How important is Ed Norton playing Bruce Banner to you? If it’s very important, you may be upset to hear that HitFix is reporting that Marvel has opted to not bring him on to The Avengers, deciding to go with another actor who might be more affordable.

I’m not that phased, to be honest. I’d rather see Norton appear as Bruce Banner – I’m a nerd, and nerds like continuity – but this doesn’t feel like a deal-breaker to me. The main reason I don’t feel that bummed out about is that I don’t even know how much screen time Bruce Banner will have in the movie. At this point it seems set in stone that The Hulk will be the threat that brings The Avengers together – as it was in the original comics – but there’s no strong indicator of just how important the human side of the Jolly Green Avenger will be. If Banner’s a major player in the story, I might feel the absence of Norton. But if he’s a glorified cameo with The Hulk getting all the screen time… well, whatever allows director Joss Whedon the most freedom to create a huge spectacle is okay by me. And if that something is not paying Norton’s quote, so be it.

Now, if Banner is a major player in the film, this is another matter altogether. If we’re going to spend a lot of time with Banner in human form, it would be nice to have Norton playing the part, in no small measure because he’s a very good actor, and if there’s a lot of screen time I’d rather it be with a good actor.

There’s another aspect to this: if Marvel plans on making more Hulk movies, it might make sense for them to find their replacement Banner now and introduce him in The Avengers. Let’s put it this way – I don’t think Marvel would be willing to make another film with Ed Norton in the lead.

Norton’s interested in playing Banner, and HitFix has a good rundown of that behind the scenes stuff. I just hope this isn’t a case of people using the media to negotiate deals – it’s happened before with Marvel, and I know it’ll happen again. I think the timing of this – two weeks before Comic Con – is no coincidence.

For the full details, visit HitFix.