Norton, who played Dr. Bruce Banner and his hot-headed monstrous alter-ego in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, was set to reprise his role in the 2012 star-studded superhero blockbuster - but he has been taken out of the running by executives at Marvel Studios.
President of Production Kevin Feige publicly announced on Sunday (11Jun10) that Norton would be replaced by an actor who "embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members".
The Fight Club star is taking the dismissal in his stride, insisting he's "grateful" to have had a shot at the role before negotiations came to a halt and he's thanking fans for their support.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Norton writes, "As most of you know, I don't like to talk much about the business of making movies because it means a lot to me to protect the audience's fullest enjoyment of the 'magic' that films can have,.
"But I am so appreciative of the outpouring of support from fans of the Hulk and The Avengers that I feel it would be rude not to respond. So there it goes: It seems it won't work out for me to continue playing Bruce Banner for Marvel in The Avengers. I sincerely hoped it could happen and be great for everyone but it hasn't turned out as we all hoped.
"I know this is disappointing to many people and that makes me sad. But I am so grateful to Marvel for extending the offer and even more so for the chance to be part of the Hulk's long and excellent history. And I really can't thank the fans enough for how much enthusiasm you've sent my way... It means a lot to me.
"I grew up with Banner and Hulk and have been a fan of every incarnation. I'm really proud, and very blessed, to have been one of them and will be thrilled to see him live on through other actors. Hulk is bigger than all of us, that's why we love him, right?"