Monday, July 26, 2010

Punisher War Journal: The Blog File

Frank thinking he's getting too old for this shit.

So this weekend at the San Diego Comic Con (which I sadly did not attend) Marvel announced that they are yet again going to reboot the Punisher film franchise. This will now be the fourth time an attempt has been made to make a movie based on the violent vigilante. The first time was in 1989 with a Dolph Lundgren, followed by Thomas Jane in 2004, and finally (and unfortunately) in 2008 with Ray Setevenson. All three films were far from box office success stories. The upcoming film will be made directly by Marvel who now has complete creative control over the film version of Frank Castle.

I read this news and was actually kind of intrigued. I’m all for Marvel trying again after the last 3 didn’t work. Keep doing it until you get it right I guess. I only have one question: Why hasn’t a good Punisher movie been made?

It’s not like the character is all that complex. Former soldier turned family man Frank Castle’s wife and kids get killed by the mob and he flips out, taking all of his training and exacting vengeance on the criminal underworld of New York with a skull painted on his shirt, and that’s about it. Yet they still find ways to mess it up.

Dolph Lundgren was completely flat in a cheesy direct to video version. Thomas Jane was a great Punisher, but everyone and everything else around him was weak. The Punisher in Florida? Come on. And Ray Stevenson was barely given any lines in Punisher: War Zone, which felt more like a slasher movie than a comic book/action film.

If Marvel wants to do it right they need to get a leading man who can capture the brooding anger and intensity of the Punisher. This guy is a tortured soul to the nth degree and has the training and tools to turn that torture on his enemies. He’s not a traditional super-hero and the film makers that take on the project should be aware of that and should sample ideas and the tone from movies like Taxi Driver and Man on Fire rather than Spider-Man. The Punisher is killing mobsters and common criminals in back alleys, not super villains on roof tops. Frank Castle is more like Travis Bickle than Peter Parker. Movies like the original Mad Max, Death Wish, and even Gran Torino have way more in common with what a Punisher movie should be like than X-Men, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk.

In a perfect world, Martin Scorsese or Tony Scott would be directing this new Punisher movie and they would get a credible actor who could approach the character with the mental, physical, and emotional devotion that he deserves. Like I said, I’m intrigued, but something tells me I should prepare for a fourth disappointment.


  1. You're totally right! I love reading your blog. I can tell you put a lot of thought and care into crafting your entries. I wanna see what you thought about the other major announcements at sdcc.


  2. Punisher movies are so paradoxical. He should be one of the easiest superheroes to make a movie about, yet his movies always suck. I liked War Zone better than the Thomas Jane movie because it was campy bad. Ultraviolent camp- which is intriguing but in no way The Punisher.
    I would like to see Paul Greengrass or Doug Liman have a crack at it. Their handling of violence in the Bourne movies might be a fit for Mr Castle

  3. I would like to see The Punisher directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the man who directed Wanted and is currently working on a sequel. He also is well known for the Nightwatch series and is slated to direct Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I know that his take would be along the same lines as action before acting, but I think that's more realistic than Scorcese agreeing to take on a comic like this. Not that it wouldn't be awesome...