When Edward Norton and Marvel parted ways in 2010 over the role of the Hulk, there was some real rage. Both camps lobbed broadsides at each other, with Marvel dropping a preemptive bomb that implied that Norton had to go because he lacked the “collaborative spirit of [the Avengers'] other talented cast members.” Norton’s agent angrily responded that Marvel’s unilateral decision to end good-faith negotiations with Norton was purely financial. For his part, Norton took the high road with an earnest missive on Facebook where he expressed regret that he wouldn’t be joining all the Marvel superheroes in The Avengers.
Four years later, Norton has a slightly different explanation for what happened then, which ultimately resulted in Mark Ruffalo taking over as Bruce Banner and the Hulk. When he spoke to NPR’s Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Norton, who is a leading contender for an Oscar nomination for his work in this month’s Birdman, made the 2010 parting seem like it was very much his artistic choice: