Five Ways to Make the New ‘Punisher’ Movie Awesome
In the 2000s, two 'Punisher' films hit theaters and neither of them were very good (the less said about the Dolph Lundgren version the better). The first, starring Thomas Jane, was a noble effort but ended up being lifeless. The second - 'Punisher: War Zone' - lost Thomas Jane but gained a lot of blood and gore (but so what, it still wasn't a good movie). Those two films were produced by Lionsgate, outside of the creative home of Marvel Studios but in 2010 the rights reverted back to Marvel and now the studio is free to reboot the property with a new movie.
And we've got some ideas on how to make sure the new 'Punisher' movie amazing and everything the character deserves.
This may seem like a no-brainer considering it is 'The Punisher' after all but remember that Marvel movies are now distributed through Disney, which doesn't have a habit of releasing super-violent, R-rated films. But 'The Avengers' brought in over a billion dollars for Disney, which should give Marvel some clout.
The two previous 'Punisher' movies were rated-R but still weren't very good - we wouldn't out much hope for a PG-13 version of Frank Castle.
Listen: we love Thomas Jane. We love him for his dedication and devotion to the 'Punisher' character, including his recent homemade 'Punisher' short film "Dirty Laundry" (which you can watch on YouTube here). But if the 'Punisher' franchise really wants to start fresh, they're going to have to start from the beginning and that means a new actor. We're not sure who that person could or should be (Channing Tatum?) but despite Jane's passion, this is the time to return to square one. It also allows you to lock a younger actor into a longer contract (this is why you're never going to see Jon Hamm as Superman). And besides, the character should be young for this storyline....
2003's 'Born' - a four-episode mini-series - is not just one of the best Punisher storylines, it's one of the best that Marvel has ever produced. As the title suggests, it's a prequel of sorts, following Frank Castle as a young man fighting in the Vietnam War. When he's told his military base is about to be shut down due to increasing opposition from the Viet Cong, Castle makes a deal with a sadistic voice in his head - it will give him all the strength, stamina and vigilance to survive the war...at a price. And so The Punisher was born.
We won't give away the ending but it's a great nod to future storylines and would serve as something of a 'Batman Begins' for the 'Punisher' franchise.
Speaking of the 'Born' storyline, writer Garth Ennis is synonymous with the Punisher universe. The Irish writer worked for nine-years on Punisher, creating some of the character's most memorable arcs, including reviving the character from a mid-90s period that reimagined the character as a supernatural agent of angels (seriously). Both films cited Ennis' work as a major influence but why not have him write the script. As Joss Whedon proved, it helps to have someone with a strong knowledge of your characters working on your script.
Every writer needs a good director and we heartily endorse Gareth Evans, the Welsh director behind 'The Raid,' one of the best action movies in years. He's the "Christopher Nolan" who can take 'The Punisher' and create a smart, intense and brutal trilogy.
In 2011, ABC Studios and Fox gave a put pilot commitment to 'The Punisher' - a TV series from the creator of CBS' 'Criminal Minds.' The idea was that Frank Castle was a cop by day and a vigilante by night, which sounds like a horrible idea (or at least a horrible rip off of 'The Equalizer'). The pilot wasn't picked up but that doesn't mean that Marvel still isn't cooking up a new version (the Guillermo del Toro produced 'Hulk' TV series is still in the works, despite Marvel maintaining they're interested in another 'Hulk' film).
An amazing 'Punisher' has had many stumbling blocks but none may be bigger than a Fox TV series, especially when where Frank Castle is a cop. It seems horribly misguided and will only drive hardcore fans further away from the franchise and continue to confuse casual fans. Can the plans for a TV show and focus 100% on the movie.