Rob Zombie was briefly attached to Thomas Jane The Punisher 2, which could have revitalized the film series. The Punisher has always held an odd place among Marvel superheroes. This is due to the fact that he doesn’t have any superpowers to speak of and he kills A LOT of people. Frank Castle/Punisher is a former Vietnamese vet who turned to vigilantism after his family was murdered, with the character originally created as a villain for Spider-Man. The character first hit the big screen in 1989 The Punisherwith Dolph Lundgren, which was also one of Marvel’s first character-based films.
the original Punisher The film became a cult favorite for its nerdy tone and large body count, but it received poor reviews and went straight to VHS in the United States. The film was also controversial among readers for not having Castle sporting his trademark skull logo. The character has been rebooted in live-action three times over the ensuing years; Tom Jane played the role in 2004 The PunisherRay Stevenson inherited the role for 2008 Punisher: Warzone while Jon Bernthal took Castle for daredevil season 2 and a solo series.
There are also rumblings that the latter will return for The Punisher season 3 too. Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is generally considered the best live-action release to date, though all three films have their supporters as well. Jane received excellent reviews for her work in 2004 Punisher, though the film itself was met with mixed responses for its odd combination of brutality and goofy comic relief. Jane himself was disappointed by this last bit and felt it hurt the movie, so he vowed to make a superior sequel that stays true to the comics. He eventually left the sequel after hating many script drafts, and in August 2022 he revealed during a Q&A at Fanboy Expo Knoxville (via FilmWeb) to which Rob Zombie was once attached The Punisher 2.
Rob Zombie’s style is perfect for Punisher
Other directors who circled The Punisher 2 include Jonathan Hensleigh – who directed the 2004 film – John Dahl (Rounders) and Walter Hill. It was Lionsgate that turned down Walter Hill’s offer to write and direct The Punisher 2 it also partly led to Jane’s exit. Unfortunately, the actor did not develop the version of Zombie for The Punisher 2, or what the story may have been. At the time, Zombie had just experienced the success of The devil’s rejections, his dark and violent neo-western which remains his best work. Zombie’s filmography often elicits divided responses, as while he’s capable of doing great work, he has some bad habits as a filmmaker and writer that can spoil the experience for some viewers.
That said, if Zombie was a good fit for a comedic “superhero,” it would be Frank Castle. Zombie’s gritty ’70s-inspired aesthetic and anti-hero love may suit him The Punisher 2, and with Jane – who has worked on several Stephen King films – he would have had a creative partner willing to push the boundaries. Zombie’s take on classic villains like Jigsaw or Barracuda might have been something to see too. Zombies Punisher would have been the reimagining the Jane version sorely needed, which likely would have ignored the 2004 film in favor of the director creating his own unique imprint on the comic book,
Zombie’s divisive style may not have gone over well with all fans of the character, but it would have been one of the most unique comic book movies of the 2000s. The Punisher 2 turned into Punisher: Warzone. Director Lexi Alexander’s film was a wild, entertaining and over-the-top homage to ’80s action movies, and intentionally refused to take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, it also came out the same year as Iron Man and The black Knightand its R-rated hyperviolent tone wasn’t what moviegoers were looking for at the time.