According to Fox News's Roger Friedman, The Incredible Hulk's Edward Norton has "slipped off to a desert island rather than do publicity for the movie he stars in and nominally wrote" (not that this will make the film any less enticing to moviegoers whose only other option this weekend is The Happening). As you'll probably recall, Norton, who rewrote a draft of Zak Penn's screenplay, had reportedly been feuding with Marvel Studios over the editing on Hulk, and had threatened not to do interviews if he wasn't satisfied with the final cut. That now appears to be what happened, and poor Liv Tyler has been left all alone to endure reporters questions like, "What's it like working with a publicity-hating jerk?" But was Norton actually right?
We'd assumed that Norton's draft of the script just added a bunch of boring actor-y things, such as crying and extended Shakespearean monologues, and Marvel, not wanting to remake the mistakes of Ang Lee's Lifetime Original–style The Hulk in 2003, was just editing those bits out. But now it sounds like Norton was just trying to flesh out the backstory and give the non-green Bruce Banner a little more depth (Friedman says he "added lots of dialogue, and worked on the character of the Hulk's alter ego to make him more human") — things that most critics, even the ones who liked it, say this movie is lacking. Roger Ebert says it "sidesteps the intriguing aspects of Hulkdom and spends way too much time in, dare I say, noisy and mindless action sequences." "The origin story, dwelled upon at great length in [Ang Lee's] Hulk, is here telescoped into a neat little montage that accompanies the opening titles," writes A.O. Scott in today's Times. "[W]ithout a vivid, complex character at the center of the movie, even the more inspired bits … feel perfunctory and familiar." Should Marvel have listened to Norton? It sort of looks like it!