Remember the 2004 version of The Punisher that starred Thomas Jane and an over the top John Travolta? The film was critically panned, and easily forgotten by fans but that didn’t stop the studio from making a sequel. Last year, we got Punisher: War Zone, a grittier take on the established character that featured more violence and a new actor, Ray Stevenson. Once and for all Jane himself has opened up to MTV and discussed his view on the character and what he thinks went wrong with the franchise.
“My interest has always been based more in reality than in superhero fiction, and with the original Punisher I very much pushed them to try to make a movie that was more like Death Wish or Taxi Driver than Spider-Man. 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.”
He went on to somewhat criticize the second film, which he opted out of during pre-production.
“Punisher 2 went more in the direction of goofball comic-book world than in reality. The portraits of Punisher that Tim Bradstreet did, that’s the movie I want to see. [Those portraits] have a reality, grit and truth to them, and I think every Punisher fan out there agrees with me. That’s what I was pushing for and 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.”
“[The Dark Knight] made $500 billion at the box office, so I felt vindicated—because everybody in the business who was familiar with what I was trying to do with Punisher 2 recognized that as the tone I was going for in Punisher 2,”
I knew The Dark Knight was going to pop up somewhere in this interview. Ever since that film was released, all other comic book adaptations have been getting the short end of the stick. It’s not necessarily a horrible thing, because that means people will have to try harder when it comes to producing these films. Like Jane said, audiences know that this caliber of story can be done for a comic based film. My two major problems with the first Punisher film had to do with the length and the writing. The movie went on for ages and seemed too drawn out. It was boring, and when the action scenes hit the screen they were underwhelming.
What do you think of Jane’s views on the perfect Punisher?