Is Marvel’s The Punisher Returning?
Thomas Jane wants to direct Jon Bernthal in a new Punisher adventure
The Marvel character of ‘The Punisher‘ has a varied history when it comes to appearing on the screen in his various live-action forms. 1989 saw Dolph Lundgren play the tortured character of Frank Castle in a version that was distributed by Carolco Pictures in the United States and New World International around the world. The film bore little resemblance to the Marvel character and committed the cardinal sin of not only not allowing Castle to sport his trademark skull T-shirt but also changed much of the character’s origin story to suit its own needs. Shot in Australia, the film wasn’t brilliant and would be better suited as an action vehicle for Lundgren without the ‘Punisher‘ name. Co-Starring Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr, the film was cartoonish, to say the least.
2004 saw the reboot of the property and character in ‘The Punisher‘. This time, Castle was portrayed by Thomas Jane and contained support from John Travolta, Will Patton, Rebecca Romijn, Samantha Mathis, and the legendary Roy Scheider. Based on two of the stories concerning the character, ‘The Punisher: Year One‘ and ‘Welcome Back, Frank‘, the film didn’t set the box office on fire or was warmly received by the critics. But it was an enjoyable and entertaining reboot of the character and one that deserved better than its fate. However, despite the relative failure of the film, a sequel ‘Punisher War Zone‘ was made four years later, replacing Jane who left the project after creative differences with Ray Stevenson in another reboot for the character. Co-starring Dominic West as the villous Jigsaw, the film was a critical and box office flop, nailing the coffin on the character for eight years. When he reappeared, he was now in the form of Jon Bernthal in what is the quintessential portrayal of the character. After appearing in the second season of Netflix’s ‘Daredevil‘, Bernthal went on to play the character for two seasons in his standalone series before Netflix unceremoniously pulled the plug on all their Marvel content.
Bernthal has expressed interest in returning to the character in the future and the fans were hoping he would. That possibility has gotten a small bit closer from an unlikely turn. Netflix’s rights to the character revert back to Marvel from February of next year and that will free them to use the character when and where they desire. Step forward Thomas Jane himself. The actor, discussing his latest directorial effort with an episode of the series ‘The Expanse‘ has expressed an interest in directing Bernthal in a completely new adventure for Frank Castle. Jane spoke about what he would do with the property if he was afforded the chance to make the new film, saying:
“That would be a fan thing. If the fans really wanted me back, and we could find a script. See, I think The Punisher, and the reason why I did the short, was that it hasn’t fully been cracked in a way that fully honors the character, Frank Castle, in a film. And I love what Bernthal did on Netflix. I think he’s such a great Punisher. In fact, I would love to direct a Punisher starring Bernthal, because he’s such a great actor”
Regarding his statement about how the character hasn’t been cracked properly yet, Jane went on to say:
“We couldn’t make a dark film when we did Punisher in 2004. We couldn’t go as dark because people just hadn’t trusted, on the production side, that fans would be into that. But, now we’ve shows like ‘The Boys’ and, of course, ‘The Dark Knight’ came out after The Punisher, where I think that producers and studios are now aware that there’s a real audience for the darkness, the ‘Taxi Driver’-Esque quality that you could pull out of a Frank Castle, and that hasn’t been done. And I would love to do that. But again, we have to take it to a place where, frankly, The Punisher has always wanted to go”
I enjoyed the portrayal Thomas Jane brought to the character back in 2004 and would have loved to see him appear in a sequel. Alas, it wasn’t to be but I’m intrigued by the possibility that he could be behind the camera as he and Jon Bernthal bring Frank Castle back to the big screen together. Bernthal gave us a taste of what he could do as Castle during the prison cell scene in the second season of ‘Daredevil‘ in what has to go down in history as the perfect incarnation of the character, The scene in question was violent, bloodthirsty, gory, nasty and totally in keeping with the character. And was superb. If it comes to pass, then I’m all for seeing this darker version of the comic-book character. The final decision rests with Marvel itself but if they were to do the smart and honorable thing and give Frank Castle carte blanche to blast his way across the screen in a hard R rated film, then I, for one, am in.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!