In a new interview, The Incredible Hulk
star Edward Norton has talked more about what he had planned for the franchise when he first signed on to play Bruce Banner. Apparently, the actor pitched not one, but two films, and they would have been a lot darker and grittier than what we ended up getting back in 2008.
"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," Norton explained. "And they were like, 'That’s what we want!' As it turned out, that wasn’t what they wanted."
That would explain why things ended the way they did with Bruce gaining control over the Hulk, and after admitting that he had a "great time" working on the movie, Norton said he also got on well with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige... until he released a statement saying they wanted an actor "who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented castmembers."
"Yeah, which was cheap," Norton said. "It was brand defensiveness or something. Ultimately they weren’t going for long, dark and serious. But it doesn’t matter."
"We had positive discussions about going on with the films, and we looked at the amount of time that would’ve taken, and I wasn’t going to do that," the actor continued. "I honestly would’ve wanted more money than they’d have wanted to pay me. But that’s not why I would’ve wanted to do another Hulk movie anyway."
Norton also maintains that he never clashed with Feige during production despite claims to the contrary. "I’m saying that Kevin had an idea of a thing that you could do, and it was remarkable. Now it didn’t happen to be on a tonal, thematic level what I wanted to spend my time doing."
Do you guys think this take on the Green Goliath would have been better?
Hit the "View List" button to check out a list of
actors who left their superhero roles way too soon!
Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman
Halle Berry was a terrible Catwoman, and Anne Hathaway's effort was so grounded, she was basically just a regular woman on a motorbike. As a result, Michelle Pfeiffer's version of Selina Kyle's remains the most iconic version to ever grace the big screen. Unfortunately, we only got to see her suit up in a single movie!
While it's been said that a solo movie was being lined up for the actress, that never happened, and the fact she didn't return to the main Batman franchise reportedly boiled down to Warner Bros. and Joel Schumacher's desire to take things in a kid-friendly direction. It's a great shame, because there was a lot more story to tell with Catwoman and Pfeiffer was perfect in the role.
Rumour has it that Pfeiffer was let go (well, fired) by the studio, so walking away from the character wasn't exactly her decision, and she's expressed her love for Selina many times over the years.
Zachary Levi's Fandral
Zachary Levi was supposed to play Fandral in the first Thor
movie, but a scheduling conflict caused by Chuck
meant that couldn't happen. Well, when Josh Dallas was forced to pull out of The Dark World
, Levi was there to fill the void and, well, he didn't exactly do all that much in the end!
The sequel failed to give him a decent amount of the spotlight, and he had just a single line in Thor: Ragnarok
. For such a comedically gifted actor, Levi was never given the opportunity to show it in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but being killed off might be the best thing that happened to him.
Free from his Marvel contract, Levi would sign up to play the lead role in Shazam!
to rave reviews.
Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man
Yes, Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker was often portrayed as a hipster douche or creepy stalker, but he did a great job as Spider-Man and after Tobey Maguire's relatively stoic performance, we finally got a version of the wall-crawler who reeled off one-liners and had fun being a superhero.
Garfield was only given the opportunity to play the character over two movies, but he genuinely loved Spidey (more so than any other actor who played him) and with a better script, he really could have delivered a take on Peter that wouldn't have been topped. Alas, the three films he was scheduled to appear in were scrapped when Sony Pictures decided to reboot the franchise.
While there's a good chance those movies would have been terrible, it's hard not to wonder what might have been!
Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man
While we're talking about Spider-Man, it would be wrong not to mention Tobey Maguire's version of the webbed wonder. The actor soured most fans on his take on the character after Spider-Man 3
and that moronic dance sequence, but he was a pretty damn good Spidey for the most part and that fourth instalment could have been a lot of fun.
Making Felicia Hardy "The Vulturess" was undeniably dumb, but Sam Raimi's take on The Vulture would have more than likely been spectacular, while continuing to watch Peter's evolution as a superhero would have definitely been appreciated.
After all, he was pretty much out of college at this point and that's the oldest a live-action version of the character has ever got! Just like with Andrew Garfield, Sony's decision to reboot the Spider-Man
franchise brought his tenure as the hero to a premature end, and we now just have to hope that the same thing doesn't happen to Tom Holland!
Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern
I might get some flak for this one, but as bad as Green Lantern
was, Ryan Reynolds could have been redeemed as Hal Jordan. His performance was definitely a tad too comedic for a character like Jordan, but there was a lot he got right and goofiness aside, Reynolds displayed many of the traits comic book fans want from this ring slinging superhero.
Warner Bros. missed a trick by not having him appear in Man of Steel
or even Justice League,
and the studio's apparent lack of interest in continuing Green Lantern's story meant that Reynolds went away and instead found success with Deadpool
Had the studio given it some thought, Reynolds could have easily remained on as the DCEU's Hal Jordan, but as things stand, he's now headed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Merc with the Mouth and that Green Lantern Corps
movie sadly remains stuck in development hell.
Edward Norton's Hulk
Edward Norton was a really good Bruce Banner, and while The Incredible Hulk
was far from perfect (hence why it's arguably the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe family), he delivered a great take on the character and was seemingly set to take the Jade Giant down a slightly more villainous route based on what we know was originally planned for The Avengers
His constant clashes with the studio and a desire to take creative control of the movie meant that he fell out with Kevin Feige and company in a massive way, and there was never a chance he would reprise the role.
As a result, Marvel Studios turned to Mark Ruffalo and it's now hard to imagine anyone other than him playing the Green Goliath on the big screen. Norton has mostly shied away from big budget blockbusters since this experience, but it would be fun to visit an alternate universe where he continued playing the MCU's Hulk!
Henry Cavill's Superman
No one really believed it when it was revealed that Henry Cavill was done as Superman, and we heard at the time that contractual disputes with Warner Bros. and their desire to put the focus on Supergirl is what led to him wiping his hands with the Man of Steel.
It can't have helped that Cavill was widely ridiculed for his CGI jaw in Justice League
(no actor wants to become a meme), and the studio's apparent lack of interest in doing anything with Superman beyond a Shazam!
cameo must have frustrated the actor to a large extent. After all, they even turned down a pitch from director Christopher McQuarrie!
Now, the DCEU finds itself without a Superman and Cavill has moved on. It's sad to think about what might have been, especially as the actor did such a terrific job playing Clark Kent.
Michael Keaton's Batman
Widely considered one of the best Batman actors of all-time, Michael Keaton only actually stuck around for two movies before deciding to walk away from the franchise. After Batman Returns, Warner Bros. hired Joel Schumacher to take things in a new direction, but they still wanted Keaton to play the Dark Knight. Unfortunately, what happened next isn't particularly easy to figure out.
There are a number of conflicting stories with some claiming that Keaton was fired for demanding more money, and others saying he read the script, realised it sucked, and couldn't leave fast enough.
We know that Tim Burton had tentative plans for a third instalment, and it would have been beyond awesome to get an entire trilogy of Batman movies from the filmmaker with Keaton in the lead role.
January Jones' Emma Frost
January Jones' performance as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class
was slated by fans and critics alike, something which came as a genuine surprise given her fantastic work in Mad Men.
There were glimpses of greatness here, though, and Jones definitely oozed the sort of sex appeal you would expect from a character like this one. Given Frost's newfound alliance with Magneto and her storied history, seeing her story continue to play out into Days of Future Past
and beyond might have been really rewarding, especially if she'd been given a meatier role.
If Matthew Vaughn had returned to direct that might have happened, but Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer clearly weren't interested in continuing Emma Frost's story in the X-Men
Ben Affleck's Batman
What a depressing ride this was for superhero movie fans. Ben Affleck was supposed to write, direct, and star in The Batman,
but after endless delays and Justice League
's critical pounding, the actor decided to hang up his cape and cowl and seemingly pretend that it never happened.
Despite the initial "Batfleck" backlash, Affleck was a tremendous choice to play the Dark Knight in the DCEU, even if he was saddled with bad movies and lost interest in sticking around as a result.
film probably would have been amazing, but Warner Bros. really screwed up with how they handled things and no one can really blame him for moving on. It's a shame it was such a drawn out process with what felt like false promise after false promise about the movie actually happening, but there's now a lot of excitement among fans to see what Robert Pattinson does with the role.
Talking of Batfleck, where did it all go wrong for him?
Continue reading for our recap of his fall from grace!
On August 22nd, 2013, Ben Affleck was announced as the new Batman for what was then being billed as an untitled Man of Steel sequel. Despite his impressive turns in movies like The Town and Argo, there was an immediate backlash and fans really weren't on board with him playing the Caped Crusader.
Here on CBM, the article revealing the news received over 1500 comments with gems like, "[I'm] just really not a fan of this news... [I] feel like DC hates us," "Nothing about Affleck screams Bruce Wayne or Batman," and "NO. No way, this has got to be a joke surely? I mean, BEN AFFLECK? BEN AFFLECK!?!?!?!? No way. I refuse to believe it." And those are just the clean ones!
This wasn't a good start for Batfleck and the actor later talked about being told by Warner Bros. to not pay too much attention to what was being said online. Unfortunately, things would only get worse for him from there...
Batman v Superman Bombs
As time passed, the images and trailers made it clear that Affleck was a great choice to play the hero (visually, at least) and when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters, pretty much no one had anything bad to say about his version of the character.
Unfortunately, the movie took an absolute pounding and the actor became a meme thanks to an interview which saw him dubbed "Sad Affleck." He clearly wasn't happy with the way things were going, but remained attached to direct a Batman movie he'd been writing with comic book scribe Geoff Johns and was lined up to appear in Suicide Squad.
Still, he can't have been pleased about starring in a critical flop as it hurt his status as a director and was like Daredevil all over again.
A Pointless Suicide Squad Cameo
When set photos showed Batman chasing down The Joker and Harley Quinn, fans were extremely excited to see how that would play out in Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, his appearance there boiled down to an underwhelming car chase in which he never interacted with the Clown Prince of Crime and a far too brief battle with Deadshot which was a total disappointment.
On the plus side, we did get a pretty cool mid-credits scene featuring Bruce Wayne and Amanda Waller.
The main problem was that Suicide Squad was another critical flop for Warner Bros. and while Batman's role was brief, this was another bad superhero movie (according to the critics, at least) that Affleck's name was attached to. It was at this point that he clearly started to grow frustrated with the role.
Ben Affleck's Frustrations
"With Live by Night, it took me a year and a half to write and get ready, and I worked really hard and — it’s just, nobody gave a sh*t!," Affleck told Jimmy Kimmel when asked for an update on The Batman. "But with Batman, I keep on getting, ‘Where’s the f***ing Batman script?!’ I’m like, ‘Whoa — I’m working! Give me a second!'"
It seemed like the pressure was getting the best of him. Live by Night (which Affleck directed while shooting Batman v Superman and Justice League, thereby taking his attention away from that movie) was a critical disappointment and that really can't have helped.
It was around this time that rumours about him being done with Batman after Justice League started gaining traction and it seemed as if his days as the hero might be numbered. However, fans held out hope because The Batman was still in the works. Well, not for much longer, unfortunately!
The Batman Falls Apart
Affleck's version of The Batman would have pitted the Dark Knight against Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke and that was an idea fans could get on board with (especially with Johns contributing his comic book knowledge to the script).
On January 30th, 2017, the actor issued the following statement about no longer directing the movie:
"There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world."
That was it for his version of The Batman but things still looked good because at least Affleck was going to team up with a new director to bring the movie to life, while still playing the Caped Crusader. Hell, he even declared at Comic-Con that, "I am the luckiest guy in the world, Batman is the coolest f***ing part in any universe." Matt Reeves was hired but things didn't go as we thought.
Reeves quickly made it clear that he was not only making changes to Affleck and John's script; he was totally rewriting it from scratch. What was going to be an action movie along the lines of The Raid was to be transformed into a noir thriller and the director clearly had a different vision for how Batman's story should play out, hence why we started hearing rumblings about it being a prequel.
Whether or not Affleck's departure had something to do with creative differences behind the scenes is hard to say, but it really didn't feel like these two were ever on the same page and that when Warner Bros. hired Reeves, they knew he wanted to essentially reboot the character and take him down a more standalone path which isn't necessarily connected to the wider DC Extended Universe.
The Justice League Dilemma
We really don't need to recap what went wrong with Justice League again but the fact is, this was the third DC movie that Affleck starred in which was met with scathing reviews from critics.
He can't have been happy with that and the writing was on the wall at this point.
Sure, we were hearing stories that he might play Batman one final time in Flashpoint to bring a close to his time as the character while a younger actor would take over in The Batman, but once that fell apart and Warner Bros. decided to focus on standalone story, it was apparent that it was simply a matter of time before it was made official that he would no longer be playing Bruce Wayne.
A New Batman
It feels like we spent all of 2018 sifting through rumours about who could be the next Batman and names like Jack O'Connell, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Richard Armitage continued popping up online.
Nothing concrete was revealed, of course, and as far as we were concerned, Affleck was technically still attached to the role. His personal life was in disarray, though, as he re-entered rehab and clearly had more on his plate than playing a superhero again.
The trades and fansites weighed in but nothing was made official until earlier this week.
Batman, No More
This week, The Batman got a release date: June 25th, 2021. It won't star Ben Affleck, though, and a new actor is being sought after by Matt Reeves. The movie will reportedly be a noir-type detective story that finally sheds some light on why the Dark Knight has been described as the World's Greatest Detective.
We don't know if this will be a reboot, a prequel, or a standalone adventure unrelated to Justice League. However, after months of conflicting reports and rumours, we now know that Affleck is done as Batman and that's a shame because it's hard to escape the feeling that we missed something special here.
Had things played out differently, we could have very easily seen his Batman on screen for years to come but it wasn't meant to be.
What Comes Next?
This is the million dollar question. As of right now, we simply do now know but the casting process for The Batman should begin soon and that means we'll find out who will be the new Bruce Wayne as well as the actors who will portray some of his most iconic villains (Reeves has said we're getting an entire rogues gallery). In terms of story details, you have to hope those are on the way too.
Warner Bros. isn't shying away from saying that they're happy to make movies which don't set up a larger world, so chances are it won't tie into past releases and could even use a whole new cast of actors to play the likes of Alfred and Commissioner Gordon.
What are your thoughts on the rise and fall of Batfleck? Share your thoughts in the comments section down below and stay tuned for more details as we have them.