It has been brought up occasionally on the podcasts, but my all-time favorite comic book character is The Punisher. Hands down.
Growing up, I never was really able to fully wrap my head around heroes with super powers, or anything else of the sort. I was I guess what you’d call a realist, and preferred a normal guy who would just go out and fight crime like Charlie Bronson or Clint Eastwood might: with a crapload of guns and a mad attitude.
So it came across my radar this week that the ultimate fan film had just been released, and call me impressed. I call it the ‘ultimate fan film’ because though we have seen scores of fan films over the years, celebrating everything from Batman and Spiderman to Star Trek and Star Wars; but to my knowledge, I have never seen one made by a Hollywood actor who has already played the role, just to reignite interest in the franchise; or more importantly, to give the hardcore fans like myself a little fix of what we’ve been longing for.
Last month, Thomas Jane released a Punisher Fan film he did himself, without a sign-off from Marvel over the project. Jane played the role of Frank Castle in the 2004 film The Punisher, which was borderline ok-to not very good; but none of this could be attributed to Jane whatsoever. He was great.
Jane became fascinated with the character and signed on to do a sequel, but after years of company flip-flops and the dragging of feet, a reboot was released in 2008 entitled Punisher War Zone, which starred Ray Stevenson as the title character Frank Castle. This installment was again quite disappointing to the diehard fans (though was a step in the right direction), and I still longed for the studio to get it just right. That film now being the third reboot of the character (let’s not forget the forgetable Dolph Lundgren version from 1989 called The Punisher, co-starring Louis Gossett Jr.), so at this point the fans have been beating their heads against the wall for a proper adaptation.
Jane had stayed close to the character, and released the independently financed short that premiered at Comic-Con, called Dirty Laundry, which co-starred Ron Perlman. The tagline to the film reads: “Question: What’s the difference between justice and punishment?”
Here’s what Mr. Jane had to say about the film, which was released along with it:
I wanted to make a fan film for a character I’ve always loved and believed in – a love letter to Frank Castle & his fans. It was an incredible experience with everyone on the project throwing in their time just for the fun of it. It’s been a blast to be a part of from start to finish — we hope the friends of Frank enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.”
Hopefully this will ignite a flame under Marvel’s bum to do a PROPER reboot of the series, since the rights have reverted back to them from Disney. Enough with all the BS they’ve given us.
You would think a Punisher reboot for Marvel would: 1. be a no brainer since it would be a straightforward action movie; and 2. be the cheapest to produce out of their canon, since no real superhero SFXs are needed.
Well we can only hope. Now that we are in King Kong reboot franchise territory, hopefully something good and monumental will be developed for the character.
In the meantime, have a look at the brilliant new short to get your Frank Castle fix. It isn’t knock-your-socks-off amazing; but again it’s paving the road in the right direction.