After a number of unsuccessful attempts to bring The Punisher to the big screen, the character is finally enjoying a critically praised run on Marvel’s Daredevil television show with actor Jon Bernthal playing the role of Frank Castle. However, before the character made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were attempts to bring the character back to the big screen with actor Thomas Jane reprising the role and a script from Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter. While the project was ultimately scrapped, Sutter recently spoke with Looper where he explained why Marvel rejected his script and discussed his approach the character.
Sutter explained that he tried take certain liberties with the Punisher and why that presented certain challenges.
“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.”
Sutter discussed his approach the the character and how the time constraints of a feature film hindered his goals.
“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.”
Now that Netflix has ordered a Punisher series with Jon Bernthal reprising the role, it is unlikely we will get a new Punisher film any time soon, much less with Sutter as a screenwriter. However, that will not stop fans from speculating on how a take on the character from the Sons of Anarchy showrunner would have turned out.