While Norton was the first Bruce Banner in the Marvel Movie Universe – Eric Bana’s take on the character wasn’t part of the universe although personally speaking, he’s my favourite version – he’s since been replaced by Mark Ruffalo and has been very quiet ever since.
Although at the time, it was reportedly a very bitter break up between Marvel and Norton, with Norton’s people saying Marvel closed him out and Marvel saying Norton was very difficult and not a team player.
Now however, Norton is saying that it was a creative differences that caused him to leave, stating to NPR’s Fresh Air, that while he enjoyed the experience once, he didn’t want to repeatedly play the same thing and the schedule with Marvel would have limited him when it came to other roles.
“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. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters,” he said.
“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. And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn’t have made Moonrise Kingdom, or Grand Budapest, 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.”
Whatever the truth is, it seems universally agreed that Ruffalo is a better choice although, to be honest, the change always irked me when I’m watching the movies as a whole. But that’s just me…