Season two of #MarvelsDaredevil introduced us to Jon Bernthal's badass interpretation of #ThePunisher, and if we could summarize our thoughts into one word (however hard it may be to do so), it would have to be...phenomenal. Jon was nothing short of amazing! As soon as he appeared on the show, he was an instant hit amongst comic book fans all around, and #MarvelStudios didn't hesitate in ordering a #Netflix series of his own, and even less time to start filming, for that matter.
But as most know, we had received a few, slightly middle-of-the-road film outings based on the vigilante-hitman. The first film was in 1989, and starred #DolphLundgren, the second being in 2004, starring #ThomasJane, and 2008's Punisher: War Zone, starred #RayStevenson.
However, did you know that Thomas Jane's version was to have a sequel, and #KurtSutter was brought in to direct that sequel? It's a bit of information that only a few people know. Gale Ann Hurd (a producer on the Punisher film at the time) and #Marvel, wanted Sutter to rewrite a script that they already had. But things didn't go just as Marvel had wanted/planned. About three months ago Kurt was talking with Looper, and he told them the whole story.
So I turn in this draft, and I'm, like, "Aw, yeah, I'm shakin' up Marvel, man!" And literally there were people—including Gale Ann Hurd—who were, like, "Uh…" They didn't know what the f— happened! And it's not like I didn't do the things I said I was going to do, but…I also did a lot of other things! And 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 [Laughs].
Sutter went on to explain how he wanted to bring more emotional depth to Marvel's anti-hero, and that he believed #ThomasJane was the perfect actor to pull it off. He even brought in a love interest for Frank Castle but that, too, was a, "No Go Ghost Rider" on Marvel's part.
Doing the research on it, he's such an iconic character and really pretty much every vigilante since has some piece of that, but what I think I was trying to do… I'd known Thomas Jane a little bit, and I thought he was a great actor and had a lot of emotional depth that maybe some other action stars may not have. So 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. And that's why I had the connection with the female character: because I was able to explore that pain through that relationship. 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 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.
Obviously, there again, that wasn't the direction that #Marvel wanted #ThePunisher to go, so they scrapped his revised script, and decided against the project altogether. And a few years later we received the 2008 movie with a script written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Nick Santora. #Looper went on to ask if Kurt Sutter received any recognition/positive feedback on what he'd done. To that he replied,
You know, if there was, I don't think that's something that would ever have been vocalized to me. Look, it's not like I turned in the script and it was written in a different language. I mean, there were parts of it they liked. I think they realized what I was trying to do…and how wrong that was [Laughs]. So they tried to guide me back, and like I said, I did another pass, but poor Gale Anne Hurd—I think she's the one who sort of championed me in that process. And Kevin [Feige]…We were sitting at a big table, and I think she started glancing over at Kevin, going [whispering under breath] "I don't know what happened!" Anyway, I'm sure there was good feedback, but as a writer, all I ever hear is bad feedback! And I think at that point, Marvel was already…not quite the machine it is now, but it was finding its legs. And I think there was just a process that was going down, and there were a lot of people who were sort of being let go and given producing gigs. They started cleaning house a little bit at that time and managing the IPs in a different way, and Kevin pretty much led that charge.
Kurt Sutter is such a phenomenal writer, as some of his other projects have shown e.g. #SonsOfAnarchy, #TheShield, #TheBastardExecutioner, and #Southpaw, so it's kind of hard to believe that Marvel would turn down a script from him.
Though we'll probably never see his version of the character, here's an amazing short by the incredible Adi Shankar!
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