Ang Lee Was ‘Frustrated’ With ‘Hulk’ Over CGI Pitfalls

Written by on January 30, 2023

“He was swinging for the rafters,” actor Josh Lucas recalled of “genius” director Lee. “I don’t think the technology was quite where his brain was.”

Ang Lee wanted to smash the status quo when it came to CGI effects in the early 2000s.

The “Hulk” (2003) director was allegedly “frustrated” over the gaps in technology when bringing a comic book superhero to the big screen. According to “Hulk” alum Josh Lucas, who starred opposite Eric Bana’s Bruce Banner, director Lee was a “genius” without the proper tools to realize his vision.

“If people ask me who my favorite directors are, I almost invariably will tell you my number one is Ang [Lee],” Lucas told The Playlist. “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.”

Lucas continued, “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.”

The “Sweet Home Alabama” alum added, “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.”

“Hulk” also starred Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Cara Buono, and original Hulk Lou Ferrigno in a cameo role.

Helmer Lee reflected on the film to The Guardian in 2019, saying, “”[Sam Raimi’s] ‘Spider-Man’ came out while I was making ‘Hulk.’ And here I was shooting [a] psychodrama! Back then the system was not as strict as it is today. After ‘Crouching Tiger,’ they must have thought: ‘Maybe this guy can do anything.’ ‘Hulk’ was the one time I had absolute freedom, which may be good or bad. Whatever I wanted, at any expense, was mine. It was like I was on a shopping spree. Anything goes!”

He continued, “I’m still proud of ‘Hulk,’ but I underestimated the power of genre and how you have to wrestle with a general audience. When we are in a cinema, this collective imagination is like a religion. You can’t explain it. That’s the part of moviemaking that humbles you. You don’t always get your way.”

And comparing “Hulk” to 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton, plus the recent Disney/Marvel iterations, Lee said, “I’ve watched them on airplanes. Sometimes with the sound down. I didn’t really care that much. To do that kind of movie, you have to coat it with artifice. I didn’t do that with my Hulk. I went at it straight, as though it was real.”

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