Cast your mind back almost a decade ago, long before Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle stormed onto the scene via Netflix’s Daredevil series, and you’ll arrive at a point in time when The Punisher was struggling to make much of a lasting impression on the silver screen.
Despite efforts from Jonathan Hensleigh and later Lexi Alexander, the famed Marvel anti-hero proved a difficult butterfly to pin, though things would have panned out differently had Kurt Sutter’s original pitch received the green light from Marvel. Reflecting on his scrapped script in a chat with Looper (via Screen Rant), Sutter noted that his idea for The Punisher 2 – which later became Punisher: War Zone – was designed to “expand the Marvel Universe in a direction it should not have been expanded in.”
Sutter, whose writing credits include The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, The Bastard Executioner, begins by recounting his own history with Marvel. It’s a somewhat dated interview, but the writer still offers up some fascinating tidbits.
“I’m a Marvel fan, but I was not a comic book kid. I didn’t really get into that whole world until about 15 years ago, which is when I started getting into graphic novels. And that happened in Paris, because their graphic novel industry is decades beyond ours! But I didn’t realize that you can’t take liberties with some of the characters and some of the traits, because they are what they are. They’re very derivative, they’re stereotyped, but this is the guy that does this, and this is the guy who does this… So they’re two-dimensional for a reason: that’s the purpose they serve. So I was trying to expand the Marvel Universe in a direction it should not have been expanded in.”
When quizzed about The Punisher 2 specifically, Sutter admitted that he approached the character of Frank Castle in a somewhat unconventional manner.
“I think I was trying to write to the emotionality of this dude and motivate the absurd violence with some kind of meaning. I don’t mean that I was, like, f—ing Gandhi [Laughs]. But I was just trying to root it a little bit more in the mental anguish that he went through to justify it, and to take a little bit of that journey… So I think that’s what I was trying to do: humanize him a little bit more. But it’s the kind of thing where there’s only X amount of time [in] the movies, so you have moments of that, but you can’t really have a subplot that explores that kind of thing. Not in a summer blockbuster or Marvel picture.”
Tell us, what are your thoughts on Sutter’s approach to The Punisher? Do you think it would have worked? Sound off below and let us know!