?