Comic book and film fans alike are about to see a brand new reincarnation of the iconic character Frank Castle when Punisher: War Zone explodes into theaters on December 5, and, of course, they couldn't pass the Comic-Con experience by. The film came to the Con this year with a panel featuring stars Ray Stevenson, who plays the new Frank Castle, Julie Benz, who portrays Angela Donatelli and producer Gale Anne Hurd. Sadly, Hurd told us, director Lexi Alexander couldn't make it to the event because she had just gotten married, to her first assistant director on the film, nonetheless.
However, director or no director, the show must go on and here are some of the highlights of this new panel:
- Hurd noted that they went back to the Marvel Max comic book series in this film because, "we wanted it to be cooler, ultra-violent, vigilante justice." Massive applause ensued.
- She also noted that, while they loved Thomas Jane and his portrayal of the previous Punisher, "but if it's not gonna be Tom Jane, find us a Frank Castle that looks like he came straight out of the comic book," referring to Ray Stevenson, which brought on another round of applause.
- Hurd went on to go over director Lexi Alexander's background, from her debut feature film, Green Street Hooligans to her Oscar-nominated short, Johnny Flynton before that and her successful career in martial arts before that. "She really can kick your ass," Hurd added, also noting how well she understands this level of action and violence.
- When Ray Stevenson started to talk and thanked everyone for coming, the crowd broke out in even louder applause, some shouting, "Pullo!!" in reference to his Titus Pullo character on the popular but short-lived HBO series, Rome.
- Both Julie Benz and Ray Stevenson hadn't read the comic books before signing on to their roles, but Stevenson added that, "the more I read them, I couldn't put them down."
- Stevenson also remarked on the training he underwent with Pat Johnson, "a 67-year-old walnut of a man," according to Stevenson, who had worked on Lexi Alexander's previous films and was apparently a personal friend and trainer for Steve McQueen years ago.
- Stevenson, in responding to a fan question, said that he would be open for potential sequels, noting, "It's up to the fanbase. If this works, then we get to do it all again." He also added that, "If it works well, we'll be back here showing the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that. There's a whole other world of Max."
- The panel ended with a new "music video" of footage that is really, really worth a look.
Punisher: War Zone explodes into theaters on December 5.