As you’ve probably read all over the internet in the past month, Ed Norton is not doing press for his new movie The Incredible Hulk, which he is apoplectic about being muscled out of. Except, as Jeremy pointed out in his article about Peter Bart today, he absolutely is doing press. Norton has his nose so far in the air about this picture that the other week he turned up on the oh-so illustrious and respected MTV Movie Awards to promote it. Why, right now you can watch him sitting in a studio doing a cute interview piece and kidding around with director Louis Leterrier for Moviefone. The anger and disgust at the producers isn’t really visible in his eyes when he talks about softball topics like eating chocolate in Leterrier’s trailer, but maybe it’s in there, deep down. Who knows, Ed Norton is a complex man.

Maybe it is just an act, trying to paper over the cracks and play nice to kill any bad buzz. Maybe it’s a conspiracy to convince people Norton is happy with the film and get the fan boys through the door. Maybe it’s a contractual crackdown, in which case I’m disappointed he’s not more sneering.

Or maybe it’s all silly invented internet drama, stemming from one woman’s over-reported daft assertion on her blog. I have to mention that I have really no interest in watching this new movie about the Hulk, but I’m morbidly fascinated with the coverage of this story, now winding to a close with the release of the film just around the corner. The story has got so much play (and managed to potentially effect the business of a multi-million dollar picture) because it is a rumour some people want to hear combined with a rumour most people are able to believe.

People have been so burned over these past adaptations that they were waiting for any indication that this movie will be a fiasco (tm Nathan Rabin). At the same time, the general image of Edward Norton is that he’s very much the artiste, so we might believe he has thrown the toys out of the pram over artistic integrity of his work, even when that work is in something as ridiculous as this. So the story runs, even if it’s not at all true.

I think it’s amusing the way the opinion has been thrown all around about this movie, and Norton’s involvement. I was a bit puzzled when it was announced that he would star in this, and especially when it was confirmed that Louis Leterrier was directing, but I assumed it was a pay check job, and I read similar assumptions in talkbacks and blog comments. Then it was mentioned that he’d be rewriting the script, I started to read comments about repeating Ang Lee’s art house angle and also about how Norton was going to take over production and bully the director out of the picture. That particular rumour has hung around him since at least American History X.

Finally, the reverse had supposedly happened, with Norton and the director on the same side, and producers cutting out his extra material. I was never entirely sure what that was meant to indicate for the film, I seemed to lose track of fan opinion along the way. Was this bad? Was this good, because he was trying to take it in a direction fans wouldn’t have liked? And what does Ed Norton not doing press look like? Will he go from one promotional appearance on David Letterman to no promotional appearances on David Letterman? I’m not sure, but it was supposedly big news and people were in a little tizzy about it.

It seems the only person who wasn’t in so much of a tizzy was Ed Norton, who knew rightly what type of film he was getting involved in. Who was working on the movie because he had been a big fan of the Bill Bixby TV show as a child. The best moment is when they actually got a letter out of him to say that he wasn’t angry, which I think is great. Norton had to actually write a letter to say he wasn’t upset because someone on the internet said that he was.

What I also can’t understand is what would it matter if he WAS unhappy with the film? Do we know what Tobey Maguire thinks about the Spider-Man movies? Judging by the expression on his face in the pictures, they put him to sleep. Was Ray Winstone delighted with the final cut of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? How does he think it compares to his work in Tim Roth’s The War Zone? Funnily enough, Tim Roth is in this Hulk film too. Why don’t they ask him what he thinks of it? He’d be more likely to say it’s shit, if that’s the quote folks are after.

Well now the clouds of bad buzz are parting because, as Jeremy says, people have finally seen the film and there’s something else to talk about than TMZ style tabloid stuff. So again, you can make your own mind up about how upset Norton is over at Moviefone, where you’ll find him expressing his rage at the producers by talking about how he’d like to make another one of these things where he fights Wolverine.