When Marvel Studios announced back in July that "Incredible Hulk" star Edward Norton would not be returning as Bruce Banner, the subsequent public back-and-forth between Marvel, Norton's agent, and even Norton himself made the news one of this year's most discussed stories in the comic book movie world.
While Norton had long played coy about the possibility of reprising the role of Marvel's green-skinned behemoth, the way in which we got our answer came as a surprise to just about everyone — including Norton's director on "Incredible Hulk," Louis Leterrier.
I chatted with the "Clash Of The Titans" filmmaker before his appearance at Long Beach Comic Con a few weekends ago, and asked him for his take on the very public parting of Norton and Marvel's movie machine.
"It's funny, because I speak to Edward often and I speak to the Marvel guys often," Leterrier told MTV News. "I'm like you in that I don't know what happened there."
"Last time I talked to them about [directing] 'Avengers,' I didn't get the job and I knew it — because I was finishing 'Clash' and they needed to move forward," he added. "When I didn't get the job, I told Kevin Feige, 'You should definitely get Edward in the movie — he's fantastic and he brought so much to it!' And Kevin said, 'Yup, we're talking to him.'"
"So the talks were going on, and I thought, 'Great, this will happen,'" he explained. "I really don't know what happened in the end. In all honesty, I leave it between them."
Even so, Leterrier was quick to heap praise on Joss Whedon, the director who Marvel did end up choosing for "The Avengers," as well as the new actor playing Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo.
"Joss Whedon is absolutely fantastic, and so is Mark Ruffalo," he said, only to offer up a more candid assessment from the perspective of a fan of comic book movies, not a filmmaker. "I like the continuity as a fan when I go to see these movies, so as a fan, I don't like it when actors get changed — especially when they're that good."