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The Punisher's Thomas Jane Reveals Marvel Rejected Rob Zombie Sequel


The Punisher star Thomas Jane revealed his pitch for Marvel's Punisher 2 and a version of the scrapped sequel directed by Rob Zombie. Jane starred as Frank Castle, a violent vigilante who wages war on crime after his family is murdered by the mob, in Lionsgate's 2004 adaptation of the Marvel Comics character. During a recent appearance at Tennessee's pop culture convention Fanboy Expo Knoxville, Jane said there were "a couple of iterations" of a Punisher sequel that never moved forward under Marvel Studios chairman and CEO Avi Arad. Lionsgate rebooted with 2008's Punisher: War Zone, replacing Jane with Ray Stevenson as Castle and Lexi Alexander taking over from Jonathan Hensleigh as director.

"There were a couple of iterations of Punisher 2. One of them was with Rob Zombie directing, which I thought would have been interesting. But that was one iteration," Jane said of the House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects filmmaker. "We were batting around script ideas and trying to find a new director. The Marvel folks wanted to go with a different director, and that was their choice, so it was like, 'Who is that person going to be?'"

John Dahl, director of 1998's Rounders and 2001's Joy Ride, was in talks to helm a follow-up with Jane but dropped out in 2007. The Punisher sequel "went through a number of different sort of folks," according to the actor, including the "immensely talented" Walter Hill. 

The Hard Times and 48 Hrs. filmmaker "was a no-nonsense, great action [director], but economical, sparse dialogue, he had a great sense of humor but he was really good with action. He's a man's man director, right?"

"We met and fell in love with each other and went to the studio. Walter said, 'I'll write it, and direct it, and that'll be that.' They ended up saying no to Walter Hill for reasons that are beyond my ability to comprehend," Jane said. "That's when I said, 'If you're not going to make the perfect Punisher film with the perfect guy, then who else do you got?' They floated another director who hadn't really done anything in that ballpark, and so that's when I had to pull out. I had to say, 'Listen, I'm not sure if you guys really understand what it is you're doing. Therefore, the chances of f—ing this up are pretty high.'"

Jane wished to adapt 1986's Punisher: Circle of Blood — writer Steven Grant's five-issue storyline putting the Punisher in prison — but the idea is one "we never really got far on." 

"Circle of Blood is, essentially, the Punisher gets f—ing arrested and he gets thrown into the penitentiary. And every guy in there wants to kill him because he had a hand in putting away all these dudes," Jane said with a laugh. "He was going into the lion's den, and of course, he put himself in there on purpose because he was after this one dude that was ungettable, so he got himself put away to go after these guys. I thought, 'We can have so much fun doing that.' But that's about as far as we got with that."

In 2017, Marvel TV rebooted with Jon Bernthal taking over as the character in the Daredevil spinoff series Marvel's The Punisher, which ran for two seasons before being canceled at Netflix. Bernthal is rumored to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe under Kevin Feige's Marvel Studios. 

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