She-Hulk Almost Pulled A Mark Ruffalo Casting Stunt That Would Have Driven Fans Nuts

Aside from King T'Challa following the death of Chadwick Boseman, Marvel Studios has had no issues recasting several characters over the years. Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard after "Iron Man." Zachary Levi stepped in as Fandral the Dashing when Josh Dallas became unavailable. And most recently, it was announced that Harrison Ford would take up the mantle of General Thunderbolt Ross in "Captain America: New World Order" after the passing of William Hurt.

While those were all impactful in their own ways, the highest profile recasting had to be when the Marvel Cinematic Universe swapped Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk in 2012's "The Avengers." The "Fight Club" and "Keeping The Faith" star played the good doctor and his not-so-jolly green alter ego in the 2008 movie "The Incredible Hulk," but due to the distribution rights situation with Universal Pictures (among other things), Marvel Studios couldn't feature the character in his own feature films without complications.

Despite Norton's one and done stint with the House of Ideas, True Believers have't forgotten his contributions to the franchise. In fact, "She-Hulk: Attorney At Law" even gave a nod to the actor when Ruffalo's Banner said that he is "a completely different person now, literally" since the last time he crossed paths with Emil Blonsky, AKA the Abomination. However, it turns out that the latest Disney+ series from Marvel could've contained a larger reference to Louis Leterrier's Phase One film: An appearance by Edward Norton himself.

Smashing good time

While speaking to The Direct about the season one finale, "She-Hulk" director Kat Coiro revealed that there were initially plans in place to have an Edward Norton cameo in the final battle when Abomination and Hulk were reunited onscreen in the MCU for the first time in nearly 15 years. Coiro elaborated:

"There was a lot of talk about the fact that the last time they were together a different actor was playing the Hulk. And Mark [Ruffalo] made quite a few jokes about that. And we did entertain the idea of swapping Mark out for Edward Norton. But that did not come to pass."

Considering the chaos of the last episode and the fourth wall-breaking tone the show set throughout the first season, that kind of gag probably would have played out great for fans of the show. It wouldn't have even needed to be a big thing either. Maybe the audience sees Hulk from Blonsky's point of view and it's Norton's Hulk for a few moments before his eyes adjust to the light and he makes a comment like, "You look different."

With Marvel Studios including actors like Patrick Stewart, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, and J.K. Simmons in recent films, it would be nice to see Norton get the rub as well. However, when he left the franchise, Kevin Feige's statement said that they needed "an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members" since "The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble." If that wasn't how Norton rolled during his time in the MCU, it might be a tough sell to Feige to bring him back. Although, with "Avengers: Secret Wars" on the horizon, anything is possible in the multiverse, so never say never.