‘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 really enjoyed eric bana in the hulk. he had the emotion for playing the character and i have also enjoyed the movie.

    in my perspective – the hulk in that movie just wanted to be left alone. with all the repressed memories he has, he was like a toddler – tantrums, rage and loneliness. i thought it was an excellent representation of a ‘new born’ hulk on the big screen.

    my most favourite scene was when hulk transformed to banner in the city!

    • Agreed! I have never been disappointed with his performances especially in the Hulk. The character driven story line was very good in fact, it was just the special effects and lack of a compelling villain which the reboot “Incredible Hulk” tried to correct. It is interesting that the remake did not do all that much better either critically (Rotten Tomatoes critic scored Hulk 62% versus Incredible Hulk %67) or financially (Hulk $245,360,480 and Incredible Hulk $263,427,551). Bana was easily one of the best things about Hulk.

      • Incredible Hulk was a pretty good movie. Just remember before what we had was a bodybuilder spay painted green. In the Return of The Incredible Hulk Thor’s outfit matched that of the old vikings instead of the comics. Maybe we’re a little spoiled now a days with all the special effects.

        • i sometimes replace mark ruffalo with eric bana in the avengers in my head lol… i really thought bana had the banner look. i hated how mark kept saying ‘the other guy’ – was so annoying lol

          i’m pretty sure bana would have portrayed bruce better in the avengers :)

    • I liked Bana as Bruce better than Edward Norton.

      • Norton remains my favorite only because I think he sells the wimpy, trying to get by scientist and that deep down, there is a raging boiling deep inside him.

        I like Bana as Banner, but he always looked like he wanted to kill someone lol

        • *raging beast

      • Same.

  2. Wonder what Thor woulda looked like in that universe. Just something to think about.

  3. I alway’s liked the movie…. amd still do :)

  4. I want to rewatch it. I saw it once years ago and was bored to tears. I did rewatch the action scenes a few times tho (I had rented it) as those were pretty cool even though they were pretty short.

  5. I have a feeling it will be more popular in 50 years. That is kind of Ironic but That is my Feeling of it. :)

  6. The screen shots look like a PS3 game, lol.

  7. The cgi was meh and the menacing poodle was bunk..but i think he captured the character beautifully

    • I forgot about those dogs!! My siblings and I called them the pizza dogs because one of them had a head shaped like a pizza and they drooled alot.

  8. Despite the films shortcomings which grow shorter with time
    Eric Bana gave an excellent performance centering the film.
    The psychological torments were overplayed by Lee and
    became heavy-handed by the end spoiling the show.

    The CGI was state of the art for the time and worked
    well enough and even had some jolting moments
    that were very dramatic and convincing.

    One cannot fault Bana for fears of being locked in
    to a franchise which is a common fear actors
    have including a few actors now locked in.

    • This comment is sort of broken up
      like a Haiku.

      Eric Bana’s Banner acting
      was better than me or you.

      (I always thought highly of it – it was jarring as a follow up to Spider Man bc/ it wasn’t very light-hearted & Nick Nolte was a somewhat confusing villain. But I’ll be happy w/ Ruffalo at the helm. Bana gave a very good performance, & Norton was a very good choice for a very different Marvel Studios. Then Avengers happened.)

      • Ruffalo is far from the worst choice, but I would gladly prefer yet another new Bruce Banner.

        I don’t get the praise for Ruffalo. I don’t see any effort put into his performance, I felt like I was watching a crippled version of his performance in “Shutter Island” where he played a psychologist in disguise. I just see Mark Ruffalo reading some lines and being the awkward guy again.

        Sure, maybe Norton was being himself in his Hulk as one might argue, but at least Norton’s personality fits well enough into a character like Bruce Banner.

      • I had Japanese for lunch.

  9. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the first Hulk movie, only the Incredible Hulk. I don’t blame Eric Bana for not wanting to be tied down to a franchise. It could be a good thing and can also be a bad thing, plus Eric Bana is a great actor whose talent can be used in several other types of films.

  10. The film was well done. The CGI at that time was as good as it could get. The one problem was the height of the Hulk. Hulk is the strongest there is, not the biggest there is.

    • Yeah that was interesting. He just kept getting bigger and bigger the madder he got. There was no set height like in the Incredible Hulk or the Avengers.

  11. I really liked the first hulk movie. I was just a young teen when it came out but even ten years later I can appreciate what they were going for and Bana’s take on it was memorable. I feel like TIH should’ve been more a disjointed sequel than an out right reboot, than again that’s how I look at the two films already. It’s truly a testimate to the character of Banner that 3 super good actors have taken on the role and all performed marvelously. Can’t wait for a Ruffalo solo hulk film.

  12. I thought Bana did a wonderful job capturing Banner’s essence, but I really found the comic book panels and the “Hulk dogs” dumb.

    • Yes, the panels were horrible.

      • I agree – I can appreciate what Lee was going for, but it ended up having the opposite effect and constantly took me out of the film.

        • (@ Archaeon)

          • Same here…I appreciated the effort but NOT the result.

            For the record, Bana is my second favorite cinematic portrayal of Banner/Hulk. He does an excellent job in the role(s), but I personally find Norton takes it to an even higher level.. Ruffallo STILL hasn’t convinced me he is Banner (though his Hulk IS quite amusing). My overall FAVORITE portrayal of the character, however, remains Bill Bixby…just a stunning performance week after week, even in a cheesy ’70s action show.

            • Sigh…I think I put too many consonants in movie Hulk #3’s name. C’est la vie.

            • I really like Norton because the way they went about his portrayal was a LOT like the Bixby show, which is still very entertaining today.

              When Norton became out of the picture, I was quite sad. Ruffalo…is just not the Bruce Banner I know. I questioned Norton when the trailers came out for TIH, but when I saw the movie I was like, “Dear God, I hope he stays”.

              Ruffalo never did that for me, marketing and actually acting which matters. I hate how they went about Hulk; that his transformation is just generic and only takes a few seconds.

              To me, the best part of a Hulk is the transformation from Banner to Hulk. It’s like an episode of Twilight Zone compacted into one segment: you know something is going to happen, Banner is trying everything to keep himself in balance, he thinks it’s safe, and then WHAM, something takes him by surprise. The eyes turn green, his pupils shrink, he begins to sweat, and he collapses somewhere into the darkness. Silence. Then the Hulk emerges.

              It’s what Bixby, Norton, and somewhat Bana did REALLY well.

  13. Well it’s good to see many positive comments now about Eric Bana and Ang Lee’s version. I still rate it as one of the best CBM around.

    It worked very well in adding psychological depths to the character, trying to make it more than someone who turns green and smashes things up. It was composed and beautifully filmed and quite innovative with the whole split screen, comic panel look it presented. Still one of the best scenes is when the family secret is revealed and nothing tops that image of Hulk swinging that tank around.

    It was just too intelligent for a first Hulk movie on the big screen at the time. Admittedly it was lacking in spectacle for a lot of the film and if it’s one thing a Hulk film has to be, then it’s action packed.

    The 2008 film did try to remedy that flaw with superior effects and sequences but it lacked the substance of Ang Lee’s film which is a lot more appreciated now.

    If you merged the best qualities of both 2003 and 2008 movies together , you probably have ther perfect 3 hour long comic book movie.

  14. Claiming the movie was ahead of it’s time is a bit of an exaggeration. I think there were elements of it that showed some advanced thinking but I wasn’t feeling the father’s hounds from hell as a viable adversary to the hulk(among other shortcomings). I remember thinking at the time and since that it was reviewed rather harshly, but it seems each time the hulk shows up on the screen in a movie, the effort is there to try and do a little better each time. I have to say that is a good side effect to the multiple attempts at hulk.

  15. Eric Bana was a good Bruce Banner. I really like him in the movie… there wasn’t much else I liked about it though.

  16. Eric Bana is one of the most underrated actors in my opinion. He has more range than most A – list actors and to me you can put him in any film and a good performance from him is like money in the bank. Some people think I am crazy but I rank his portrayal of Nero in Star Trek (2009) is up there with (although not better than) Heath Ledger’s Joker the difference being that Bana had to share screen time with the entire crew of the Enterprise plus one extra Spock. I am not sure why he has not anchored a franchise although it sounds like that is not his cup of tea. Both he and another horribly underrated actor, Edgar Ramirez, are two people I would love to see in some future action or comic inspired films.

    • Although I liked his portrayal of Nero, I found the character woefully underdeveloped, and his motivations made no sense at all.

      • What do you mean his motivations made no sense?

        • Romulus is threatened by a star going supernova, Spock promises to help, tries, fails through no fault of his own. Nero somehow manages to find this sufficient reason to take revenge against not only Spock – not only the whole of Vulcan – but Earth and every other Federation planet as well.

          Finding himself transported back into a past where Romulus still exists, does he alert his younger self to the danger ahead? Does he alert anyone anywhere at all, or try to prevent the destruction of his homeworld in any way? No. He hangs around in space for twenty years waiting for Spock, despite not knowing when, or even if, Spock will appear. I gather the Countdown comic book has him warning Romulus and being dismissed, but in terms of the film alone, practically nothing he does has any logic to it.

          I still enjoyed the film, though; I just try not to dwell on the details too much…

          • My understanding is that he blamed the federation for the energy crisis that was happening on Romulus. This was why they needed the Federation’s help and could not help themselves. So Nero felt they were dependent on the Federation and he harbored animosity toward them. He had just discovered a new form of energy while on the mining planet that would have made Romulus a super power and able to rival the Federation. So when the planet was destroyed he thought that the Federation had allowed it to happen on purpose so that Romulus could never be a threat to them. That was supposed to be the full reasoning behind his hatred for the Federation and specifically Spock.

            As to why he did not alert his younger self…there is no reason to believe he did not plan to do this AFTER he destroyed Vulcan and attacked the Federation since it is not like the supernova was imminent. Sure it might make sense to do so in case you fail but Nero was mad.

            Now! After typing all of that I cannot for the life of me remember how I know that information so it is a statement cannot stand behind. I never read the comic prequels. But I might have heard it from a Trekkie who of course follows these kinds of things. But…point taken!

  17. Nero stood out to me also. .

  18. “Certainly the examination of Bruce Banner’s daddy and rage issues closer mirrors Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Amazing Spider-Man or The Wolverine than it does, say, Daredevil”

    Whoa whoa whoa. Let me interject here. This is wrong. I’ve read Screenrant say in the past, and I would agree with this, that Daredevil was a dark movie. Not a good movie, but it was definitely going for dark. Darker than most other CBMs besides the Dark Knight trilogy. And it came out several months before Hulk.

    • Yeah, Daredevil was not a good example to use there; it is a dark film. So were the X-Men films to a degree, so claiming that the early/late 2000s break down as light/dark is not neccessarily super accurate.

  19. I love Ang Lee’s Hulk film. It’s one of the most ambitious, and to me beautiful, (superhero) films ever made. And what a great cast – Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot. But I do understand why not everyone likes it.

    The Incredible Hulk did not do as much for me. Anyway though, I think that Ruffalo is a good guy to move forward with.

  20. Bana has nothing to apologize for. It just did not work. I mean Hulk Poodles… not much to work with.

  21. The way Hulk dispatches with the tanks in the desert was awesome, he uses the barrel as a baseball bat. Truly one of my favorite scenes of destruction ever.

  22. Just remembered, didn’t he destroy the giant pitbulls jaw by flexing a shoulder muscle?

  23. I cant recall exactly but i think the more angry he gets the bigger he gets which i think was used in the comics…i cant remember its been awhile since i read comics

  24. Bana was alright. I liked him in some parts.

    But the movie itself is just…

    Dull. I’m not asking for a Michael Bay film, but a lot of things weren’t really entertaining. If I wanted a full character study on someone, I wouldn’t be looking anywhere in the superhero genre at that time.

    Nolan’s Batman, as much as I don’t like the post-Begins stuff, did manage to keep people entertained while revealing more aspects of the character (well, I guess Begins was enough characterization for Batman in Nolan’s mind as it trails off in TDK and TDKR). Daredevil has some great, entertaining moments that are smart, fun, and actually make a lot of sense when you think about it.

    Hulk is just bland. Hulk is like watching Discovery Channel film a documentary about the effects of gamma radiation and The Hulk just shows up to get more ratings.

  25. He would probably have made an awesome Batman

    • +1

  26. i still say sam elliott was a better thunderbolt ross than william hurt

    • Totally agree!

      • 3x that.

  27. That was a great quote. Asking someone “what are your thoughts about that movie you were in that people hated and how do you feel about them replacing you” could turn out mean reactions, but Bana handled it like a pro. I think he’s a good actor, despite his Hulk role. “Munich” was just awesome (preggo sex scene included).

  28. Well, the Hulk movie with Bana was the first movie that led me to strongly consider leaving the theater before the movie had ended. I am very glad that Bana did not play the Hulk again.

    • That movie for me was Godzilla with Matthew Broderick. I actually did leave the theater. That movie was unwatchable.

  29. My main problem with the Hulk was actual editing, it just peeves me off, it’s as though Ang Lee filmed so much that the only way he could fit it into the 138 mins was to show it as though it’s an actual comic with the bloody windows, totally awful.

    If the film was edited to a conventional standard it would be much more watchable.

    Secondary problems are Nick Nolte’s acting, which is… well just childish, as though he could give a crap about the material, and he’s just in it for the paycheck.

    Last but not least, those damn dogs, just totally ridiculous!