The Punisher was one of multiple guest-starring characters making a supporting appearance in the second season of Daredevil, but Jon Bernthal’s edgy take on the Marvel Comics vigilante quickly became the most talked about feature of the season. But while it was no surprise that Netflix quickly ordered a solo series for the character, many took note that The Punisher was already one of the most frequently-adapted characters in the entire Marvel canon.
There were, in fact, multiple previous attempts to kick-off a Punisher eature film franchise before Bernthal took on the role as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, the star has revealed which earlier imagining of the character was most inspirational to his own version.
While Bernthal’s interpretation of Frank Castle has easily been the most widely-praised by a plurality of critics, audiences and fans, it was only the most recent adaptation of the character. Dolph Lungdren previously played The Punisher in 1989, while Thomas Jane tried a more realistic version in 2004. Ray Stevenson then took over the role for the ultra-violent Punisher: War Zone, which divided critics but also won praise for sticking closer to the original comics than any previous attempt.
None of those films received sequels, but Jane never gave up on trying to launch one anyway. In 2012, he self-produced and financed a short film titled Dirty Laundry with the hope of potentially reviving interest in his version of the franchise. Supported by Power/Rangers producer Adi Shankar, it serves as an unofficial sequel to the 2004 film despite not featuring any of the character’s official trademarks.
Speaking at the 2016 New York Comic-Con, Bernthal cited Dirty Laundry in particular as an inspiration for his own version of The Punisher:
“I watch everything. I read everything. Anything you can get your hands on. I love “Dirty Laundry.” You see that one? Once you devour and eat up and much as you can, my way is to make it as personal as possible. It was a great pleasure to watch all of those.”
The new Punisher series is currently in production, with such actors as Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll confirmed to be part of its cast. The Marvel Netflix series have been praised for the maturity and deeper subject matter they often bring to the genre, but they’ve also shied away from the kind of stylistic flourishes or source-material adherence that’s characterized the studio’s cinematic output. This makes how The Punisher will actually turn out to be something of a mystery for the time being.
Daredevil season 1 & 2, Jessica Jones season 1, and Luke Cage season 1 are now available on Netflix. Iron Fist season 1 arrives on March 17th, 2017. The Defenders and The Punisher arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2 and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.
Source: Jon Bernthal [via Screen Geek]