The Punisher: A New TV Show Following Netflix's "Marvel's Daredevil"

     I recently read an article about Steven DeKnight wanting to get an R rated Punisher series, and I've wanted that for a long, long time.  In fact, I recalled starting a post about it so I went through my drafts folder and found some of this post saved on 05/31/13. (Note: I've updated and edited this to include recent events and thoughts)
     "I’ve been a huge fan of the Punisher comics for years,” says DeKnight, speaking exclusively to SciFiNow.”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."
     With Marvel launching its entire Daredevil series this Friday (April 10th) on Netflix, hopes are high that the future series' to follow, including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist- all leading up to a combined Defenders series, will do well.  Marvel's already dominating the film market with Avengers raking in just over $623 million- it seems they are trying to branch out onto the smaller screen, and if the trailers are to believed, Daredevil should do pretty damn well.

     In the past we've had Ray Stevenson, Dolph Lundgren, and Thomas Jane play Frank Castle in the the previous Punisher films.  In all honesty, Lundgren's really wasn't that bad, I mean it was far better than David Hasselhoff's Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and is worth a watch.  Stevenson was all right, and I actually think Thomas Jane was very good, the scripts, however, were most definitely NOT.  The problem with these previous films is they are all handled wrong.  Old comics film properties tended to pull punches, just the same as they've been doing to the more recent Wolverine films- a complaint I can't stress enough.  If they want to do either Punisher or Wolverine right, they need a hard R rating, and the right team to make the story worth watching.
     I've written about the continual mishandling of Wolverine, how how to redeem Deadpool's film debut- [ EDIT: Ryan Reynolds is currently filming an R-rated Deadpool! That's one step in the right direction for the rest of the Mature Marvel U ], and also how the Punisher has been flubbed.  I bitch about these things because, as a fan, I want to see the best films of these characters- I don't want censored Disney-fied do gooders.  These people are killers, not hand slappers.  Marvel needs to take risks with the mature audience, many of their devoted, long-time readers aren't children and we want heavier content.
     I've said it plenty of times, Marvel- it's time to take the kiddie gloves off and make films for fans older than 12. Take the risks and make a movie worth watching. Make a movie worth talking about.
     I wrote this a long time ago and still stand by it- "If they want a good following they have to up their game and take risks.  If this movie gets made and does well, it could open up an entire new avenue of film opportunities for Marvel.  An actual horror version of Ghost Rider, a dark noir mob underworld Punisher, and a maybe even a Wolverine film that actually shows him being the best there is at what he does, and that is certainly not brooding over some long forgotten past and crying like his mutant power is being an emo teenager."  Many of us want to see Marvel tackle the dark and gritty stuff that these characters represent.  The Punisher and Wolverine are supposed to be the ultimate bad asses, show them that way.  These films need to grow the f*** up and show us why they are so great.  Look at how well Christopher Nolan handled The Dark Knight.  It is a very plausible thing to believe that Marvel can do it with their own works.
     Starting a new Punisher series could pave the way for this wave of films or shows.  We don't want another hackneyed origin story, we want to see a Scorsese level Punisher, with all the intellectual stimulation of Goodfellas or The Departed.  I want to see a Punisher show that can go toe-to-toe with Ben Affleck's direction of The Town, or even the highly under-appreciated The Black Donnellys.  We want crime, corruption, and violence.  We want dark and gritty and cerebral.  We want a Punisher worth our time.

     I personally would like to see Thomas Jane return to the character, and I've long since thought that Terry Crews would make a wonderful Barracuda.  Maybe have a nice cameo by Dolph Lundgren as Tombstone, and possibly some crossover characters like Kingpin from Daredevil, or Bullseye if he shows up.  Jane has expressed a will to return to a character he knows quite well, and feels has been left unfinished as this excerpt from an MTV Interview he did way back in 2009:
"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,'" Jane told MTV News. "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."
Jane went on to say that he feels the "definitive Punisher film" has yet to be made, but would very much like to return to the character for that very reason. Clearly having given the subject some thought over the years, Jane described the perfect "Punisher" movie as a blend of tones found in the films of dramatic, tough-guy writer/directors like Walter Hill ("The Warriors") and Sam Peckinpah ("The Wild Bunch"), and a far cry from what he described as the "cartoon" version of the character.
"Everyone gets it backwards," he said. "The 'Punisher' comic is striving for a sense of reality. They’re not striving for a sense of 'comic book.' So in the film, you can actually take the reality element further—not the comic book element. You don’t want to strengthen the idea that it’s a comic book in film, because film gives you the chance to actually bring it one step closer to reality—and that's the direction that 'Punisher' wants to go in."
     Jane understands the character, now all we need is a proper writer and director team.  Marvel, it's in your hands, get this done.  I mean the last good Punisher we got was the fan film Dirty Laundry, so it's time to up your game Marvel.

[ EDIT: Apologies, as "Anonymous" notes below in the comments, Marvel studios didn't make the earlier Punisher films, although they now hold the rights which were previously held by Lionsgate.  Deadpool and Wovlerine are from Fox. This information is extra handy as I was working on small articles about both Blade and Ghost Rider, which have both been added to Marvel Studios' rights.  With Marvel Studios recent handling of properties, I don't doubt their ability to do these series' justice in the film or TV realms now. ]

     Sources [ SciFiNow ] [ MTV ] [ IndieWire ]


  1. I just wanted to note that while Wolverine, Deadpool, the previous Punisher movies are all Marvel comics, NONE of them were done by Marvel studios. Wolverine and Deadpool are FOX, and Punisher was lionsgate. Marvel studios now has the rights to Punisher, and after having watched Deadpool, if they decide to do a show, I have no doubt they would do it well. This information works against your article. Until Daredevil, Marvel didn't really have a chance to do mature. You should make note of things like this in the future.

  2. I always forget that- and continually reference them as Marvel, but don't mean the movie studio, it's rather the fact they are comic book movies based on Marvel's library. Since you've noted this though I'll be adding adding edit notes to reflect the Fox/Marvel divide and am looking into it for a Ghost Rider post I've been drafting. It's a good idea to watch those things and I thank you very much for pointing them out. I tend to miss or forget a lot and it helps improve what content or ideas I can provide.