BySean Erickson, writer at
Exploring the area between movie geek and film nerd.
Sean Erickson

Punisher War Zone is one of the craziest movies to ever carry the Marvel banner. The 2008 movie starred Ray Stevenson in the role of Punisher Frank Castle and pitted him against Jigsaw in one of the most gloriously violent movies to see release from a major studio. In a word, the movie is Bonkers. Like the 2012 movie Dredd, it has become something of a cult favorite, but Punisher has been licking his wounds ever since.

The Punisher War Zone Fiasco

The fact that it didn't do too well in the box office has been held as a sign that R rated comic book movies are too risky a business decision (and the fact that director Lexi Alexander bumped heads with the studio Lionsgate before and after getting Punisher War Zone to the screen is also frequently brought up when news of a female director getting attached to a superhero movie is made). It's been a touchy subject but it looks like 2015 may be the year when Hollywood is ready to try again to bring adult themed comic book stories back into the mainstream.

The dark heroes of Marvel Comics.
The dark heroes of Marvel Comics.

From the sound of Ryan Reynold's Twitter feed, it was't exactly easy to convince Fox to make an R rated Deadpool movie - but the sounds of fans rejoicing over the world could be heard with the right set of ears when Deadpool took that lighting equipment to Mario Lopez's head and made the rating official. Combined that with Marvel Studio's dark and faithful Daredevil show on Netflix and you have the stage set for the return of Frank Castle and Punisher into the Marvel cinematic universe.

Marvel Gets the Punisher Rights Back

Marvel actually hasn't had the chance to tell their own Punisher story. The character was tied up over at Lionsgate for both the 2004 Thomas Jane & John Travolta affair and Punisher War Zone. But since that 2008 bloodbath, the rights to Punisher (and Man-Thing) reverted back to Marvel Studios and for the first time Marvel won't have to bargain for their vision of the character to make it up on to the big, or small, screen. As Punisher War Zone director Lexi Alexander explained recently:

"Marvel was an equal partner, but unfortunately when there were creative decision conflicts, Marvel would let Lionsgate be the tie breaker. I always regretted that I made a Marvel movie this way, because 99% of their notes were much better than the studios and I was more in tune with them."
Jigsaw in Punisher War Zone.
Jigsaw in Punisher War Zone.

Deadpool & Daredevil Pave the Way

We'll see how well the Deadpool movie eventually does at the box office but the chances are a lot better for this character at this point in time than things were for Punisher in 2004 or 2008. Deadpool has the benefit of also acting as a comedy during all the flying bullets and slicing katana blades. This is of course in addition to all the goodwill both Marvel and Fox, with a great trio of X-Men movies under their belt, have made with fans since 2008.

Ryan Reynold's Deapool
Ryan Reynold's Deapool

With Daredevil Marvel Studios definitely looks to be in the process of creating an off-shoot world for the darker superhero characters that take the fight to the streets of the city rather than the bigger stage of the Avengers characters. And this is exactly the kind of environment that Frank Castle would feel right at home in. While I'm sure many fans would love to see Marvel Studios aim straight for the movie theater with a Punisher reboot, a Netflix series may be the perfect re-introduction for the character.

The Punisher on Netflix

And it looks like that's where Marvel may be headed with The Punisher. Speaking to SciFiNow, Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight spoke about the possibilities of brining The Punisher into Marvel's boundary-free Netflix world...

"I’ve been a huge fan of the Punisher comics for years. I’d love to see him get his due on a platform like this. Nothing would delight me more than to see the Punisher get his own show and maybe we could convince Marvel to go Hard-R rating. If any character deserves an R rating, it’s the Punisher."

While comic books can often go to ultra-violent lengths to tell successful stories - it can be difficult to pull this off in a major motion picture without alienating some of the mainstream audience if you don't have the comedic element that comes with [Deadpool](movie:38663). This was the downfall of Punisher War Zone in its initial release and why it was much more popular on video. Even the movies of Quentin Tarantino come with a certain perverse dark comedy and a huge amount of stylization to make bloodshed go down a little easier. It can be difficult to get the relentlessly dark tone of The Punisher into a successful movie - but this is the kind of thing that many fans would be more comfortable watching at home.

Netflix's Daredevil opens the door for The Punisher
Netflix's Daredevil opens the door for The Punisher

A platform like Netflix could be the perfect solution to getting a successful reboot of The Punisher to audiences and retaining the dark and violent tone in all its glory. The fact is that TV shows have gotten noticeably darker over the years while the PG-13 rating has remained the king of big movies. Show's like HBO's Game of Thrones have proved that you can be heartbreakingly bleak and violent and still come out a huge success. Add to this the flexibility of the Netflix platform and you have everything you need to put together a great Punisher relaunch.

What do you think? Are you eager to see Marvel reboot The Punisher? How would you like to see Frank Castle return? Should he join [Daredevil](movie:47230) on Netflix? Take to the comments section and sound off, dear reader!


Latest from our Creators