The Punisher is one of the most memorable and beloved Marvel superheroes out there. He has everything we love in a hero and is basically Marvel's Batman; except even more bad*ss (sorry, I don't curse). It is high time we got a good movie about this anti-hero and now that Marvel has the rights back, it's the perfect opportunity to slip him into the ever expanding MCU; especially since he is a pivotal addition to [Captain America: Civil War](movie:994409). Not only would Frank Castle bring something unique and gritty to the world, he would still mesh well with the other characters, specifically the street-level warriors like Daredevil and Luke Cage. Honestly though, I just want his brash, uncompromising moral savagery to go head to head with Cap's stubborn, unbending idealism. That would be a scene for the ages.
This character is difficult to cast. He needs to be someone who is both physically imposing but also someone sympathetic. The audience has to be 100% on his side of the moral scale or the ruthless, brutal murders he commits will paint him as a psycho. But he also has to be terrifying; someone you just see on the streets and don't want to make eye contact with... but is also charming and good-looking enough to amass a following of the average movie-goer, not just us comic book lovers. He has to bring a level of age and sophistication to the role -- remember, he was a Vietnam War Vet-- but also be on the same wavelength as the other heroes, namely Cap. I considered a lot of names for this list but eventually came down to my top five. Here they are.
Please welcome our first contestant:
5) Joe Manganiello
This man is an obvious choice. He's a whopping 6'5", physically impressive, intimidating man. He's got the look down and he deserves a superhero role by now. Not only did people want him for Superman but also Batman. Manganiello has been up for every major superhero casting and has never made it. He would be a great looking Punisher but there are some down sides. His voice, though deep, isn't exactly "The Punisher." He's often a comedic role as well, which could make it hard for people to envision him as the killer. But he's scary, has a lot of roles under his belt, and is energetic enough to carry a film or TV series.
4) Jon Bernthal
Now, Mr. Bernthal is an interesting choice. He's 5'10" which puts him barely taller than Mark Ruffalo. Even though he's been in many notable things--including The Walking Dead, The Wolf of Wall Street, and recently Fury-- he's relatively unknown. He always seems to play rude, even dislikeable characters which would translate into The Punisher. Despite all these set backs though, I think he's a great choice. He plays angry, self-dignified characters very well. He has the look of a soldier. He even has the grizzled, beaten face of a man who has lost everything. Bernthal brings fire and passion to his roles and works well with an ensemble of actors, which would come in handy in a big franchise like [The Avengers](movie:9040).
3) Eric Bana
Not only is Bana one of my favorite actors but he also has experience playing superheroes... though some would say Ang Lee's Hulk is more of a negative than a positive for Bana. I think he is perfect for the role though. He is the right size, the right build, has the aged-warrior look, and is truly frightening if given the means to be so. He would bring the right amount of experience and age to the role but still have the energy and charisma needed to carry a film. Another reason Bana would be perfect: he needs another blockbuster role to jump start his career again. He would be very good for the role but some criticizers would say that he's too old for a franchise. At 46 he's running low on years for a multi-picture deal. But that's a tiny problem.
2) Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm, the Mad Man himself, looks precisely how I would have envisioned [The Punisher](movie:1007544) in real life. He has the rectangular face, the long nose, the dark eyebrows, and the hair. He's got the height and definitely the acting prowess to master a character as multifaceted as Frank Castle. Hamm is the right age and experienced enough to bring the character to life however, he doesn't quite have the physicality. All of his characters seem to be more intellectual than physical, especially in his fantastic role on [Mad Men](series:200778). He would have to work hard to convince audiences that he was an ex-marine, a trained killer, and a vigilante out for vengeance. But as an actor of his caliber, I think he could pull it off; just a lot of days in the gym.
Before I get to my number one pick, I have a few honorable mentions:
Jensen Ackles: Too young for the role, he needs to be more seasoned. But Ackles definitely should play a superhero soon... maybe, Nova? Green Lantern?
Karl Urban: I love the guy, he's a great actor and a fantastic superhero. Sadly, I don't think Judge Dredd and Punisher could be the same person.
Frank Grillo/ Josh Brolin: sadly... taken.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: This man would be a great Punisher if he could lose the British accent, just didn't make my list.
My number one pick is. . .
1) Thomas Jane
Was this that much of a surprise? Really? Now before you all jump down my throats for choosing him, let me present my case. Thomas Jane is The Punisher to me. Although I watched that movie when I was young and thought it was awesome, I have recently been disenfranchised and realized how truly bad that movie was. Despite the movie being critically embarrassing, Jane was a great version of Frank Castle. In the short film Dirty Laundry, we finally got to see him be the man he should have been and fans loved it. I, personally, want to see more. Much more. One of the biggest cons to his recasting is the fact that he was connected to The Punisher film which is not in the cinematic universe and therefore it'll be confusing for viewers. Also, he is only 5'11" which puts him in the shorter half of the universe. But he is a great actor and needs the publicity to revamp his career. He plays the murderous and the compassionate very well. I would love to see him in a better written, better directed, and better funded film backed by Disney and connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the end, I really just want to see a Punisher film. He's a great character and would be a necessary and wonderful addition to the world. He would contrast Peter Quill's and Tony Stark's light-heartedness with a darker, more grounded feel that is lacking in the MCU. Frank Castle could easily fit into a Captain America film, a Netflix original series (or a cameo on one), and even a film franchise of his own. I love the character. I love these actors. And we all want to see more of both.