A short-lived idea was thrown out by Marvel’s What If…? showrunner that proposed a return of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner aka The Hulk. Given the premise of the animated series, it certainly would’ve been an intriguing idea.
Writer A.C. Bradley says get was tossing around a lot of ideas during the making of the latest episode. The new episode asks the question “What If…The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” and contains events of “Fury’s Big Week”, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk. This means they got to go back to the latter movie which is very rarely referenced in the greater MCU. In the episode, Mark Ruffalo gets to play Bruce Banner in the scenario but it was briefly considered to bring Edward Norton since it references the one and only time he got to play Bruce Banner. Here is what A.C. Bradley had to say:
“It wasn’t much of a difference for me, I love all Marvel movies. I’ve seen The Incredible Hulk probably three or four times. I love the bottle chase sequence in the beginning. We wanted to make sure that with all three movies we pulled iconic moments that people would recognize. So for The Incredible Hulk, it was the Culver University fight scene. We wanted to use, if possible, the fight in Harlem. But the Culver one lends itself better to the story, so we went there. I did joke early on, ‘If we can’t get Ruffalo back are we going to ask Norton?’ And I was told that Mark Ruffalo already agreed to do the show. He’s a very lovely human being, and he was great. He came in, had fun, and you really can’t get a better Hulk than Mark Ruffalo”
2008’s The Incredible Hulk was the second MCU film after Iron Man. The film starred Edward Norton as the titular character and, in the film, Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk as an unwitting pawn in a military scheme to reinvigorate the “Super Soldier” program through gamma radiation. Banner goes on the run from the military while attempting to cure himself of the Hulk. The film received generally favorable reviews but was greeted with mixed reactions from fans. With a worldwide gross of $264.8 million, it’s the lowest-grossing film of the MCU. Most of the drama was actually going on behind the scenes as Norton reportedly disputed with Marvel over the final edit of the film among other issues that led to him not being asked to return for The Avengers. He was ultimately replaced by Mark Ruffalo.