Jon Bernthal wasn’t Hollywood’s first pick as The Punisher, once upon a time Thomas Jane to the nod. He wasn’t bad as Frank Castle, it was the film around him that had its issues. The 2004 film The Punisher was made a bit too early. When Marvel came to town, the superhero film industry went through a massive transformation for the better. Some have wondered why there wasn’t another Punisher film made shortly after its release.
According to Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter he had a shot at penning the second film in the franchise, but his version didn’t sit well with Marvel executives. This is unfortunate, because Sutter’s writing style would have been the gritty dark Punisher we all wanted to see. Sadly, his version never happened. In an interview with Looper, Sutter talks about his version of Marvel’s vigilante:
“I’m a Marvel fan, but I was not a comic book kid. I didn’t really get into that whole world until about 15 years ago, which is when I started getting into graphic novels. And that happened in Paris, because their graphic novel industry is decades beyond ours!
But I didn’t realize that you can’t take liberties with some of the characters and some of the traits, because they are what they are. They’re very derivative, they’re stereotyped, but this is the guy that does this, and this is the guy who does this… So they’re two-dimensional for a reason: that’s the purpose they serve.
So I was trying to expand the Marvel Universe in a direction it should not have been expanded in. I think I was trying to write to the emotionality of this dude and motivate the absurd violence with some kind of meaning. I don’t mean that I was, like, f-ing Gandhi [Laughs]. But I was just trying to root it a little bit more in the mental anguish that he went through to justify it, and to take a little bit of that journey.
So I think that’s what I was trying to do: humanize him a little bit more. But it’s the kind of thing where there’s only X amount of time [in] the movies, so you have moments of that, but you can’t really have a subplot that explores that kind of thing. Not in a summer blockbuster or Marvel picture.”
A sequel did happen, but it did not involve Thomas Jane. Titled Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson didn’t do well at the box office. Sutter’s version would have a brought a deeper characterization to the live-action version of Frank Castle. It would have made him more multidimensional. This is something that Marvel has finally come around to. We can only hope that Jon Bernthal will change this trend when the current incarnation of the character debuts on Netflix.
The Punisher hits Netflix sometime in 2017.
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