Deadline now reports that Marvel Studios has reached a last-minute deal for Mark Ruffalo to play Bruce Banner, which should allow the actor to fly to San Diego to be introduced with the rest of The Avengers cast at Saturday afternoon's Comic-Con International panel.
Ruffalo replaces The Incredible Hulk star Edward Norton, who was publicly rejected two weeks ago in an unflattering statement released by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. His pointed remarks seemed to lend credence to widely circulated, but frequently denied, reports that Norton had fought with studio executives over the final edits to 2008 film.
The 42-year-old Ruffalo, who's been described as an "actor's actor," has been receiving rave reviews for role in The Kids Are All Right. Reports emerged just last week that he was in “late-stage discussions” to play Banner, so it would seem the pieces fell together rather quickly. Contracts might've been singed a little sooner, but The Wrap earlier today asserted that pay and the number of films to which Ruffalo would commit had become sticking points.
If all goes according to plan, Ruffalo should appear Saturday at the Marvel Studios panel with newly confirmed Avengers director Joss Whedon, and cast members Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. There's a good chance that we'll also see Jeremy Renner, but probably not Nathan Fillion.
The Avengers opens on May 4, 2012.