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Stan Lee Made His First Cameo in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk 32 Years Ago Today

  • On May 7, 1989, NBC premiered The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, the second of three TV-movies that continued the saga that began with CBS' The Incredible Hulk series from the 1970s. Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno reprised their roles as David Banner and the Hulk, respectively, for this attempt at a backdoor pilot for a Daredevil series. Rex Smith co-stars as the first-ever live action version of Matt Murdock, who would later be played by Ben Affleck in the 2003 feature film, and Charlie Cox in Netflix's Daredevil. John Rhys-Davies (Sliders) also stars as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, who was later portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan with Affleck, and by Vincent D'Onofrio opposite Cox.

    Smith's version of Marvel's "Man Without Fear" never made it to series, but the film did mark the first-ever Stan Lee cameo in a live-action Marvel project, which would become a tradition until his death in 2018 at the age of 95. In this clip, you can see him in the jury during the trial sequence in which Banner transforms into the Hulk on the witness stand. One of the criticisms of the film was that this only happened in a dream, and there was no actual trial in the movie. Lee and Ferrigno would cameo together in Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk film, and separately in Louis Leterrier's 2008 Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Incredible Hulk.

    It's worth noting that Jack "King" Kirby, the co-creator of the Hulk (and Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Black Panther, and many Marvel characters that Lee too often tends to get sole credit for), beat Lee to the punch in this area, landing his own cameo in a 1979 episode of The Incredible Hulk as a sketch artist.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Marvel, Daredevil, The Incredible Hulk, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Stan Lee