Stan Lee Got ‘Angry’ Filming His First Marvel Cameo for ‘The Incredible Hulk’

Stan Lee made dozens of guest appearances in various Marvel projects over the years. But when he made his very first cameo in The Incredible Hulk, the experience didn’t turn out the way Lee expected.  

‘The Incredible Hulk’ was a TV series that premiered in the late ‘70s

Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee pretending to fight
Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee celebrate ‘The Incredible Hulk’ | Robert Mora/Getty Images

Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the Hulk for Marvel comics in 1962. But it wasn’t until 1977 that the superhero made it to screen. The Incredible Hulk was the first live-action iteration of the Marvel character. It starred Bill Bixby as Dr. David “Bruce” Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. 

The series ran for five seasons and was accompanied by three TV movies — The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989), and The Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990). 

Stan Lee’s cameo on ‘The Incredible Hulk’ didn’t go the way he expected

Lee made his first Marvel cameo in the 1989 TV movie, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. He did not have a speaking part. But was featured as a jury member that sat in court during the Hulk’s trial. 

“I was the foreman of the jury sitting in the jury box and in one scene, the Hulk gets angry and he reaches down and he lifts up the whole jury box with all 12 jurors,” Lee told the Television Academy. “He only lifted about two feet and they jump out of the box in fear. Now obviously there’s a hydraulic lift under that. I mean Lou Ferrigno wasn’t lifting it.”

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Lee said that when the jurors jumped out of the box, he planned on doing the same. But just before he could, the director yelled “cut” and told Lee to move out of the shot. When Lee asked why, the director said it was because a stunt double needed to fill in for him.  

“I was in the jury box and having a great time with my little cameo,” he recalled. “I said, ‘It’s two feet, I could step out.’”

But the director suggested the two-feet jump was still considered a stunt. And he insisted Lee let a stuntman do it. 

“I was so angry,” Lee said. “[It was] my big chance and I couldn’t even jump two feet. But it was great.”

Stan Lee thought the series was brilliant

Lee may not have gotten the action-packed cameo he wanted. But looking back, he felt that The Incredible Hulk series as a whole was brilliant. 

“It was created and done by Kenneth Johnson, who I think did a brilliant job,” Lee said in his chat with the Television Academy. “It was really an adult show about an interesting, complex hero with a lot of personal problems.”

And when speaking of the lead actors, Lee added, “Bill Bixby, who played Bruce Banner who turned into the Hulk, is one of the nicest guys I have ever known. So is Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk. He’s this big muscular guy. He’s one of the sweetest, gentlest men you could ever meet. Everything about that show was good.”