Why Eric Bana’s Hulk Frustrated Director Ang Lee

Still from 2003 Hulk directed by Ang Lee

Actor Josh Lucas, who co-starred with Eric Bana in 2003’s Hulk, explains why the Marvel movie was a frustrating experience for director Ang Lee.

2003’s Hulk starring Eric Bana was a frustrating experience for director Ang Lee.

Bana’s co-star Josh Lucas, who played Glenn Talbot in the character’s first big-screen Marvel adaption, sat down with The Playlist to discuss the latest season of Yellowstone. The conversation soon turned to the actor’s love for Lee as a filmmaker so far ahead of his time making Hulk that his vision was not truly captured because of technical limitations in the production. “If people ask me who my favorite directors are, I almost invariably will tell you my number one is Ang [Lee],” Lucas said.

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Why Ang Lee Struggled With Hulk’s VFX Limitations

He continued, “I don’t use this word genius, but I think he’s truly up there as a, if not brilliant, genius filmmaker. He was swinging for the rafters on [‘Hulk’]. I don’t think the technology was quite where his brain was.”

Hulk was made on the heels of Marvel’s upswing in box office success with Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000 and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and 2002. While those films required actors in cinematic versions of their Marvel Comics costumes, Hulk required extensive CGI to bring the big green guy to life. Even with the best VFX artists at Industrial Light and Magic working on the film, Hulk could not avoid mixed reviews from critics for its CGI being compared to Shrek.

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“If you look at what he did with ‘Life of Pi,’ he was able to hit it out of the park,” Lucas said. “I think the technology evolved, and he’s one of the people who pushed the technology to evolve. I know he was pushing the team of people who were on the CGI of ‘Hulk’ to make something that, technically, maybe wasn’t capable of being at the level he wanted it yet. And so I think he was very frustrated with that movie by not being able to get what he wanted and what was in his brain.”

Lee’s Hulk was approached as a Greek tragedy telling the origin story of Bruce Banner’s (Bana) exposure to gamma radiation that turns him into the incredible one. As he goes on the run from the military led by Thunderbolt Ross (Sam Elliott), Banner collides with his disgraced scientist father (Nick Nolte), who has his own deadly plans for him. Released in June 2003, Hulk could not break even at the box office with $245 million on a $137 million budget.

Hulk Rebooted for the MCU

The Hulk was rebooted for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton, who was later replaced by Mark Ruffalo in 2012’s The Avengers. Despite the MCU exploring the multiverse in recent releases, original Hulk star Bana has no interest in reprising the role. “When I went and did that film, that was, kind of like, pre-Marvel Universe, right? That universe didn’t even really exist. So, it always just felt like a one-time film for me,” Bana said.

Source: The Playlist via IndieWire


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