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Mark Ruffalo in Negotiations to Play the Hulk in The Avengers

In what may be the most unexpected casting rumor yet, there appears to be a new frontrunner to fill the role of the Hulk in 2012’s The Avengers, which became vacant following Marvel’s decision to tell Norton that he was persona non gratis at Marvel. The newest person to supposedly take on the role of Bruce Banner, is character actor Mark Ruffalo.

Ruffalo is an odd choice at first glance. The majority of his roles are either supporting turns, such as his recent role in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, or as a starring role in David Fincher’s character driven Zodiac. Ruffalo is a respected actor and will likely fill the “team player” position that Marvel said that it wanted for the role, but it is still an odd choice, considering that he will be acting in Ed Norton’s sizable shadow.

According to Deadline, Ruffalo is in the late stages of negotiations, and has been offered the role but has yet to accept the deal. If it is true, and if Ruffalo does accept, he will likely be committing to a multiple-film deal, including at least two Avengers sequels, and possibly a new series of Hulk movies. The original deal for Norton’s Hulk included a three-picture commitment for the majority of the cast involved.

Until it is a done deal, which we may not know for sure until the Marvel announcements on July 24 at ComicCon’s final day, this and all casting announcements should be taken with a grain of salt.

Along with Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Nathan Fillion and David Tennant have all been mentioned as contenders for the role.

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