Back in Phase 1, The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton was replaced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with actor Mark Ruffalo, who recently opened up about the awkward situation. Released in 2008, The Incredible Hulk introduced the MCU’s Hulk with Norton, following the success of MCU starter Iron Man that same year. A number of behind-the-scenes issues led to Norton exiting the role after the movie’s release, with Ruffalo officially announced as the new Hulk actor in 2010 for The Avengers. Now that some characters from The Incredible Hulk have returned to the MCU, Ruffalo has opened up about the awkward replacement.
Speaking at Emerald City Comic-Con (via The Direct), Ruffalo — who has not had a Hulk movie due to MCU rights problems — spoke about replacing The Incredible Hulk‘s Norton as Bruce Banner in the MCU. According to the actor, he reached out to Norton, and even though the situation was awkward, the previous Hulk actor showed no grudge against Ruffalo, who revealed the two are friends and “it’s never come up as an issue.” Check out the full quote below:
Awkward. (laughs) No, I mean, I didn’t talk to him, but I reached out to him, as we do now when we don’t want to talk. And I was like, ‘Hey, man,’ and he’s like, ‘No, it’s fine.’ I mean, it was weird. It was even weird when Robert Downey Jr., at Comic-Con [in 2010], when introducing me, said, ‘And now reprising the role of the Hulk, is Mark Ruffalo.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah– Huh?’
But you know, Ed’s… I don’t think… I don’t know how attached to it Ed was, you know, ultimately. I think he was like, ‘Oh, thank God. Let Ruffalo deal with it.’ But he’s been beautiful. We’re friends. It’s never come up as an issue. I’m blessed.
Could Edward Norton & Mark Ruffalo Both Play Hulk In The MCU?
Even though Norton has been completely removed from the MCU ever since starring in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, his movie has now been reinserted even more firmly to the canon of the MCU, with important characters from the movie making a comeback. The first return of The Incredible Hulk actors to Marvel movies was the late William Hurt, who reprised his Thunderbolt Ross role in several MCU films, starting with 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Following Hurt’s passing, Hollywood legend Harrison Ford has been tapped to take over as the MCU’s Thunderbolt Ross, who will be the President of the United States in next year’s Captain America: New World Order.
The movie starring Anthony Mackie as the new Captain America, Sam Wilson, is heavily rumored to include a Hulk-heavy story. That makes sense based on the casting of Ford as the new MCU Thunderbolt Ross, and Marvel’s announcement that actor Tim Blake Nelson will be reprising his role of Samuel Sterns from The Incredible Hulk — now fully realized as the MCU’s Hulk villain The Leader. While the new Captain America movie is shaping up to be an exciting film for fans of The Incredible Hulk, the Disney+ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series already saw the meeting of Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Tim Roth’s Abomination.
With the recent returns, the only Incredible Hulk stars missing in the MCU are Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross and Norton himself. While there are no updates regarding either actor’s MCU return, it is possible that Norton and Ruffalo might share the screen as the Hulk in the near future. Marvel Studios is moving forward with the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, which should conclude with 2026’s Avengers: Secret Wars. The multiverse movie allows the studio to make amends with Norton through a role alongside his friend Ruffalo, bringing back the main star of The Incredible Hulk.
Next: Ant-Man: Quantumania’s VFX Issues Are A Bad Sign For MCU Phase 5 & 6
Source: Mark Ruffalo (via The Direct)