As the San Diego Comic-Con draws near, anticipation is building that "The Avengers" will be formally unveiled with Joss Whedon officially attached to direct Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury for the team's first feature film.
However, it now appears that Marvel has decided to recast the Hulk, leaving Ed Norton out of the lineup.
On Friday, Hitfix reported that Norton and Whedon had met about "The Avengers" movie and both seemed to be excited about the prospect of working together. Norton reportedly even went so-far as to clear his film schedule for "The Avengers" before he was informed that Marvel intended to recast his role.
Earlier today, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige released a statement to Hitfix, confirming the earlier report.
"We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers," wrote Feige. "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. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."
It's interesting to note that Feige seems to imply that Norton is not a player "who [thrives] as part of an ensemble" while also confirming that Scarlett Johansson will reprise her role as Black Widow within the film.
Last year, Norton told MTV News that he loved the idea of using the Hulk as a villain in "The Avengers" and seemed open to returning to the part.
Norton also argued that the director of the film should receive a "Dark Knight" level of creative control.
"The Avengers" will appear in theaters on Friday May 4, 2012.
What are your thoughts on Marvel's casting decision? Should Ed Norton have been allowed to return? Who should be the new Bruce Banner/Hulk? Control your gamma rays and let us know what you're thinking in the comment section or on Twitter!