Yellowstone star Josh Lucas reflects on Ang Lee's Hulk movie
Yellowstone's Josh Lucas looks back at the failure of Ang Lee's Hulk and how the technology of comic book movies has changed and improved since then.
Yellowstone's Josh Lucas reflects on how the 2003 Ang Lee movie "The Incredible Hulk" is different from the comic book movies of today. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes over movie theaters and re-establishes Marvel as a pop culture mainstay, Marvel Studios is still working on translating their characters into movie formats for the masses. These include Universal Pictures' adaptation of "The Incredible Hulk," which was produced by film director Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). While the film was a financial success, it divided critics and audiences alike, with fans generally disappointed by the adaptation and Lee himself calling the film a failure in his critically acclaimed film resume .
One of the actors in The Hulk was Lucas, who had worked on other successful projects such as Yellowstone, in the role of Glenn Talbot, Bruce Banner's (Eric Bana's) nemesis. While talking to Playlist, Lucas reflected on the film, and while he didn't necessarily defend it, he did dig into why the film came to be the way it was, pointing to the film's technique and timing. How Complicated The Hulk's Looks And Powers Are Yes, it makes sense that Lucas sees this as a challenge to Lee, and it's one of the reasons for the film's downfall. Read Lucas' full quote below:
I think the technology evolved, and [Ang Lee is] 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.
How The Hulk Has Changed Since Ang Lee's Version
Despite how the Hulk ended, Lucas has been very supportive of Lee and even considers him one of the best filmmakers around. He singles out the Pi's fantasy adrift, and how Hulk's technology serves as a precedent for Lee challenging VFX artists and pushing for great visuals. While the Hulk cut has been maligned for its poor reproduction and sheer redundancy of comic panels, Lucas praised the decision, noting that most comic book movies today don't emulate the style.
The Hulk is a character defined by his rage and strength, and Lee's interpretation surprisingly downplays these things. After Kevin Feige revamped and announced the MCU, Universal's reboot of The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton, accurately portrayed the character's struggle as genius and rampaging monster. It wasn't until The Avengers that audiences fully fell in love with Mark Ruffalo's character. with Marvel Studios is known for the unique creative freedom of its characters, with the Hulk transforming from a mindless monster into a massive super-bodied genius dubbed the "Smart Hulk." Since then, the Hulk has been seen as a major character in the MCU.
Lee is still considered a great filmmaker, so it's a shame he wasn't able to use his talents in The Hulk. He has previously stated that while he is proud of the film, he understands his limitations and is corrupted by the technical freedom the film affords him. Lee's return to the comics is unlikely, as he seems content to work on more personal projects. Although the movie flopped, it did help the Hulk gain more recognition as an iconic Marvel superhero, and paved the way for the success of the MCU and other young filmmakers.