The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: Edward Norton In THE INCREDIBLE HULK 2 - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Marvel Superhero Films That Never Were: Edward Norton In THE INCREDIBLE HULK 2

When they didn't make him angry. Again...

Whilst doing the rounds to promote the release of 2008s The Incredible Hulk, the second installment in the newly formed Marvel Cinematic Universe, Edward Norton was asked about the possibility of a sequel.
"The whole thing was to envision it in multiple parts. We left a lot out on purpose. [The Incredible Hulk is] definitely intended as chapter one."
Norton, who had reportedly beat both David Duchovny and Mark Ruffalo to the part of Bruce Banner, was heavily involved in the production of the first MCU Hulk film, rewriting the script and often spending hours with co-star Liv Tyler (who played Betty Ross) discussing their characters' lives outside of the filmed scenes. Norton's extensive input on the project seemed to be quite vital to director Louis Letterier,
"Admittedly I'm not the most adult director, [but] Edward's script has given Bruce's story real gravitas. Ed and I both see superheroes as the new Greek gods."
Although at the time of filming The Incredible Hulk, the MCU team-up/crossover movie, 2012s The Avengers, had not been confirmed, the intention was always there for the Hulk to appear in The Avengers (if this film and Iron Man proved to be successful), it just hadn't been decided if it would be the Hulk sequel or The Avengers film that would be produced first. If it was The Avengers then there was a potential concept that the Hulk would be the central villain in the story, the catalyst to bring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye & Black Widow together, in an attempt to stop his rampaging and, eventually, recruit him to the team to fight a bigger threat in The Avengers 2. But, again, during filming on The Incredible Hulk in 2007/8, none of this had been decided.

With all this in mind, Leterrier and Norton decided to make the film's final shot of Bruce Banner ambiguous; the thought being that if The Avengers goes ahead first, and they want to make the Hulk the antagonist, then the shot indicates that Banner becomes a menace. If a sequel to The Incredible Hulk takes place first, or the Hulk-villain storyline is vetoed, then it would mean Banner finally masters control over his anger.

For what seems to have been presumed to be the inevitable sequel to The Incredible Hulk, the character of Samuel Sterns, played by Tim Blake Nelson, was introduced in The Incredible Hulk, primarily to set him up as a villain in a possible sequel, where he would become the Leader. Nelson was signed to reprise the role at the time of contracting for the first film, and Letterier had the movie's lead designer, Aaron Sims, work on concepts for the Leader.

Ty Burrell spoke about his excitement to portray the superpowered Doc Samson faithfully to the comics, should the sequel go ahead, and Leterrier filmed a scene for the credits (which was ultimately cut) showing Tim Roth's Emil Blonsky, human once more, imprisoned and chained in a box. The reason being, Roth was also contracted to return for a second Marvel Cinematic Universe feature. But it might not have been The Incredible Hulk 2. That bigger threat that The Avengers recruit the Hulk to battle in their movie sequel was originally conceived as being the Abomination. Yes, if Marvel ha taken a different route with their Cinematic Universe, Roth would've been the antagonist in the film that eventually became Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

The Incredible Hulk was released in June 2008. Out-grossing its predecessor, the standalone 2003 take on The Hulk, distributors Universal Pictures confirmed interest in a sequel. In October that year Marvel's Kevin Feige confirmed that The Incredible Hulk had met Marvel's expectations and that Hulk would return, but after The Avengers.

A week later, producer Gale Anne Hurd stated that Norton was contracted to reprise the role. Hurd also felt unconcerned that the sequel may not enter production until at least 2012, citing the Terminator series with the second and third films having a 12-year gap.

The following year, Tim Roth revealed that Marvel had extended his contract and now had him signed for three more films, and director Louis Leterrier, who had previously said he did not want to direct a sequel, had a public change of mind, confirming in late 2009 that he was now amenable.

So, why didn't the sequel to The Incredible Hulk take place?

According to Ed Norton, Marvel did a u-turn on the direction they wanted to take the character in.
"I loved the Hulk comics. I believed they were very mythic. And what Chris Nolan had done with Batman was going down a path that I aligned with: long, dark and serious. If there was ever a thing that I thought had that in it, it was the Hulk. It’s literally the Promethean myth. I laid out a two-film thing: The origin and then the idea of Hulk as the conscious dreamer, the guy who can handle the trip. And they were like, ‘That’s what we want!’ 
As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted."
The reasons Norton has given for not returning have changed slightly over the years; from the creative differences mentioned, to wanting more flexibility to make other projects (something a multi-picture Marvel contract might not have given him), and his fears about becoming typecast. Rumours of his difficulty on-set and overriding of the director may have added to the decision to replace him. Kevin Feige would not be drawn on any of this, simply saying that he had chose not to bring back Norton.

In July 2010, Marvel confirmed Mark Ruffalo was to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers, and its sequel. Of course, even with a change of lead actor The Incredible Hulk 2 still could've gone ahead, after all Ruffalo's Banner is the same one we met in the 2008 film. But despite being signed for an Avengers sequel, Feige confirmed at that time Marvel now had no plans to shoot another solo Hulk film.

However, after The Avengers premiere a Q&A session took place with many of the stars and creative talent involved with the film. Feige and Ruffalo confirmed that discussions were now underway to produce another Hulk film due to the positive audience response to Ruffalo's performance in The Avengers.

But that is another Marvel Superhero film that never happened (yet), and a story for another day.


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