Thomas Jane Talks Perfect Punisher Movie

Published 6 years ago by , Updated October 8th, 2009 at 7:25 pm,

punisher header Thomas Jane Talks Perfect Punisher Movie

Thomas Jane (Hung) doesn’t think that The Punisher has gotten his due on the big screen. After portraying Frank Castle in the 2004 big screen adaptation of the Marvel character, Jane (something of a fan favorite) dropped out amidst much controversy of the 2008 (reboot? Sequel? Flop?), Punisher: War Zone.

While talking exclusively to MTV recently about his new movie, Dark Country, Thomas Jane addressed the subject of both Punisher films, what makes the character great, and what kind of film it would take for him to reprise the role of a character he seems to very much know and love almost as much.

Here are some exerts from what Jane had to say about The Punisher:

“My interest has always been based more in reality than in superhero fiction…The strengths of ‘The Punisher’ that I did lie in the reality that we were able to bring to the character, and the weaknesses of ‘The Punisher’ I did were all based on people trying to make this a ‘comic book movie’—with funny characters and goofball s–t that has no place in a ‘Punisher’ film.

‘Punisher 2′ went more in the direction of goofball comic-book world than in reality..that’s why I dropped out of ‘Punisher 2′—because I’m not going to make a ‘comic book movie.’ It’s just doing a disservice to Frank Castle.

Everyone gets it backwards…You don’t want to strengthen the idea that it’s a comic book in film, because film gives you the chance to actually bring it one step closer to reality—and that’s the direction that ‘Punisher’ wants to go in.

['The Dark Knight'] made $500 billion at the box office, so I felt vindicated…[that film] validates the idea that a Frank Castle movie needs to be a gritty, reality-based film.”

Now I’ve cut these quotes WAY down, and Jane has some pretty interesting things to say if you read the full transcript. Head over to MTV News for the exclusive look.

punisher thomas jane Thomas Jane Talks Perfect Punisher Movie

Jane as The Punisher

This whole “Punisher curse” really is a head-scratcher. The character is one you would think would be easy to bring to the big screen: hell, how many movies (The Brave One), TV shows (24) or video games (Max Payne) made since 1974 – when the Punisher was created – can YOU name that emulate (or at least make you think of) the character? Yet, somehow The Punisher has been unable to find a $olid foothold in any one of those forms of media I just mentioned. So why can’t the originator succeed where so many imitators do?

I don’t really have an answer for that, I’m actually asking you guys to think it over and tell me. We’ll discuss in the comments.

For now it doesn’t look like The Punisher is going to be back up on the big screen anytime soon – but if and when it does return, does it need to go in the kind of direction Thomas Jane describes? And is Jane the man for the role?

Source: MTV

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. @James/Hazmat:
    “the Punisher started out as a villain”

    Not exactly. He actually was manipulated into attacking Spider-Man (by The Jackal).where Castle thought Spider-Man was the villain.


    I also have the Mark Goldblatt directed ’89 Punisher w/ Dolph Lundgren on DVD. The odd thing is that the video/VD rights for the film went to Artisan; Artisan got bought out by Lionsgate. Lionsgate made the two other Punisher movies. Maybe one of these days it’ll all be reissued as a box set. (89, 04-extended cut, 08) just to crank out one more dollar.

    Anyway, the 89 version had some a fairly decent take on The Punisher; and Jeroren Krabbe made a decent bad guy (although not as twisted of a villain as a few years prior in ‘No Mercy’ for sure) …but despite that film having a plot, a well shot bus chase, and Dolph Lundgren looking a bit burned out…some of the other actors were wooden or annoying and that kid’s horrid tweed red wardrobe isn’t helping either.

    Then, of course, the in-house fighting between the producer Robert Kamen and that films writer Boaz Yakin. That entire deal was over the iconic skull. The producer won, writer got fired, and Punisher had no skull save for his dagger collection.

    It’s a nice little B action pic; it’s just considered to be “less of a Punisher”.

    The Tom Jane Punisher -the best of the three- had a problem at the time of release. It wasn’t that LGF bumped it from August 03 to April 04. It was because…in the same month we had Kill Bill Bill Vol.2 and the remake Man On Fire. Two other, bigger profile revenge pictures.

    Other than that, as good as I thought it was, the story structure was off by the third act and was thus unsatisfactory to me. On top of that, like most revenge pictures, nothing is really at stake. It’s not like Castle was stopping a major crime taking place, or avoiding his former FBI friends or anything like that. It just is what it is.

    Everyone here knows how I felt about Punisher Warzone. It baffles me still that “the fans” drool over the picture, saying , “Now THAT’S The Punisher!” yet the film tanked hard. That tells me something. It says to me that the character, if adapted literally to a live action context, simply does not work. In fact, despite the good things of 89 and 04 Punishers, they didn’t knock it out too far out of the park either.

    But, anyway..
    Now to address the post in general.

    While I would not mind Jane returning to the role, *if* such a picture were to happen, there’s a slight problem here. This would negate the events in Warzone. Yes, I know what I just said. I said Warzone was a piece of dung. But that’s not the point I’m making here. What I am saying is that *if* a Tom Jane version were to return, it would be an open admission that Warzone was a mistake on Lionsgate and/or Marvel’s part.

    Would I like to see another ‘Punisher’? I would not mind, so long as Punisher goes up against someone like Saracen (a terrorist) or faces off against Foolkiller (an insane vigilante not unlike The Punisher, but more extreme)…but I’m not holding my breath. Asking to get the character “right” the fourth time around is a bit odd. What can they say this next time around (?) that hasn’t been said in the previous three?

    *If* there is another Punisher, I hate to say it, but it won’t be with Jane. Maybe not even Stevenson. It also would go direct to video. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love Punisher to be in some epic showdown. So would some of you. But if Jane wants realism, we also need to adhere to the writing on the wall.

    It’s over.

  2. Ok. I hear mixed rumors about Punisher: Warzone, is it intended as sequel partly, or just another reboot? Ray Stevenson was good as the Punisher but i liked how Thomas Jane brought more human emotions to the character. Punisher has no powers and even he’s vulnerable even though that fight scene w/ the Russian was little too much fakelike. Anyways Id have to say i liked the 2004 version little more and hope Thomas Jane returns if another film is being planned in the future.

  3. Thanks Darren

  4. The Freak’n Cartoon Villan in the second one ruined it! A more ‘lifelike’ baddie would have made the movie…

  5. JOHNS right, Law abiding citizen looks EXACLTY like punisher 3 lol

  6. Hey Johnny4 Have you noticed the Bolan novels which first came out in 1969 weren’t optioned for movies but in 1974 “Death Wish ” came to the screen which is also the same year “The Punisher” comic premiered?

    Did you ever meet Pendleton and whose SciFi books do you like?

    If Hollywood [Lionsgate] ever finds a successful formula for this type of movie, maybe they’ll dig themselves out of that financial hole and let go while their ahead. :)

    Really though, even the Bronson films didn’t shine very well. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to see where they messed up. Lets see, a director that’s incompetent, a lousy score, a bad supporting cast, and I won’t bother going into detail about the story. I guess on the sunny side four out of the five probably made money trading on Bronson’s situation and star power.

    What did you think of Michael Wandmacher’s score and Steve Gainer’s photography in “WZ?”

  7. @chrisj

    Me personally I thought Ray Stevenson made a great punisher and hope that if they do another Punisher movie (unlikely, not soon at least) that they “reboot” it but keep Stevenson. I think if they mix the production and polish of Jane’s Punisher, Warzone’s Ray Stevenson, and a really compelling (and serious, not some cartoony crap like Warzone) revenge story, they can really get the audience to root for Frank Castle like we rooted for Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, just give him good motivation and that stead-fast “I will do anything necessary” resolve and it could be a great movie.

    I would like for the movie to show more real tactics and planning from Castle, but not some stupid montage scheme that takes up 30 minutes of the movie like in Thomas Jane’s Punisher. Just show that he comes up with cunning ways to kill large numbers of bad guys by showing it happening, not showing the actual planning.

    Like in the mansion scene from Warzone, someone had said that the original screenplay was inspired by one of the comics and it had Frank Castle sneak into the mansion stealthily, then in front of everyone, just killed the mob boss, and while everyone was still stunned from what happened, Punisher made his way out the front door. It took a few moments for the rest of the mob to compose themselves after watching their boss suddenly get offed like that, they chase Punisher out the door, only to find that Punisher had set up a kind of machine-gun nest ouside in the treeline and he just starts mowing them all down as they came running out the front door.

    None of that stupid ass hanging down upside-down BS… That would have been a great scene that shows he’s more than just run in there and kill everyone, that he actually recognizes his mortality and comes up with ways to even the playing field when he’s up against a much larger force.

    Warzone did give me one great laugh out loud moment, when he shoots that guy in the head with the shotgun while the cop was going to handcuff him, lol, I loved the shock and the expression from the cop, he stuttered for a second and was like “Goddammit Castle!” :-D Yah, that was the best part of the movie unfortunately, lol.

  8. @the old man
    Yeah, i had noticed that. Though there have always been vigilante types in film and fiction my personal opinion is that Don Pendelton’s series kicked it up a bit.
    Death wish, which is based off of the 1972 novel by Brian Garfield, is certainly influenced by Bolan, and it really could have been a better movie. I have read somewhere that Burt Reynolds held the film rights for Mack Bolan, at one time. Thank goodness he never tried to make himself into Bolan. Gah, I would have wept over that one, almost certainly.

    I never did get the privilege of meeting Pendelton, but I did like many of his books, including the short lived Copp series. As far as favorites of anything, I rarely choose favorites, too damn hard for me to do. S. King and D. Koontz are by far my favorite authors. As far as scifi goes I have enjoyed many of the older authors. Authors like Heinlien and Asimov among many others. I love L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth series and Battlefield Earth is also a terrific novel, read it many times. If you haven’t read Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, you might check those out, great books both of them.

    As far as the score or photography of WZ, the movie failed to leave a lasting impression on me. Very few of those “Oh hell yeah that was freakin awesome!” kind of moments, which a I think a movie like that would be full of. Those moments in a movie are often what cement things like the score or cinematography or photography in my memory.

  9. @ jwalka

    Many thanks man, The director was heavily influence by the Punisher and in particular Tim Bradstreet & his work, who btw actually saw the trailer & was seriously impressed.

  10. Omg Dolph Lundgren was my favorite Punisher. just kidding.

    But for real i think that another movie wont happen for a long, long time. Face the facts, neither movie helped the character move into the stratosphere. Actually the only reason I saw the second one was John Travolta was the bad guy, and saw WarZone was because it looked like it delivered the violence I expected from Frank.

    Now if Marvel gets smart and wants to quickly revitalize this name brand, I’d think putting him in another Marvel character movie, and show him being bad ass but for a quick scene like in Spiderman, with him on the rooftop shooting criminals with his trusty rifle and scope. I guess that wouldnt mean Spidey would get a PG rating this time around.

    Or, give him his own tv series. “The Wire” with a vengeance.

    Either way, both jane and stevenson are counted out.

  11. Well, Marvel isn’t against killing, Iron Man killed tons of people in that movie, but they just can’t show the gore. So they can still have a Punisher movie with him killing people, but it’ll just be a bit weird like Wolverine with no blood, lol. But that doesn’t matter too much, as long as we know they’re dead it’s all good…

    But yah, with two bombs in the last few years, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone would decide to make another Punisher movie. Too bad because it’s one of the few comic book characters I’m actually interested in. I’ve never been too into all of the super heros with crazy powers, I’ve always liked the more human ones, like Batman, Iron Man, and Punisher…

  12. I personally don’t know how anyone could’ve enjoyed the Thomas Jane Punisher.Jane didn’t look the part in any fashion,the story was weak,and the villains were unimaginative.

    War Zone was like an R-rated cartoon and I loved it for that.The violence was pretty over the top,just how I like it,and Ray Stevenson fit the character like a glove.I personally liked Jigsaw and LBJ.I thought that the feel of the movie was straight out of the comics and didn’t try to be more than it was supposed to.

    I’ve never really liked The Punisher and thought that the comic character was always kinda lame,but War Zone was just a riot to watch.I pretty much laughed all the way through it.I love cartoonish violence.

    Whoever said that Jane needs to STFU,I’m right there with you.I’m glad that he didn’t do War Zone,because he’s not a good Punisher anyway.As a character,The Punisher is nowhere on par with Batman,so trying to make it a “realistic” vision of the character just doesn’t work for me.

  13. I have an idea,Put Stevenson’s Punisher into Jane’s Punisher movie! there,problem solved.

  14. I think most people here are disregarding Jane’s statements. He didn’t want to make a comic book movie, he wanted to take a comic book character, and make him true-to-life. For all of you that think the story was weak, I wonder if you have ever watched the deleted scenes. Namely, the one where he convinces his ex-friend to put a bullet in his own head. That was some serious Frank Castle finesse if you ask me. Everything about War Zone was bad. Stevenson is the most robotic, unconvincing actor I’ve ever seen. They hired a Limey to play an Italian, and he did a New York accent that should insult every American. The action scenes were so over the top that they were stupid and cornballish. And is everyone forgetting that NEWMAN from Seinfeld was in it?

    Thomas Jane, while he may not have the Frank Castle commando look down, played a realistic character in a realistic setting. The scenario was creative and with the exception of John Travolta (biggest hack overactor in Hollywood), the cast was stunning. Tom Jane, Roy Scheider, Rebecca Romijn, Laura Harring, Will Patton…

    Compared to War Zone, Punisher ’04 was a damn masterpiece.

  15. whether Punisher WZ didnt live up to the expectation of Jane and many punisher fans, jane could have been the only one who could portray this vigilante character. I didnt even waste my time watching punisher WZ when jane backed out. Honestly, i think the fans deserve a well put together punisher sequel, stop these ridiculous reboots. If we all know who have a certain talent who feels strong and right for the part, then why look for another guy. If i were directing i would do everything to keep Jane as punisher. Jane has found his role, we will always remember he was punisher so let him play the part. And at the same time theres alitte sense of morality on it.

  16. @marco

    since when did anyone agree that Jane looks right for the part? I think that’s part of the reason why fans of the comics generally didn’t like the Jane Punisher. I’m one of them, he doesn’t at all look like The Punisher… Ray Stevenson looked excellent as The Punisher, the movie was just mediocre…

  17. I agree with Thomas Jane,
    Punisher WarZone was just too goofy, Lexi Alexander was the worse choice ever to direct it. Ray Stevenson looks like the Punisher but the whole time I watched it I couldnt take him serious he is like a Steven Segal clone but i thnk Segal is the better actor of the two.
    Thomas jane is atleast very capable of delivering lines which you need in order to build a story especially when the supporting actors are sooo terrible.
    If anything they should reboot the series yet again. Either get Thomas Jane back or get a guy like Gerard Butler or even get Eli Roth anyone see him as the bearjew in Inglorious Basterds, and make an origins movie kind of like Batman Begins make 75% of the movie back story. Give background story on him growing up and going into the armed forces, and coming up through the police force and every thing that led to him family being murdered. Make people want to know more about Frank Castle dont make the first movie about the Punisher make it about Frank.
    They could make a movie about Frank Castle that never even has him as the Punisher they could almost make a Ramboish movie about Frank Castle and end it with a huge dramatic scene with his family being murdered make people want more.
    The last movie cost 35 mil o make andit looked like a straigt to dvd movie. The 4th rambo cost 50 and half of that was to pay Stallone get a guy tht can act that could be the next big thing give the movie a 40 mil budget and do it right. 40 mil with decent actors and captivating story is not hard to earn back the Jane punisher made 60 mil worldwide and to date almost 100 mil on dvd and that had a 30 mil budget

  18. Hmmmm, maybe the Stevenson ‘robot-ness’ stemmed from the whole “I just need to kill these people and then my task is complete and I can finally die and be re-united with my family” emotional void in which Castle existed in that movie. Would you be cracking one-liners if all you want is revenge then death?

  19. dellpeters, no offense but if you want Eli Roth instead of Ray Stevenson in ANY movie, you’re crazy lol

  20. Yeah cause Stevenson would have killed in the role of the stoner guy from Cabin Fever.

  21. Not sure what you’re getting at

    First off, the “stoner guy” is not exactly the most prestigious role. Just because Roth was “believable” doesn’t really show me much as far as acting goes.

    Second, no one has “killed” the stoner role since Sean Penn in Fast Times.

    I’d say that Stevenson can play a better stoner than Roth can play…anything…especially anything that Stevenson has done

    Not being a fan boy but Roth’s “acting” is horrible

  22. I don’t know what all of this hate is for Stevenson. The director is obviously the one that sucks here. Because the whole movie was horrible, even seasoned actors were not good because the material they were given was cheesy and the direction was probably pretty absent. I’ve watched Stevenson in Rome for 22 episodes, he can definitely act and he looks perfect for the role of Punisher, it’s too bad it was all wasted on this movie…

  23. +1 Ken J

    Although I loved Green Street Hooligans, Lexi was the weird and ultimately not the best choice for the Punisher movies. However the movie did have a few shining moments. The action and violence was definitely better overall in PW.

  24. I HATED PW cause only 2 American actors were in it.2.
    The rest did the worst New York accents I’ve ever heard in my entire life.Worse than Steven Seagal’s southern accent in Attack Force.I thought that was bad until I saw Punisher War Zone.

    The acting was bad,the plot bad and was that boring I turned it off.

    Bring Thom Jane back.I loved The Punisher Jane did and those who didn’t go get a tissue or handkerchief and cry into those for goodness sake.
    Do u think Stevenson cares if u kiss his butt??
    At least Thom interacts with his fans.

    Thomas Jane is and always will be the best Punisher.Period.

  25. I loved The Punisher Stevenson did and those who didn’t go get a tissue or handkerchief and cry into those for goodness sake.

    Damn, it’s scary how well you can interchange the names…

    Anyway, I agree that Warzone was a pretty crappy movie, but as for the character itself, TOM Jane’s Punisher doesn’t even come close to Ray Stevenson’s Punisher in my opinion. If you don’t like that, go cry into your tissue. ;-) lol just kidding.

    Tom is short for Thomas. Thom is just weird…

    Tom Jane would make a killer Captain America though… :-)

  26. Thank you for bringing up the history.

    “The character is one you would think would be easy to bring to the big screen: hell, how many movies (The Brave One), TV shows (24) or video games (Max Payne) made since 1974….”

    Ah, but keep in mind that the last ten to thirteen years have not treated R-rated adventure films kindly in the US at least. Stallone has had few of his R-rated films in American theaters in the last ten years, as have Seagal and Van Damme.

  27. I agree with Jane also.. and yes his punisher was goofy as well. But it was the first one… im sure its not something he was keen on. ANd if he had his way im sure the next one would be dark serious and all that jazz. Hes not gonna tellt he studio what to do on his first movie. The guy still isnt even no pull. Now he would be in that position. How good are most origin stories anyway?

  28. I agree with Jane also.. and yes his punisher was goofy as well. But it was the first one… im sure its not something he was keen on. ANd if he had his way im sure the next one would be dark serious and all that jazz. Hes not gonna tellt he studio what to do on his first movie. The guy still isnt even no pull. Now he would be in that position. How good are most origin stories anyway?

  29. Forget what “people” wanna see. They have no idea. HOw many of those “people” even read comix anyway? How many could actually imagine a good stroy if they tried? The beauty of the punisher is that hes not a “superhero” hes a vigilante, an anit hero in a heros world. Thats what i love about the Marvel U. There can be these “heros” who save the day and there is still room for the real thing where jus because uve saved the day doesnt mean its all ok. Frank Caslte is human. A guy whos been pushed way over the edge…and now hes pushing back…HARD. WarZone was terrible. One of the worst if not the worst Marvel Movie yet. 1988 Punisher was better. I wish all actors in Marvel movies had the dedication and insite Thomas Jane has. He was right to quit…i mean look at the result. I wouldnt want to have been in WarZone. What an embarresment. Thats not to say Ray Stevenson was bad..jus everything else was. I do like Jane better and i think he deserves it. I hope he can find a way to make it work, and that its a movie that lives up to the name. Its supposed to be Real, Dark. Gritty. Mean. Emotional.
    Tense…Bloody. Like the Dark Knight meets Rambo meets James BOnd meets Resevoir Dogs. Tarrantino or Rodriguz should be doing this.. i mean.. its a Punisher Movie Dammit!!!!