Why Marvel picked Norton over Ruffalo for 2008's Incredible Hulk

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May 29, 2013, 9:18 AM EDT

We’ve heard for a while now that Mark Ruffalo was actually on the shortlist to play Bruce Banner in 2008’s Incredible Hulk. So why did Marvel pass over the eventual Avengers star for Edward Norton?

In a revealing interview with The Huffington Post, director Louis Leterrier said he actually wanted to cast Ruffalo for the part, but the studio pushed for Norton (who, as we all know, was replaced with Ruffalo to fantastic effect in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers).

According to Leterrier, it was apparently because Norton was more famous and Ruffalo hadn’t proven he had the action chops to pull off a character like the Hulk. Arguably one of Marvel's few missteps in Phase 1.

Here’s an excerpt from Leterrier's interview:

“When people are asking me, because Mark Ruffalo is in this one, who's the better of the Bruce Banners -- both are great; both are fantastic -- but I actually wanted to cast Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Marvel was like ‘No, you should get Edward Norton because he's more famous.’ So you see what I am saying? They are the ones who wanted Edward -- and I was thrilled to meet him and work with him. I wanted Mark Ruffalo. And they were like, ‘No, no, he just does smart, intellectual movies.’ Which makes sense, then and there in his career. But that's how I know him. We've stayed in touch and it's why he said "absolutely" when I offered him the part in this one.”

It’s interesting to look back and wonder how The Incredible Hulk might’ve turned out with Ruffalo in the lead role. Norton did an admirable job with the character, but Ruffalo knocked it out of the park.

Do you think Ruffalo’s presence could’ve made a difference?

(Via Huffington Post)