Edward Norton Offers New Explanation for Not Playing Hulk in 'Avengers' Films

His answer has changed a bit since 2010

With the world still relishing its first peek at the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, Edward Norton is explaining why he's put the purple pants away for good.

The actor, who has been earning Oscar buzz for his role opposite Michael Keaton in the dramedy Birdman, spoke to NPR about why he did not play the Hulk in the Avengers films after having donned the green makeup for director Louis Leterrier's 2008 film The Incredible Hulk. Mark Ruffalo has taken over for Norton in the role since then.

Read more Marvel Gave Robert Downey Jr. the Giant "A" From 'Avengers'

"My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to," Norton said. "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."

Norton said he "wanted more diversity" with his career, pointing out that the schedules for films he has appeared in recently, including Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman, would have conflicted with the Avengers films. He added that he didn't want to be associated with just one iconic character. 

"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," Norton said.

Read more Mark Ruffalo Says 'Avengers 2' Hulk Is 'More Complex'

This marks a somewhat different take on the situation than he offered in a Facebook post in July 2010 when it was first announced he wouldn't appear in Avengers. "It seems it won't work out for me," he wrote then about continuing on as the Hulk. "I sincerely hoped it could happen and be great for everyone, but it hasn't turned out as we all hoped."

This all begs the question of how valid Norton's latest explanation is. After all, Ruffalo has had zero trouble balancing his role as the moody superhero with starring in smaller films of his choosing. This year alone, Ruffalo has added Begin Again, HBO's The Normal Heart and the forthcoming Foxcatcher to his resume. 

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@pgmedia.org
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski

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