Hulk Alum Josh Lucas On Why He Thinks Director Ang Lee Was ‘Frustrated’ While Making The Marvel Movie

Nowadays we’re so accustomed to seeing numerous superhero movies every year that it’s hard to remember a time when Marvel adaptations were not commonplace. Among the Marvel movies not associated with the MCU was 2003’s Hulk directed by Ang Lee and starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott and Josh Lucas. When Lucas recently reflected on the Marvel movie as it soon turns 20, he recalled its director being “frustrated.” 

Hulk was the first movie adaptation of the Marvel Comics character following Lou Ferrigno previously playing the hero in the ‘70s and ‘80s for television. When Josh Lucas spoke about his time playing Glenn Talbot in the movie with The Playlist, the actor said this: 

If people ask me who my favorite directors are, I almost invariably will tell you my number one is Ang [Lee]. I don’t use this word genius, but I think he’s truly up there as a, if not brilliant, genius filmmaker. Like you say, he was swinging for the rafters on [‘Hulk’]. I don’t think the technology was quite where his brain was. And if you look at what he did with ‘Life of Pi,’ he was able to hit it out of the park. 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.

Ang Lee is an incredibly talented filmmaker who was hot off his epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when he made Hulk. The 2003 movie was among the top 20 highest-grossing movies of 2003, per Box Office Mojo, and it was praised by critics for its ambition and style, however, it never became a favorite among Marvel fans. Lucas continued: 

The way he was morphing, the way pages were flipping, I mean, he was creating a visual comic book. And I haven’t seen anybody do it quite the same way he was doing it – think about it, that’s twenty years ago, right? So, there’s an incredible auteur filmmaker beneath this monster, an early Marvel movie. I have nothing but respect for it.

Lucas brings up a valid point about early Marvel movies when speaking about Ang Lee. The technology to show off superhuman abilities like Hulk just wasn’t there yet. One can imagine if you want to bring to screen a character as great as Bruce Banner, but CGI wasn’t in the right place yet, you’d feel like Lee did too. Though, the late Stan Lee, who co-created the character actually felt the reason why the first two Hulk movies didn’t work was because they made Hulk “too powerful.” 

Lee wouldn’t go on to continue the Hulk franchise, even though he had an idea lined up for the sequel. Marvel would go on to give the whole thing a remake with Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk in 2008 before recasting the role for 2012’s The Avengers with our MCU Hulk, Mark Ruffalo. Apparently, Norton and Ruffalo joke about the Hulk role too, with Ruffalo once saying they think it’s “our generation’s Hamlet” and it’s sure to be remade again. And, I mean it kind of was with the great MCU series, She-Hulk, but that’s a whole other comic book hero of course. 

If you’re feeling nostalgic for another time in Marvel movies, you can check out 2003’s Hulk with a Hulu subscription. And, we’ll keep you updated regarding what’s next for Hulk in the MCU here on CinemaBlend. 

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