Before Marvel and Netflix's stab at it, there were several attempts to bring The Punisher to life on screen, each one achieving, to put it kindly, mixed results. So, it's hard not to wonder what Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter would have come up with, with the writer and director revealing some details regarding a sequel he was developing to the 2004 outing starring Thomas Jane.
"It was a really interesting process and I had never worked with Marvel before. And you know, I think in my draft of the movie, I ultimately took too many liberties in f-cking with the IP - and it was a rewrite. I was not asked to do all that much. I just saw the story in a different way. So ultimately, I wrote the script and they were like, we didn't want this."
While Kurt Sutter does not divulge too much about what "liberties" he took exactly, the prospect of a Punisher movie under the guidance of Sutter would surely have been amazing. Sadly, Marvel did not agree and thus the project was never made, but Sutter did reveal that some of the elements he had incorporated were worked into the next attempt to spawn a franchise: 2008's Punisher: War Zone.
"But, one of the things I felt I got to do was bring a level of reality to it. I felt like I was able to sort of ground Frank [Castle] a little bit more in the world as I knew it. And the result of that was the recycling plant. And so, yeah, I think that and like, maybe a couple of pieces of dialogue and one other story turn were the remnants of my draft."
Despite not liking his approach to the material, War Zone used Sutter's creation of the movie's villain, Jigsaw, played by Dominic West, as well as the slight grounding of the character. Considering the studio clearly did not dislike all of Sutter's ideas, it's a shame the two could not have met somewhere in the middle, as we may have ended up with a worthy Punisher adaptation long before Marvel teamed with Netflix and cast Jon Bernthal.
The rights to the beloved vigilante have now reverted to Marvel Studios, and while there has been no official word on what the studio plans to do with the character, rumors have circulated recently that they are planning to bring back Bernthal for a standalone project. Sources have recently claimed that there is a "new Punisher project in the works with the same actor from Netflix," though any other details remain suspiciously scarce at this time.
Since Marvel's various Netflix shows were ended, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been bombarded with questions regarding whether audiences will ever see these iterations join the MCU. Despite often being rather cagey, Feige is gradually being worn down, and recently provided the most promising update yet. "Everything is on the board," he said in response to whether Marvel had plans to bring the characters back. "That's one of the fun things about the comics is that characters would appear and disappear and come and go. All of it is inspiration for the future. There are some great characters and actors from those shows." This comes to us from Coming Soon.