‘Hulk’ Star Eric Bana Is Happy He’s Not A Franchise Hulk

Published 2 years ago by

Hulk Marvel Movie Universe Avengers Eric Bana Interview Hulk Star Eric Bana Is Happy Hes Not A Franchise Hulk

Out of all the characters featured in Marvel’s The Avengers, The Hulk has had the hardest time on the big screen. By the time Joss Whedon’s superhero team-up film hit theaters, its Hulk (actor Mark Ruffalo) was the third onscreen iteration of the character that fans had seen in the 21st century, after actors Eric Bana and Edward Norton played the character in 2003 and 2008, respectively.

With the Marvel Movie Universe alive and thriving, people tend to ponder Hulks past and Hulk’s future – which is still uncertain at this time. Recently Eric Bana was once again dragged into the Hulk conversation – and according to the actor, not being THE franchise Hulk is something he does not at all regret.

Bana of course starred in Life of Pi director Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk adaptation – a film released during the dawn of the modern superhero blockbuster, when the thought of seeing something like Avengers was still just a fan’s wishful thinking. While full of Lee’s technical prowess – the film is structured to literally be a moving comic book – many fans still felt disappointed with the end result – especially  the look and design of the CGI Hulk featured in that film.

Eric Bana in Hulk 2003 Hulk Star Eric Bana Is Happy Hes Not A Franchise Hulk

Eric Bana in ‘Hulk’ (2003)

In speaking with Huffpo, Bana was still saying his Mea culpas to fans who felt betrayed by Hulk:

I’m proud of what it tried to do. I apologize to all those people who were so angry about it… I’m fascinated by the people who hated that movie and feel compelled to watch it again, which always blows my mind. But, yeah, it is what it is and I certainly don’t regret doing it.

Of course, having pride in his work in one film is one thing; however, Bana is also quite clear that he does not envy the position of actors like Ruffalo, who is locked into the Hulk role for the long term of Marvel’s movie universe expansion:

I think I’m so lucky it didn’t happen. So, I think the opposite — one of the things I was most fearful of at the time is it being a huge success [laughs]… I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunities that I’ve had the last 10 years — so I wouldn’t want to change that for anything. Everyone’s career is different and I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been exciting — it would have been a different thing… And I’ve really enjoyed my ride.

Interestingly enough, given how most hardcore fans view the eras of comic book movies in the early vs. late-2000s,  Bana (as first prompted by the interviewer) makes the assertion that – in some ways – Lee’s film was ahead of the curve: “…it was the first of the “dark” take. Make no mistake.”

CGI Hulk in Hulk 2003 Hulk Star Eric Bana Is Happy Hes Not A Franchise Hulk

In the era of brooding and character-driven superhero movies, Hulk, it could be argued, fits better alongside the latter 2000s films than it did in the more lighthearted time of early 2000s superhero films. Certainly the examination of Bruce Banner’s daddy and rage issues closer mirrors Dark KnightMan of SteelAmazing Spider-Man or The Wolverine than it does, say, Daredevil – though it likely still wouldn’t fit in with the more fantastical and adventure-driven films in Marvel’s “Phase One” lineup.  

Despite how time may have softened fans’ perspective, Hulk seems destined to go down as that one-off red-headed stepchild of Marvel superhero movies – while the debate about how it could’ve been received if it had been released in the Dark Knight era will likely continue for years to come.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


At the moment, it seems like we won’t see Hulk onscreen again until The Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1, 2015.

Source: HuffPo

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  1. I thought Eric Bana did a fine job as Banner. I always bought his “repressed anger itching to get out”… but I thought Ang Lee’s directing was utterly pretentious. I personally don’t fault Bana for the failings of Hulk in any way.

    • Agreed… While Ruffalo has made a nice fit as Banner/Hulk in Avengers, liked Bana’s protrayal of Banner over Ed Norton hands down. I always felt Bana made a better Banner, likened to Bill Bixby. I also preferred Sam Elliot’s “Colonel Ross” over William Hurt. As for Betsy, I could have cared less, although I preferred the Brainy Betsy script wise from the first movie.

      While I agree that the Story and Direction of “Hulk” itself had issues, there were some parts of the story I liked that have not been brought up… The more mad Hulk became, the larger and stronger he got. By the time “The Incredible Hulk” arrived, CGI and Motion Capture improvements gave Hulk a more natural appearance and motion, but I think the trade off was dropping the “getting larger when angrier”. If there is to be another Hulk movie, I think we are looking at a Red Hulk and/or Planet Hulk back story. As for the first movie being the “Red Headed Step Child”, I don’t think so; otherwise, “The Incredible Hulk” would have been a complete reboot. Instead they started off with Banner in South America where he was headed at the end of the first movie, and didn’t do an entire rehash of his origin… Just a few revisionist flashbacks.

    • Rufflo IS the Banner, which Bana couldn’t be…it what is smart fans want from Hulk. :)

      • Its just a way to call everyone who disagrees with you stupid.
        Any arguments about Ruffalo being a better Banner?

        • To me, Ruffalo was NOT Banner…I just could not buy into his portrayal.


          1. Bixby
          2. Norton
          3. Bana
          6. Ruffalo

      • Ruffalo is not “the Banner” anymore than Michael Keaton is “the Batman.” He’s a Hulk, but no actor is bigger than the character they portray. Not even Robert Downey Jr. can say he’s bigger than that, because sooner or later, there will be another…

  2. I don’t believe for a minute that Eric Bana is ‘glad’ that he didn’t get trapped in the Hulk/Avengers franchise role.

    I mean…why on earth would you want to be trapped in a role where you’re a main character, in a multi-film series, where the first installment is the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time? You’d be crazy to want that…right?? right…*crickets*

    I think he’s trying very hard to convince himself.

    • Or he just doesn’t want that kind of pressure in his life -_-
      Not all actors want that kind of stardom. Chris Evans almost passed on the role of Cap because he was hesitant of how it would change his life.

      I assume many actors have passed on big roles in favor for other things they’d rather do.

      • That reminds me of “That guy… who was in that thing” docu on Netflix. It would be great to be able to act, a lot, get paid… but also go to the store or the mall or a bar without people swarming you.

    • If you are locked into a franchise, you have to pass on a TON of good scripts. That is the main reason why Christian Bale wanted out. Money isn’t everything. Well, to everyone but you apparently.

        • No…not if you want a life.

      • Well, there’s also the chance to work with amazing actors like Academy and Emmy award nominee, multiple Golden Globe winner RDJ, Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow, Academy Award nominee Sam Jackson, among many others. Not to mention that there is certainly an opportunity to build a great, in-depth and conflicted character no matter what film your in, ie. Tom Hiddleston as Loki.

        Also, just because you’re ‘locked’ into a franchise doesn’t mean you can’t do numerous other movies. RDJ was in several movies in-between his Iron Man and Avengers movies; Tropic Thunder, Due Date, The Soloist, and 2 (count ’em)..2 different Sherlock Holmes films.

        You’re right, it’s not always about money, but his emphatic ‘Whew! good thing I didn’t get stuck in some franchise’ drivel is pretty ridiculous and unbelievable.

        • Only to star-f*cking groupies like yourself. You’de die to get it. Thats why you dont understand that, yes, some actors, Bale included who actually do this for a living dont want to be trapped for their entire career in one role with one studio. They own you for that contract period

    • There are a lot of actors that would rather play the one off parts then to be trapped in roles that limit their exploration of their art. Look at Sam Rockwell, Catherine Keener, Tom Hardy. I’m with Bana. I’d rather be able to play any number of characters and take my chances trying to squeeze out as many great performances as I could rather then be stuck ina role that, to be honest, can’t really be taken seriously in the long run.

      • I think people will be talking about Tom Hiddleston’s role as Loki for years to come. I think he was able to ‘explore’ his art and bring real drama to that character. Just because the movie is a superhero action flick, doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to expand and flex your acting chops.

        • I don’t…except (maybe) people like us on sites like this.

    • I agree. Since he wasn’t cast in the later versions, what else is he gonna say? If he complains he comes off bitter or as a jerk.

      I have to admit I’m not much of a Bana fan. Didn’t much care for him in Star Trek either.

    • Don’t know what happened but my comments below belong here.

    • I give up. The comments belong after Gary’s post.

  3. I think 2003’s Hulk was definitely 5 years ahead of it’s time. I don’t think audiences were ready for that kind of superhero movie at that time. I actually want to watch Hulk and just look at it for what it is. I love anything they was ahead of it’s time.

  4. I think Hulk’s a great movie. such a OOT Nick Nolte performance.

    • I agree. I never thought it was bad personally. I felt that it would be one of those gems that people would enjoy years after.

  5. besides the stupid dogs and rock guy it was much better than the incredible hulk. it also fits in more with the avengers hulk – he likes the anger and embraces it rather than just tripping out and not realizing what happened.

    • I agree, as much as I like Edward Norton, Eric Bana is a much better Bruce Banner. Ruffalo is okay, but there is something about Eric Bana when he seems to be angry, he IS ANGRY!!! lol.

      Besides, am I the only one who enjoyed the Green Chocolate Syrup when that movie came out? Turning your poo green too. XD XD

      Good times.

  6. I just love how Bana strokes his ego by being grateful he wasn’t in the new Hulk and tied to the series! Who wants to be tied to a stupendous role, participant in a Billion dollar franchise and locked into potential multi million dollar deals for future movies????? No actor ever wants thaaaaat!!!!!! Don’t worry Bana…the fans still love your for trying! But don’t save face by lieing through your teeth acting like you’re happy you’re not involved in Marvels dominance of the film industry! Hey Bana…why do you think Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow agreed to be in Ironman??? Because they were tired of doing low budget movies no one ever watches!!!

    • Again. As an actor in a franchise you have to pass on a TON of good scripts. Money is everything. Well, to everyone but you and the guy above apparently.

    • Again. As an actor in a franchise you have to pass on a TON of good scripts. Money isn’t everything. Well, to everyone but you and the guy above apparently.

      • What are you? An intern that gets paid to post on this forum for spin control? lol.

    • Oh look, a guy in the comments section of ScreenRant that thinks he knows more about the business side of an actor’s job than an actor.

      • +1

    • This is why I would never want to be an actor. If he had have taken on the franchise, he’d be dealing with many more of these well structured comments

    • Obviously you don’t know the man’s work. See Chopper, The Time Travelers Wife, or Munich. The guy is an actor. Mark Ruffalo has an impressive list of films as well and most definitely was an actor, though I doubt we’ll find him making pictures like The Last Castle, The Kids Are All Right, or Blindness for awhile. By then, who knows if Hulk will have tanked his career.

  7. Uhh… my comment is awaiting moderation?

  8. Still don’t understand why Ang Lee’s Hulk is considered worse than the Norton crappola. I actually enjoyed Hulk and respected Lee’s aesthetic-similarities to the comic framework where Norton’s was just a retread, plotless, pointless CGI-fest. Easily the worst of all the Marvel franchise.

    • Agreed, in my opinion it was worse off than the first movie, only with improved CGI. o.O

    • Ang Lee’s hulk.

      Was way out of proportion to his size and rage. One rule of hulk, the madder he gets, the bigger he gets. Ang Lee’s hulk was 20 feet tall.

  9. I have always said the firs Hulk was half a good movie. The parts with the actual Hulk were great. The action and the pacing were a blast. Then…. there was the rest of the movie. It was a good performance by Eric Bana who I like as an actor. But, the Banner character was wrong. There was very little chemistry between him and Jennifer Connoly. And did anyone understand any of the lines Nick Nolte was mumbling???

    If the man has made peace with the movie not working, then why would we doubt his word?

  10. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bana pop up in an Avengers movie in some capacity. Just a cameo. It would be funny if him and the current Banner had some sort of interaction. Something like Banner would say “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” and Bana could be like “You wouldn’t like me when I get road rage.” 😀

  11. Who is he trying to kid? His Hulk movie was terrible.

    • Even if it was, his portrayal wasn’t.

  12. Hulk-Poodles made it bad. Evil Nick Nolte made it bad. I did however, LOVE the desert miltary chase. It was so good, it almost redeemed the rest of the movie. But in the end, I just couldn’t get past the Hulk-Poodles.

    • I think the Poodle in ‘Hulk’ was a standard size Poodle which were historically used as hunt dogs and retrievers. There should be no embarrassment in discovering this. Lots of people today don’t understand that this breed was used in the past for these purposes and just think of them as performance or companion dogs. However these dogs have been used in war time in the past, they can be easily trained, and can have a very intense desire to retrieve. I think that is what the purpose of the Poodle was in the movie. Once the dogs were suppose to subdue Hulk the Poodle would’ve retrieved him back to David his father.

      David wanted his sons power. This is reinforced later at the end when David tries to obtain Bruce’s power for himself. Lee’s story was a little too smart for its own good and lost its audience in a number of places…

    • Completely agree. I still pop the movie in and just watch that scene.

  13. To be honest I thought Eric did an awesome job as the Hulk. The way he played that character was way better than Norton and Ruffalo, because he showed the persona of someone with hidden anger.

  14. Hello, Kofi. My comment is still awaiting moderation 7 hours after I posted it and there’s not a single expletive in it. Could you get the moderator to address it please?

  15. He was to busy with “The Time Traveler’s Wife” franchise anyways.

  16. Good Guy Eric Bana.

  17. Not a film critic…. so what exactly is WRONG with Ang Lee’s Hulk.

    The CG for the time looks decent…. a bit plastic looking now admittedly. I liked the whole comic frames and wipes and zooms, gives it a nice energy.

    The ending is super pants with the whole cloud/absorbing man thing going on, it’s Hulk, should finish with a slobber knocker. Jen is well better than Liv. Sam Elliot = Never a Bad Thing.

    Mutant Poodles, okay I’ll give you that one, bad idea but there was no physical threat for the Hulk to SMASH apart form some army dudes so they had to shoehorn something in.

    It was more a Banner film than Hulk, looking at the source of Banner’s rage. The added genetic / nano tech angle help sell the believability of the big green rage monster (changed for the Avengers to the Ultimates explination)

    Interested…. what does peoples not like about Ang’s Hulk??

    • I did not like the comic panel structure…it was annoyingly distracting and silly. The large, irradiated dogs were simply goofy.

  18. Ang Lee’s vision for the Hulk was certainly ahead of the curve. But certainly the CGI let him down. The narrative structure was also suspect. I felt the movie struggled with knowing what to be – a serious film? A comic-book film? both?

    This I think goes to the heart of why it didn’t immediately take but will stand the test of time.

    Norton’s portrayal is overrated. He did a good job for sure, but the level of effusiveness is a bit much. That movie as a whole seemed to know what it was better.

    Still think they should give another Hulk movie a shot. Even in a combo movie like The Avengers, Hulk rules.

  19. God forbid an actor actually wants to explore opportunities other than a comic book character who is mainly CGI and requires zero acting ability.

    Marvel, and now DC, signs these guys to massive multi-film deals that sound great until you are in movie 4 of 10 and have to pass on the acting opportunity of a lifetime so you can do motion capture for 3 weeks. If I recall that is why Natalie Portman, Paltrow and even Chris Evans have started grumbling about their deals…many of which do not pay well in regards to the franchise success. Good for Bana in being honest.

  20. I didn’t like the 1st movie because they had a weak villain. I want to see The Hulk be the Hulk and fight someone beside the army. That why i like the Incredible hulk. That’s why i would love to see the Hulk and Red Hulk go at it.
    I would also like to see the Hulk go toe to toe with the cosmic hulk I think the Leader used him. If the next movie had the leader, cosmic and red hulk that would be mind blowing. But 3 hulks in a movie might be to many if the story is not told right. Unless they had red and green fight then get together to stop the leader and cosmic Hulk. This is just wishful thinking i guess.

  21. This whole thing is ridiculous. Hulk was ahead of its time???? . What about the Incredible Hulk ? Was it too late? Come on ! Both movies did approximately the same global box office result with the same budget : they took 250 millions dollars for a budget of about 150 million dollars (marketing and advertisement not included…)

    Time to come to terms with the fact that it’s not necessarily the character the audience wants to see the most. Just because he was a crowd pleaser in a teamup, doesn’t mean he’s popular enough to support its own movie. It’s like having the flash or aqua man in a solo movie… They’re a huge part of the team dynamycs but their universe/personal drama is not necessarily compelling.
    For those movie they should choose tv or have a low budget movie. Fans just don’t seem to realize exactly what kind of money is at stake. The company they work for is probably less worth than the money a single movie cost and yet they seem to not care in the slightest about the way their pipe dreams crash and burn at the box office.

  22. Bana and Connelly were better than Norton and whatshername but the movie was just too odd

  23. He as the hulk was doing a great job.. The story was so-so and a dull movie. The hulk himself looked great. :)

  24. Apparently, I’m part of that tiny fraternity who thought Bana’s/Ang Lee’s Hulk film was a near masterpiece. I genuinely don’t get the gripes about the CGI in that flick. I specifically recall seeing its trailer and thinking the special effects looked unconvincing — but all those concerns evaporated when I sat through an actual, full screening of the film. The sequence starting with the Hulk sprinting through the desert and ending with him melting back into Banner on a San Francisco street is flatly astonishing. I saw this film with my late brother, and we were both taken aback by the dynamism, and even beauty, of that segment.. He turned to me in the theater and literally said something like, “Is it just me, or are you speechless?” The earlier battle with the gamma-empowered dogs was creative and exciting. I agree the final battle with the “Absorbing Man” was very poorly realized in this film; I didn’t even understand that giant electrical cloud was supposed to be the Abosorbing Man until I read him identified as such months later. That WAS a shortfall in this movie. But Nolte’s performance as the brilliant but warped scientific-genius father of Banner? Typically (for a Nolte performance) spellbinding. The Ang Lee Hulk is not my favorite Marvel film (that would be The Avengers followed by Iron Man) but it’s in the top five.

  25. I liked HULK. I like Bana.

  26. They have all given pretty good performances as Bruce Banner – but as a life long Hulk fan of 40 years – none-of-them are the perfect Banner.
    Like the HULK has never been the perfect Hulk…Avengers saw him progress – but I want to see more than just the monster smashing stuff – Hulk talks/thinks/feels…is not Banner…he is much much more than that.