With the film rights to The Punisher reverting to Marvel Studios in early 2013 – alongside other antiheroes Blade and Ghost Rider – fans have been clamouring for a clean slate for murderous vigilante, Frank Castle.
Based on his performance in street-level dystopian horror The Purge: Anarchy and his central role in the forthcoming US remake of The Raid, Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Frank Grillo is our pick for the character.
When we told him so on Twitter it kicked off a wave of agreement from his legion of fans, followed a couple of days later by a Tweet from Grillo saying simply “I like the idea of this. Who do I need to talk to?”
Accompanying it, a Steve Dillon illustration of Frank Castle.
Frank Grillo: Punisher reboot is a “grassroots thing”
“I like the idea of the antihero,” said, Grillo, speaking exclusively to SciFiNow to support the home entertainment release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he plays SHIELD bad-ass Brock Rumlow.
“I like a guy who… like in The Purge: Anarchy, my character in The Purge is very internal and physical. I think all men want to think that without consequences you would be that guy, you could be that guy.
“It started out after Captain America, people started talking to me about The Punisher and I kinda familiarised myself with him a little bit. It kinda turned into this grassroots thing and then I tweeted about it because I thought, ‘You know what, I like this idea – who do we talk to?’
“I’m telling ya, it went off the charts. Everybody was like ‘We gotta do this!’”
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Castle’s movie career has been suitably chequered, but featuring no less than three takes on the character – Ray Stevenson in 2008’s unfairly overlooked War Zone, Thomas Jane in 2004’s cartoonish misfire and Dolph Lundgren in 1989’s by-the-numbers revenge actioner.
Jane’s recent return to the role – albeit it unnamed – in grimy 2012 short film Dirty Laundry, however, suggests a real hunger for a new street-level Punisher film and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Fiege has teased a possible cameo for the character in the forthcoming Daredevil show for Netflix.
It’s unprecedented for a Marvel Studios actor to double up (although in the wider Marvel brand it’s happened with Chris Evans appearing in Fantastic Four and Captain America, to give just one example), it seems more likely at a distance from the mainline Marvel Cinematic Universe.
More importantly though, Grillo certainly has the chops to play the battle-scarred US Marine veteran, haunted by the tragic loss of his family and pushed over the edge to wage a one-man war on crime.
Frank Grillo: “I lean toward darker characters”
“See, that’s what’s attracts me,” he affirms. “It’s funny you say the word scars because in every movie that I do I try to scar my face. I try to put scars on my face, if you can see them or they’re subtle.
“I’m a boxer, I’ve boxed for 25 years. I walk a certain way, I carry my body’s curve a certain way, my hands hang on my arms a certain way – so when you walk through the world a certain way, people respond to you that way. That’s why on film, unexpectedly, people are seeing me as certain kind of character, which I’m humbled by and it’s been fascinating to me.
“I’m a physical guy,” Grillo continues. “I’m an incredibly intense guy – sometimes to a fault. I’ve gotten myself in trouble because I’m intense. I approach everything, whether it’s boxing, whether it’s acting, whether it’s raising my kids… sometimes I step over the line, I get too intense, I say something I shouldn’t say or I move the way I shouldn’t move.
“I’m drawn to these people for a reason. I tend to lean toward the darker things, not that I’m a nihilist, but I tend to lean toward the darker things and question those things. I don’t think it’s an accident or a coincidence, it’s a meeting of necessity, these characters and myself.”
Kevin Feige, make it happen: put this man in a goddamn Punisher costume.