Marvel — and Edward Norton — are rushing to do damage control on reports that a feud between them is sinking this summer's Incredible Hulk movie. And yet their efforts to clear the air are only making things worse. A new Entertainment Weekly article touches on the fact that Norton is refusing to do interviews to promote Hulk, which he co-wrote and starred in. Sources, including director Louis Leterrier, tell EW that the feud was only a friendly creative dispute, until the press started reporting it as something bigger — and then Norton and Marvel stopped talking to each other.
Norton wouldn't talk to EW, but did grudgingly issue a bland boilerplate statement saying there's no feud and everything's wonderful, which you can read below. So what was the easy-going creative difference between Norton and Marvel about anyway?
According to Leterrier, it was over the movie's running length. Both he and Norton wanted a more "meditative" movie lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes. Marvel wanted to keep the movie under 2 hours and make it more of an action film. (And then, presumably, release the longer version on DVD.) I have to admit, I'm on Marvel's side here.
Leterrier says Norton admits the shorter version is probably more commercial, and is very "zen" about the whole thing. And yet, he's not doing any interviews about the movie. (The article's explanation, that Norton is avoiding interviews because he doesn't want the press to portray him as difficult, is sort of surreal.)
Anyway, here's Norton's statement, which he issued after a month of negotiation with EW and which Universal Studios and Marvel signed off on:
Like so many people I've loved the story of The Hulk since I was a kid, so it was thrilling when Marvel asked me to write and help produce an altogether new screen incarnation, as well as play Bruce Banner. I grew up reading Marvel Comics and always loved the mythic dimension and contemporary themes in the stories, and I'm proud of the script I wrote. In every phase of production, including the editing, working with Louis Leterrier has been wonderful...I've never had a better partner, and the collaboration with all the rest of the creative team has been terrific. Every good movie gets forged through collaboration, and different ideas among people who are all committed and respect the validity of each other's opinions is the heart of filmmaking. Regrettably, our healthy process, which is and should be a private matter, was misrepresented publicly as a 'dispute,' seized on by people looking for a good story, and has been distorted to such a degree that it risks distracting from the film itself, which Marvel, Universal and I refuse to let happen. It has always been my firm conviction that films should speak for themselves and that knowing too much about how they are made diminishes the magic of watching them. All of us believe The Incredible Hulk will excite old fans and create new ones and be a huge hit...our focus has always been to deliver the Hulk that people have been waiting for and keep the worldwide love affair with the big green guy going strong.