Surprising almost no one who's been following this, Marvel Studios now confirms the HitFix story from yesterday about Edward Norton not reprising his role as the human half of The Hulk in "Avengers": http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/2008-12-6-motion-captured/posts/exclusive-marvel-confirms-they-will-hire-new-hulk-for-avengers
The confirmation comes from an exclusive message forwared to HF by President of Production Kevin Feige, which prominently includes the following: "Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members."
Translation: Norton is too much of a pain in the ass to work with on this big of a movie - at least from Marvel's perspective. The fact is, Norton is notorious for forcibly inserting himself into the production side of moviemaking; a tendency that's been jointly labeled as "passionate" or "obnoxious" depending what end you were on and what the result was. He and Marvel had a VERY public dust-up over the final cut of "The Incredible Hulk," and they were almost-certainly dreading having to deal with that again... nevermind the unknown factor of how it'd "mesh" with having an already extra-dominant personality at the helm in Joss Whedon.
The MOST interesting thing in Feige's letter is an outright refutation of the original reports that the role would go to an unknown. Says Feige: "We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."
"Name actor," as in "name you know."
Hey, y'know what would be the BEST time to announce who it is, especially if it's a "good" name - i.e. one that they think will make fans "get over" losing Norton really fast? Comic-Con... a few weeks from now. The timing of this is probably not an accident, and means they're probably already well on their way to a decision.
So what's the "name" gonna be? HitFix's McWeeny tossed out Sharlto Copley, which makes an almost ridiculous amount of sense. And since Whedon is directing every male actor from Angel, Buffy, Firely etc. can all go on The List as well. Anyone else?