Ray Stevenson has done a great job of playing two of my favorite characters — The Punisher and Firefly — in two not-so-good movies, which is kind of sad. At least Marvel threw him something of a bone by having him play Volstagg in the Thor movies. But hey — he’s done well for himself. I just wish they’d made a better Punisher movie for him to be in.
Neither director Jonathan Hensleigh or star Thomas Jane — who said “What I won’t do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don’t believe in. I’ve always loved the Marvel guys, and wish them well. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to search for a film that one day might stand with all those films that the fans have asked me to watch.” — would return for this film. I mean, at one point, Walter Hill was going to be involved, but lack of a good script was one of the main reasons why Jane — who would come back to play Castle in a short called The Punisher: Dirty Laundry — walked away.
Director Lexi Alexander, a former soccer hooligan, World Karate Association world champion and United States Marine Corps close combat trainer, tried. She had famous battles with Lionsgate, who produced the film in the days before Marvel making all of their own films. She’d later say, “Marvel was an equal partner, but unfortunately when there were creative decision conflicts, Marvel would let Lionsgate be the tie breaker. I always regretted that I made a Marvel movie this way, because 99% of their notes were much better than the studios and I was more in tune with them.” There were rumors that she was taken off the film, which she denies, but she didn’t get final cut.
Roger Ebert referred to the film by saying “The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I’ve seen” and it’s been reeavluated since its release, but this is the lowest grossing Marvel film — I don’t know if they count the earlier Captain America — making even less than Elektra and Howard the Duck.
I mean, I love Jigsaw. I love the Punisher. This feels like it wants to be something other than a story from the comics and when those flipping acrobats show up? Yeah, I’m good. Not every bad movie can be reclaimed.