With Deadpool about to take the world by storm, it seems the R-rated superhero movie is gaining a little momentum as of late. In a genre dominated with lucrative family-friendly movies, and the audience regularly demanding more and more, it was only a matter of time before the mature superheroes came a knocking, and with Deadpool receiving rave reviews already, it seems to be setting a precedent for all that follow.
But let’s not forget that Marvel has attempted this before, on numerous occasions, with one of their popular fan-favorites: The Punisher. Featuring three motion pictures (1989, 2004, 2008), the franchise has received a mixed response at best. Some blame the violent content, and others think the films came along at the wrong time. With the Punisher about to get a resurrection on Netflix in Daredevil season 2, and potentially provide the best incarnation of the character yet, the last actor to play Frank Castle has given his opinion on the re-emergence of a hero he treasures dearly, and gives Marvel his blessing. Yes, Ray Stevenson has spoken out, and he couldn’t be more happy.
Ray Stevenson played Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, back in 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, and received a lot of praise and acclaim for doing so. Despite the violent content of the movie, and the forbidden R-rating that can potentially hinder a superhero movie, his portrayal of the character was well-received. Even to this day, he has fans who respect him as their favorite vigilante, and it’s clear that the actor has a fondness for a hero that, in terms of superhero cinema, hasn’t had a fair shake compared to his fellow comic book colleagues. With the revelation that the Punisher will be recast in Daredevil season 2, Stevenson had his say in an interview with Cinema Blend.
“I’m delighted that the character is still vivid and valid. Punisher is from the Max series of Marvel comics which is technically an R-rated, I mean it’s a very violent man doing very violent things to very violent people. How he will translate to the audience, I wish them all the very best. But, when I look at Garth Ennis’ writing, I found it to be some of the most sophisticated and intelligent writing I’ve ever come across.”
What Stevenson is alluding to is a simple fact — movies have a little more leeway than the TV networks when it comes to violent content, which means bringing the Punisher to the small screen might be difficult. The Punisher, both in comic and movie form, is infamous for containing extreme violence and bad language, and its very difficult to see a TV network sanctioning a show with such material contained therein. In recent years, the arrival of Netflix has broadened this a little; since Daredevil made its critically-acclaimed debut on the streaming website, the company has brought in darker superhero material in the form of Jessica Jones. With spin-offs planned for Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and many more projects in the works, it seems the future of more mature superhero fare is pretty safe. Which means one thing: The Punisher could fit nicely into Daredevil.
Its true to say that superhero cinema has become a billion dollar industry in the past 15 years, but mainly for family-friendly material. The Punisher, with it’s violence and restricted accessibility, may have fallen by the wayside because of this. With Netflix pioneering shows of a more adult nature, it seems right that The Punisher exists in an environment that benefits it. Fans will be happy to know that the early reaction has been positive, with critics praising the modern incarnation of the character. They must be doing something right though; The Punisher is currently being developed into a spin-off show, as revealed by TV Line.
But will The Punisher return to the big screen? Will we ever get a definitive Frank Castle movie? It remains to be seen. Ray Stevenson hasn’t given up on playing the violent vigilante.
“And when I did the movie, I think the only thing it suffered from was that our references were from comic books that were already 10-15 years old and I would love nothing more than to continue and bring Frank back… but bring Frank back to the big screen.”
Stevenson has been in excellent form since his portrayal of the fan-favorite. With star turns in Dexter, Rome and, more recently, Black Sails, the Irish actor is certainly in demand. Whether or not he picks up the skull embossed t-shirt one more time remains to be seen, but he might have a little competition from someone else.
Daredevil’s return is two months away, and Charlie Cox is set to reprise the titular role. Joining him will be Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as Elektra, and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) as Frank Castle. Netflix’s current superhero shows have set a trend for mature, adult themes, and with the audience watching in droves, expect The Punisher to be well-received. With Daredevil and Jessica Jones regularly stroking the dark underbelly of the Marvel universe, The Punisher has the potential to fit right in. Until the fans see it for themselves, one question remains. Just how will Jon Bernthal fare as one of Marvel’s most popular characters?
Find out when Daredevil season 2 airs on March 18, 2016.
[Image via Lionsgate Films]