For some reason Marvel Comics’ Punisher has been a difficult nut to crack–despite the fact that the character is essentially Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) from 1974’s Death Wish, a movie that went on to do pretty well at the box office.
His first appearance was in New World Pictures 1984 movie The Punisher, and despite the criticism that surrounds that movie, wasn’t terrible–which isn’t to imply that it was great, though it was enjoyable in its own way–and Dolph Lindgren (and his ever-present Swedish accent) interpreted the material pretty well.
Unfortunately, not even the Punisher couldn’t get people into theaters, and the movie flopped.
The character was revisited again in LionsGate’s 2004 movie The Punisher, this time starring Thomas Jane.
Jane does pretty well in the role, despite not being as physically similar to the character as Lundgren.
And it once again underperforms–despite that if you move forward ten years to 2014 Denzel Washington starred in the successful movie interpretation of The Equalizer (based on a 1985 CBS television series) who essentially IS the Punisher.
Lionsgate tried again in 2008 with Punisher: War Zone which was similar in tone to the 1984 movie (with its violence intact and intensified, if nothing else).
And it too didn’t do that well, and since you’d be lucky to get one chance at success, never mind three, you’d be safe in assuming that the Punisher had killed his last opponent.And you’d be wrong because by this time the rights to the Punisher had reverted back to Marvel Studios, and somehow became a part of the deal between Marvel Television and Netflix to produce superhero series based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, culminating in The Defenders.
Which could perhaps be interpreted as a bad thing if it weren’t for the fact that–unlike in the past–movie actors no longer treat television as the place you go when your career is in decline, with TV producing high-quality productions like The Wire on a similar scale as movies, but with the additional ability of episodic nature to better develop characters and situations.
Which brings us back to the Punisher, who’s going to appear in the second series of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix, played by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Fury) who will probably get his own series as well.
The two Marvel Television/Netflix released so far, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, have been well received by casual viewers, fans and critics so there’s no reason to think that the second series of Daredevil–and a new Punisher series–won’t be successful as well.