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How Studio Execs will ruin ‘The Avengers’

July 12, 2010

So often I wish that studio execs would just step back and let the artists make their art. That’s what they usually do with the first movie in what eventually becomes a series. But when the first movie becomes a hit and warrants sequels, it suddenly becomes a property. It’s not a gamble but a vested interest. That’s when they get…. involved.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

So the rumor that Norton is not coming back to the Avengers has been confirmed. This is where it gets petty and childish. Here’s what Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige told Hitfix:

“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in ‘The Avengers,'” Feige told the site. “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.”

Norton’s rep had a reply to this. (bolding mine)

“This offensive statement from Kevin Feige at Marvel is a purposefully misleading, inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light. Here are the facts: two months ago, Kevin called me and said he wanted Edward to reprise the role of Bruce Banner in ‘The Avengers.’ He told me it would be his fantasy to bring Edward on stage with the rest of the cast at [Comic-Con] and make it the event of the convention. When I said that Edward was definitely open to this idea, Kevin was very excited and we agreed that Edward should meet with [director] Joss Whedon to discuss the project. Edward and Joss had a very good meeting (confirmed by Feige to me) at which Edward said he was enthusiastic at the prospect of being a part of the ensemble cast.”

He went on:

“Marvel subsequently made him a financial offer to be in the film and both sides started negotiating in good faith. This past Wednesday, after several weeks of civil, uncontentious discussions, but before we had come to terms on a deal, a representative from Marvel called to say they had decided to go in another direction with the part. This seemed to us to be a financial decision but, whatever the case, it is completely their prerogative, and we accepted their decision with no hard feelings… We know a lot of fans have voiced their public disappointment with this result, but this is no excuse for Feige’s mean spirited, accusatory comments. Counter to what Kevin implies here, Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss and the other actors in the Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his. Feige’s statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel’s fans.”

Sequels always seem like a sure thing. You get the right talent, the right director, the right everything. But something always goes wrong. Sequels are never as good as the originals, but they never tank. They make money. Why would a studio executive let anyone screw with his chance to make some money? So sequels become formulaic. They repeat as much of the past success as possible. They follow trends and give audiences what rich old white dudes think they want. They cash in.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Yeah, okay. Technically, the Avengers isn’t a sequel. It’s a spin off. Same rules apply.

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

It doesn’t look like the hiring of geek favorite Joss Whedon is going to save this movie. The studio has it’s fingers in this pie already. While I’m hopeful that this entire casting kerfuffle is going to be the only hiccup in production, I am growing more and more skeptical as the rumors continue to come in.

For insight on the “drama” behind the scenes on the Incredible Hulk, check out this great article from Slash Film.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2010 10:32 am

    I’m so impossibly angry that they aren’t bringing Edward Norton back as the Hulk that I’m not sure I can even put it into words. The 2003 Hulk movie with Eric Bana was ATROCIOUS, and I was so worried about the re-boot that I almost didn’t bother to go see it. But Edward Norton did an amazing job, bringing heart and intelligent back to the character – not to mention the cgi was a lot better too. How they can NOT bring Norton back is BEYOND my ability to understand.

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