Of all the Marvel Comics characters who has been making his way into movies in recent years, Hulk arguably has had the rockiest road. While the character gained a great deal of notoriety thanks to the Incredible Hulk television show, and was considered by many to be the best part of Joss Whedon's The Avengers, the two solo features in which he has starred in the past 15 years didn't go over nearly as well with audiences or critics. So what's the reason behind this? Well, the monster's original creator, Stan Lee, believes that the films simply make him too powerful for his own good.
The Marvel Comics founder recently sat down for an extensive interview with Rolling Stone to talk about The Hulk - who is featured on this month's cover - and it was during the conversation that Lee revealed his thoughts about how Hulk should operate in a solo film. Asked straight up why he thought that both Ang Lee's Hulk and Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk didn't work, the comic book legend explained,
Well, my own feeling is that in the first two, they made him too powerful. I never conceived of him that way, and I didn't think it was necessary for him to be that big. I thought he could’ve been seven and a half feet tall. That's quite enough.
Whether or not the character's power was the reason, fans definitely didn't respond to Hulk and The Incredible Hulk in nearly the same way that they did to Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Guardians of the Galaxy. Neither movie really managed to spark any deep love from critics, and both wound up under-performing at the box office domestically. Ang Lee's film failed to make its budget back, grossing $132 million in North America and having a $137 million budget; and Leterrier's movie didn't do any better, costing $150 million and only bringing in $134 million back.
You'll note, however, that Stan Lee specifies "the first two" Hulk films, clearly indicating that his opinion about the live-action version of the green monster changed after seeing The Avengers. The Hulk creator only made this view clearer when discussing the performances he's seen from Mark Ruffalo on the big screen. Said Lee,
Oh, he's wonderful. Nobody could do it better. I think the Hulk is the real Mark. I think he's acting when he's playing a regular human being.
Right now, audiences around the world are seeing Hulk back in action on the big screen in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the future of the character is a bit of a mystery at this point, as there is no Hulk film scheduled between now and 2019. So basically, enjoy him while he's here!