Mark Ruffalo Cast as The Hulk In ‘The Avengers’ Movie

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Early Friday The Wrap‘s Sharon Waxmon had a report Mark Ruffalo was nearing a deal to play Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) in Paramount’s The Avengers. It was a casting rumor first reported about nine days ago and tonight it appears the deal has happened just in time for a big San Diego Comic Con announcement tomorrow.

Tonight Nikki Finke at Deadline reports the “ink is drying on the deal reached by Brillstein Entertainment Partners with Marvel” and Ruffalo will play the Marvel comic book superhero in the ensemble feature The Avengers. Of course, this means stepping into a role last played by Edward Norton after a highly publicized ousting of the most recent actor to play the big green monster.

Expectation now is for Ruffalo to be the “surprise” announcement tomorrow night at 6:00-7:00 PM PST at Comic Con when Marvel and Paramount will present Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to the convention-going crowd of 6,500 strong.

This, however, isn’t the only news circling the feature as it was confirmed on Thursday that Joss Whedon (Serenity) will indeed direct the film bringing together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and other heroes form Marvel’s first supergroup, The Avengers. Whedon was originally brought aboard to do a rewrite on Zak Penn’s script, but it has always been assumed he would also be the one at the helm.

The news also continues to spew forth as Whedon has now confirmed Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) will star as Clint “Hawkeye” Barton in the film in the video interview you see to the right with OntheRedCarpet.com.

Hawkeye is apparently an orphan with a talent for archery that after seeing Iron Man save the lives of some people at the carnival, decided to become a costumed crime-fighter himself. He was mistaken as a criminal, however, and hunted down. He soon hoped to join Iron Man’s team of Avengers and as a way of proving himself, he broke into the Avengers Mansion and convinced their butler, Jarvis, to play the role of a victim so he could display his powers. Iron Man vouched for Hawkeye, and he joined the new line-up that included Captain America, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. For more of his story from Marvel.com click here.

Now I guess we’re simply left to wonder where the story will go. It’s been rumored Hulk will serve as the film’s villain, but I can only wonder if they’ll play off the Universal ending to Incredible Hulk or if they will work some magic with the upcoming releases of Thor and Captain America to allude to where the story may take us.

For now it’s expected Ruffalo and Renner will be joined by Downey Jr., Hemsworth and Evans for The Avengers as well as Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. The rest is pretty much up in the air.

The Avengers is currently set for a May 4, 2012 release, and will be preceded by Thor on May 6, 2011 and Captain America on July 22, 2011. One thing I think we can be certain on, Warner Bros. will be looking at this closely as they at one time were trying to get a Justice League film off the ground. I just wonder if it is at all possible for the WB to successfully restart the Superman franchise and then somehow convince Christian Bale to come back as Batman for an ensemble film. Would it take Christopher Nolan coming back for such a thing to happen?

Rumors continue to persist saying his brother Jonah Nolan is the frontrunner to direct the Superman reboot (currently rumored to be titled Superman: Man of Steel), a film Chris is serving as overseer on and David Goyer is working on the script. Oh, wouldn’t it be just glorious to see WB look at Paramount’s big superhero movie and do their best to one-up them?

Then again, with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in the bag and the growing expectations concerning Batman 3, my guess is Nolan himself is done with Batman once the third film is completed. Though his influence is likely to remain.