There have been three movie incarnations of The Punisher since he was created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. in 1974, and while a popular character in comics, his movies never quite seemed to connect with audiences.
The first movie was in 1978, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/The Punisher. It was okay, though he never displayed the the iconic skull emblem the character is known for (this lack of fidelity to the character was made up by it being somewhat gory).
The next version was in 2004 with Thomas Jane (who while physically is probably a bit short, he brought acting chops beyond Lundgren’s). It was okay, but failed in some really peculiar ways, such as as some underwhelming special effects and odd story beats (what I like to call the ‘fire hydrant scene’ is pretty bizarre).
Though at least he wore the iconic skull.
Thomas Jane also appeared in a short as The Punisher in 2012 (The Punisher: Dirty Laundry).
The Punisher next made another appearance in 2008 (This time played by Ray Stevenson) in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone.
Easily the best interpretation of the character in movies–though some of the violence was way over the top and more cartoonish than anything seen prior–Stevenson brought the size of Lundgren, and the acting chops of Jane to the role.
Though it still underperformed in theaters.
Enter 2017, and the Punisher is back. Introduced in season two of Marvel’s Daredevil and graduating to his own series (a better format for the character than movies) Jon Bernthal brings us a Punisher worthy of the name.