MCU Theory: Edward Norton Wanted His Movie to Focus Less on Hulk, More on Bruce

It was obvious that Marvel’s Hulk character was originally inspired directly from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The transformative struggle between Bruce Banner and the Hulk made for an interesting dynamic in comics and TV, even if it appears there was a meta battle on character balance with Edward Norton.

When latter actor played the role of Banner/Hulk in 2008, reports are he wanted the focus more on Bruce than the green giant. That does not sound surprising coming from Norton considering his constant push for deep character development.

One could argue a story about Bruce Banner would have made a more intellectual exploration of Hulk, one sounding appealing to a few fans.

Edward Norton slightly smiling in front of a red background
Edward Norton | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Edward Norton wanted a more thoughtful Banner/Hulk story

Had Edward Norton gotten his way with his own script, The Incredible Hulk in ’08 would probably have been a very different movie. Many things continue being written about the creative differences Norton experienced, as reported by Cinemablend, on said film. His leaving Marvel with some mixed feelings is still a sore spot for those who thought he was the best Banner.

Few said such a thing a decade ago. With time, many now note Norton was the closest thing to the classic Banner/Hulk they remembered from comic books and television.

On Reddit, fans think Norton brought an interesting Jekyll/Hyde feel to The Incredible Hulk that could have explored some deeper issues. In many ways, this was a continuation of the original late ’70s/early ’80s TV series where “David” Banner was constantly trying to find a cure for his transformation.

One thing forgotten is the pilot of the TV show delved into Banner’s initial experiment: How anger can heighten people psychologically to harness superhuman strength.

Would a movie focusing on Banner over Hulk be a big hit?

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According to all official reports, Norton wanted to do a two-movie arc delving into darker territory. Based on Marvel (then Disney) wanting to keep things PG-13 for all their MCU films, one can see what the real creative problem was.

Nevertheless, if fan theories are correct Norton wanted to focus more on Banner than the Hulk, the whole situation was perhaps more about a brainier film vs. comic book level action.

As other analysts note, Norton’s two-film idea seemed to indicate he wanted an origin film, then another film where Banner gains more control over turning into the Hulk, according to Syfy. Yes, this means it would have focused on Banner staving off the Hulk impulses, something comic book fans probably would refuse.

Norton said at the time Marvel had this in mind. Now we all know they ended up compromising and creating Smart Hulk to balance out Banner controlling the beast within.

Should there still be a movie focusing on Bruce Banner?

Exploring the initial TV show idea of how emotional anger can give people the ability to do superhuman things is still an intriguing concept. Having this be the focus of a movie with Bruce Banner himself sounds like a pipe dream, if always still possible someday.

The story of Banner/Hulk may get a reboot down the line after the Mark Ruffalo era officially ends. In the meantime, it looks like Smart Hulk will gain all focus if he comes back at all.

Rumors keep saying Ruffalo will return as Hulk in Disney+’s upcoming She-Hulk series, despite Ruffalo saying, according to Screenrant, it is not a done deal. If there ever is more Hulk in the MCU with Ruffalo, Smart Hulk will likely be the center focus.

Someday, perhaps things will double back to focusing on Banner again like Norton wanted. Thanks to the MCU becoming more thoughtful in their plots lately, maybe there really is room to explore Banner in a deep-dive, psychological portrait.