Poor Frank Castle. Hollywood hasn't had much luck when it comes to translating Marvel's iconic antihero The Punisher to the big screen. The 1989 version that starred Dolph Lundgren borrowed the name and not much else. The 2004 adaptation featuring Thomas Jane also made a few bizarre deviations from the source material - including the story's setting and characterization of Castle.
The 2008 film Punisher: War Zone came the closest to nailing the spirit of the comics (particularly the popular PunisherMAX series), but even that film wound up falling short of expectations. On the surface, it might appear that The Punisher is a property that just doesn't work as a feature film - but fans know the real issue is that there has yet to be an accurate depiction of the mythology.
Despite its faults, one aspect that many would agree War Zone got right was the casting of Ray Stevenson in the lead role. I know Jane still has his supporters, but I felt that Stevenson delivered a far more imposing and tragic interpretation of Castle. Although the future of The Punisher franchise is currently unknown, I would like to see Stevenson receive the opportunity to play the part in a more straightforward adaptation.
According to Cinema Blend, there's still a chance that could happen. They recently sat down with Stevenson to discuss his new film Kill the Irishman and he mentioned that he's spoken with Marvel about taking another shot at The Punisher. The studio recently reacquired the rights to the property from Lionsgate and that's definitely a step in the right direction. At least we know that any future incarnations would be developed on their terms.
However, Stevenson admits that the final decision is ultimately out of his hands. He does have a great relationship with Marvel, though - and that's certainly not going to hurt his odds. He plays one of The Warriors Three in Thor and even provided the voice of The Punisher in The Super Hero Squad Show.
Even though I wasn't too fond of Thomas Jane in the role, I thought his take on what would make a perfect Punisher movie was spot-on. Hopefully another film is still in the cards, but there were also rumors a few months ago that Marvel was considering a Punisher TV show. Regardless of which direction they go, Stevenson still has my vote.
My main issue with War Zone was that the villains seemed to exist in an entirely different movie than everyone else. The violence was obviously over-the-top, but Stevenson and most of the supporting cast were suitably grounded. Yet, whenever Jigsaw (Dominic West) showed up, I started having flashbacks to Tommy Lee Jones' hammy performance as Two-Face in Batman Forever.
The Punisher doesn't seem like a particularly difficult code to crack. Hopefully fans will see a sincere telling of Frank Castle's story sooner, rather than later.
Source: Cinema Blend
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