In thinking about this, I realized I had enough for a blog post! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed sharing it.
1) Thomas Jane made the best Punisher of the 3 films.
I personally feel he sold the role the best. I would very much like to see him reprise the role.
For those who were unaware, Dolph Lundren did star in a Punisher film once:
2) The Punisher, to me, is the hero/”anti-hero” that makes the most sense.
For me he requires the least “leaps of faith” or suspension of belief. I say this as someone that loves the “ridiculous heros”, an Ironman, Hulk. or the uber powerful last son of Krypton – Superman himself. He doesn’t have piles of money. He doesn’t have a super-genius intellect. He doesn’t have some kind of cutesy ”sick nasty throwing knife trick” he relies on exclusively (even though a person with the pre-requisite physical gifts like super hand eye coordination and eyesight that are necessary to perform the feat of throwing a knife effectively over 5 city blocks – would be infinitely more dangerous with a rifle) or any nonsense like that. He can’t fly, eat bullets, use metal claws to climb, none of that either. He’s a former Green Beret with a mountain of experience when it comes to doing bad things to bad people. He’s got several sets of skills that allow them to do this, he’s a world class warrior, one of the baddest dudes on the planet.
3) His former occupation.
I’ve had the great privilege of having conversed on many occasions with men of Frank’s occupation. Many former Special Operations warriors live normal lives upon their retirement from serving our nation. Their neighbors usually know these men as the “quiet guy at the end of the street. You see him jogging from time to time – he’s in pretty good shape, especially for an older guy. Keeps to himself, doesn’t bother anyone.” Knowing what I do about these guys, I enjoy seeing them represented with their own hero, the one that gets the job done. Of course he is different from his real life counterparts in several ways, but such is the reality in the fantasy (read: not real!) world of comics!
So many heroes, Kal-El and Batman included, are unwilling or unable to “kill” their villains. They would rather throw them in ComicGitmo or Super-Supermax, to allow them to escape for the 11th time, kill dozens more people, add a few more concurrent life sentences for their next 3 week stay, etc. As I understand it, the comic-book Punisher is sort of the same way. But in them Punisher films, he ties up loose ends. Frankie doesn’t have any silly rules that don’t allow him to stomp out villains like cigarette butts. Big mafia meeting at the local Italian restaurant that’s a front for money laundering? Frank has no problem crashing through the front door, and ventilating them with a Mk46 machine gun. In broad daylight, with 50 witnesses.
5) You don’t need to yell at the screen, Frank delivers.
I mulled over labeling this 4a! The Punisher films satisfy the movie goer’s appetite to see bad guys get obliterated. At the end of some vigilante movies you find yourself wanting more, “the bad guy got away”, or the feeling that they got off lightly. I know a lot of people were pissed off with how “Law Abiding Citizen” ended. The Punisher doesn’t let this happen, not while he can breathe.
6) No real mental road-blocks
The Sentry is a Marvel hero that doesn’t want to leave his house. In some comics, Bruce Banner does not like being the Hulk. Spiderman puts on mascara and does a Saturday night fever strut down the block. They cry, they stop being heroes for a while, etc. The Punisher? Everything he loves is gone. He’s got no real internal obstacles.
7) Analogous to the Terminator
Think for a moment – other than the robot part and the things associated with it, what separates the Punisher from the Terminator?
-Iron willed determination to complete the mission
-No sympathy for opponents
-Good one liners
-Wide array of tactics used
-Explosions, mayhem, and gore
-No mental hindrances/non-conflicts
As a Terminator fan, having a former Green Beanie ass-kicker that’s practically analogous to the Terminator is icing on the cake!