Thomas Jane’s 2004 film The Punisher was a great adaptation of the comic and character. That film was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, and it was a brutal, intense, action-packed movie that told a great story of dark revenge. We know that there were a few sequels to the film that were pitched to Marvel before Punisher: War Zone was made by director Lexi Alexander. Jane was replaced in that film as Frank Castle by Ray Stevenson. Jane recently revealed that Rob Zombie actually pitched one of those sequels. In a recent interview with CB, the actor shared:
“There were a couple of iterations of Punisher 2. One of them was with Rob Zombie directing, which I thought would have been interesting. But that was one iteration. We were batting around script ideas and trying to find a new director. The Marvel folks wanted to go with a different director, and that was their choice, so it was like, ‘Who is that person going to be?'” When Zombie was rejected as the director, Marvel ended up going to John Dahl, the director of 1998’s Rounders and 2001’s Joy Ride. He was in talks to helm the sequel, but he dropped. According to Jane, the sequel “went through a number of different sort of folks,” including the “immensely talented” Walter Hill (Hard Times, 48 Hours).
The actor described Hill as a ” no-nonsense, great action [director], but economical, sparse dialogue, he had a great sense of humor but he was really good with action. He’s a man’s man director, right?” Jane went on to say: “We met and fell in love with each other and went to the studio. Walter said, ‘I’ll write it, and direct it, and that’ll be that.’ They ended up saying no to Walter Hill for reasons that are beyond my ability to comprehend. That’s when I said, ‘If you’re not going to make the perfect Punisher film with the perfect guy, then who else do you got?’ They floated another director who hadn’t really done anything in that ballpark, and so that’s when I had to pull out. I had to say, ‘Listen, I’m not sure if you guys really understand what it is you’re doing. Therefore, the chances of fucking this up are pretty high.”
Jane explained that he wanted to adapt 1986’s Punisher: Circle of Blood, Steven Grant’s five-issue storyline putting the Punisher in prison. But, it’s an idea that they “never really got far on.” He explained: “Circle of Blood is, essentially, the Punisher gets fucking arrested and he gets thrown into the penitentiary. And every guy in there wants to kill him because he had a hand in putting away all these dudes. He was going into the lion’s den, and of course, he put himself in there on purpose because he was after this one dude that was ungettable, so he got himself put away to go after these guys. I thought, ‘We can have so much fun doing that.’ But that’s about as far as we got with that.”
That would have made a badass Punisher movie! It’s a shame that it never happened. As for the director, there’s no way Rob Zombie would have been able to effectively pull off a Punisher film. He’s not a very good director. However, Walter Hill would have delivered a Badass Punisher movie! It’s kinda crazy that Marvel turned him down! I would have liked to see Thomas Jane continue to make Punisher movies during that time. He was great in the role! But, I also really enjoyed Jon Bernthal’s take on the character, and it’ll be great to see him come back to the role in the MCU.