However, a new claim suggests Norton not only considered himself the film's lead but also one of its writers, making minute changes to some scenes and questionable overhauls to others.
How Edward Norton Changed Incredible Hulk's Ending
According to The Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn, via the new tell-all book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, Edward Norton took creative license with the film's script.
For the most part, and in Penn's opinion, the actor's adjustments were largely cosmetic with Norton making changes as follows:
“I had him walking east down the street wearing a blue hat and now he’s walking west down the street wearing a red hat. And I had named his downstairs neighbor Lorina, and he changed it to Malina or something.”
However, Norton made bigger, more questionable changes to the film's ending, such as when a scene where Thunderbolt Ross throws Bruce Banner out of a helicopter was "moved to a moment when he chooses to jump into Harlem:"
“There was some stuff at the end that he really changed. I had a scene where, when Ross picked Banner up from the hospital earlier in the movie, he throws him out of the helicopter. It was a pretty shocking moment. They moved that to a moment when he chooses to jump into Harlem."
But apart from bigger a significant rewriter, Penn admitted he didn't understand the change as Banner's Harlem jump "could theoretically kill a lot of people:"
"So that’s a big difference: I felt like [the original version] would have been a really cool scene, and I didn’t totally understand why he would jump out into Harlem, given that he could theoretically kill a lot of people.”
Why Did Marvel Studios Recast Edward Norton?
This isn't the first time a member of The Incredible Hulk team has shared their baffling experiences working with Edward Norton.
One of the most recent involved longtime Marvel Studios stuntman, choreographer, and motion capture actor Terry Notary, who shared Edward Norton's lack of effort on The Incredible Hulk's VFX.
Marvel Studios' decision to replace Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo for 2012's The Avengers was reportedly due to offscreen drama involving The Incredible Hulk star.
While not confirmed, Norton's surprising rewrites to Zak Penn's script, including the actor's confusing third-act scene, was likely one of many frustrations that ultimately led Marvel Studios to continue on without its original Hulk star.
But even though Edward Norton's MCU story is over, the same can't be said for his Marvel co-stars.
In addition, Liv Tyler's Betty Ross and Tim Blake Nelson's The Leader are both confirmed to return in 2024's Captain America: Brave New World.
The Incredible Hulk is streaming now on Disney+.