Drew McWeeny over at HitFix has the exclusive on this one, bringing the news that Edward Norton will not reprise the Hulk role that he made his own in the 2008 film, The Incredible Hulk.

It seems clear that Edward Norton has been keen to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk again but Marvel has not been forthcoming with an offer.

Drew states the following about The Avengers film in his piece:

According to Marvel sources, the company has decided that they are going to cast “an unknown” to play Bruce Banner and The Hulk in the film.

Now the first thing that springs to my mind is that perhaps Bruce Banner is going to spend the bulk of the film as The Hulk (a CGI Hulk) and therefore execs may think that they do not need to bring back the possibly expensive Norton to play role again. Even a few minutes though of Bruce Banner not played by Norton would be a bit jarring as it would be a break from the continuity of the recent Marvel films. My impression was that Marvel were keen to build a Marvel film continuity with The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 1 and 2, Captain America, Thor and eventually The Avengers film and recasting any of the key actors seems like a misstep in this plan.

If a new actor is brought in to play Banner/The Hulk this will be the third actor in less than ten years to play the role on the big screen. Isn’t this rebooting/recasting getting a little out of hand?

There is superhero precedence here though as the role of Rachel, played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins was played by Maggie Gyllenhaal in the sequel, The Dark Knight. In this instance, in my opinion, it was a change for the better but replacing Norton? I’m not so sure.

Although not yet fully confirmed it is widely known that Joss Whedon has been placed in charge of the forthcoming Avengers film and rumours are rife that there will be big announcements about the film at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Stay tuned for further updates.