For all the studio’s success, the one franchise character Marvel has struggled with is the Hulk. After failing with 2003 iteration “The Hulk” starring Eric Bana and directed by Ang Lee, the studio hoped the combination of Louis Leterrier and star Edward Norton could do the trick with 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” Even with Robert Downey Jr. popping his head in for a final stinger at the end, the film has been largely forgotten. So Norton’s dalliance with the Marvel-verse, a rare excursion into blockbuster land for the actor, came to an end. And it was one he looks back on reflectively.
“My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet, I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films but then especially putting them out, and the obligations that rightly come with that. There were just a lot of things —I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences,” the actor told NPR (via EW).
It should be remembered that Marvel offered the opportunity to Norton to come back for “The Avengers,” which he declined. And in a weird PR move that it’s hard to imagine Marvel indulging in now, they sideline jabbed the actor publicly, saying he lacked a “collaborative spirit.” But Norton wanted more than to be locked into Marvel’s tentpole worldbuilding.
“Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way [that might] degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters. I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times, it can become a suit that’s hard to take off, in other peoples’ eyes,” he added. “And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn’t have made ‘Moonrise Kingdom,‘ or ‘Grand Budapest [Hotel],’ or ‘Birdman,’ because those all overlapped with [‘Avengers’]. And those were more the priority for me, but I continue to be a fan and I’m really, really happy I got to do it once.”
It’s a diplomatic, reasonable assessment from the actor, and one wonders if his feelings as such influenced his decision to join Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s film. “Birdman” centers on an actor trying desperately to escape his persona and career being defined by a superhero role. Norton plays the method actor he comes up against, and one wonders if was an opportunity to face his own past, cinematically speaking. Thoughts? Let us know below.