The Punisher Comes to a TV Near You!
A Pitch for "The Punisher" TV Series
by Pete Rogers and G.C. Rodriguez
Pete Rogers: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, The Wire… chances are that 99% of the people reading this article have seen at least one of these shows. The way their popularity has infiltrated into the pop culture lexicon is nothing short of a milestone for the television medium. What makes these shows so damn watchable is that they have taken what novels have done for centuries with richer plots, and put them into a faster, more digestible format for today’s public. Thinking about comics in this context, as I often do because doing other productive things scares me; I have come to realize that The Punisher is ideal for this type of show. So let’s all learn a little more about Frank Castle! We’re going to do this article like the Outsiders of nWo fame and Tag-Team this story! With me to help discuss the idea of a Punisher television show is G.C. Rodriguez.
G.C. Rodriguez: OK, so if we’re the Outsiders, does that mean I’m Scott Hall or am I Kevin Nash?
Pete Rogers: Well, I’m obviously Scott Hall because of my propensity towards swarthiness.
G.C. Rodriguez: You and you’re 25 cent words: propensity.
Pete Rogers: I takes it where I can gets it.
G.C. Rodriguez: So…the Punisher.
Pete Rogers: The Punisher. Should we assume that everyone knows who he is?
G.C. Rodriguez: Anyone who is on the website you would THINK would know who he is
Pete Rogers: I’m sure there’s someone out there thinking, “wasn’t the Punisher the movie where Vin Diesel was a babysitter?!”
G.C. Rodriguez: “Si vis pacem, para bellum; it’s Latin for ‘if you want naptime, prepare for war.’”
Pete Rogers: Haha, so let’s give the uninitiated a quick recap:
G.C. Rodriguez: Wait…I wanted to say real quick that I think for a TV series we should go with the movie version of the Punisher, the one from 2004 staring Thomas Jane. That way, we’re starting early in his career and not 30 years in like the comics.
Pete Rogers: OK, I can get behind that, kind of like Batman Begins. So then, I guess we have to address Punisher War Zone as well.
G.C. Rodriguez: I guess we do… that movie was so disappointing.
Pete Rogers: It garnered a lot of acclaim from Punisher fans. Patton Oswalt, for example thought it was a very faithful depiction.
G.C. Rodriguez: I love Patton Oswalt, but War Zone went in a completely different direction than the Thomas Jane version...and I was such a fan of that one I was disappointed.
Pete Rogers: It was too cartoony. The Thomas Jane version was more street level hero, the kind of Punisher that would translate to television.
G.C. Rodriguez: That’s what happens when you put Wayne Knight in a movie. He’s no good if he’s not getting eaten by a Dilophosaurus.
Pete Rogers: Haha, I couldn’t agree more. Now, Frank Castle was Special Forces and therefore was trained to be a master of hand to hand combat, weaponry and war tactics. Once he came back home from the war, he joined the FBI and added more skills to his repertoire such as multiple languages and international and domestic anti-terrorism. After his last case as a domestic FBI agent goes awry and the son of a local Mafia man gets gunned down, Frank goes on vacation to spend some quality time with his relatives. Unfortunately, the Mafioso is not too happy with Frank and finds him and executes his entire family.
G.C. Rodriguez: Frank manages to survive, lays low in Tampa and proceeds to execute a masterful plan where many of those responsible for killing his family end up killing each other. Frank comes in at the end and kind of mops up, and by mop up, I mean uses an array of weapons to execute them.
Pete Rogers: That scene with him storming the club with the bow and arrow was like watching an opera.
G.C. Rodriguez: A violent, bloody, explosive laden opera.
Pete Rogers: Are there any other kind?
G.C. Rodriguez: Apparently, I’ve been watching the wrong opera.
Pete Rogers: Frank executes his plan and all of Howard Saint’s criminal organization and states that “Frank Castle is dead. Call me…the Punisher,” as he leaves Tampa to pursue his war on crime.
G.C. Rodriguez: Of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, he elicits a certain amount of sympathetic understanding from the reader. If we were in his shoes, and we lost everyone that we loved, we would want to be able to punish those who deserved it; to ruthlessly make right what has been wrong. What better character to be showcased on television?
Pete Rogers: Absolutely.
G.C. Rodriguez: And you mentioned Breaking Bad earlier: the Punisher is the exact opposite of Walter White. When ol’ Walt had nothing left to lose, he sold meth to pay all of his bills and became a drug czar whereas Frank vows to rid the world of those who take advantage of the innocent. They’re two sides of the same coin. One a little balder than the other…but the point is still the same.
Pete Rogers: Dude, friggin excellent point on the Walter white comparison!
G.C. Rodriguez: Why thank you.
Pete Rogers: So since we’re continuing where the 2004 movie left off, we don’t need to do the origin story. We can have flashbacks of his wife and kid getting offed at various points.
G.C.: Yeah, to remind people that he always is thinking of it. In fact, let’s talk about that first episode of the Punisher series.
Pete: Yeah…I like this.
G.C.: So our “pilot” would have Frank sitting in a rundown apartment looking out of his window. At first we think he’s just staring aimlessly out of the window, because we can hear the distant screams of his wife as they get taken out by the Saint’s organization and Frank yelling “MARIA!” so we assume he’s having a flashback. Frank watches a delivery man come home from work. The shot focuses on the man talking to another man standing in front of the building. Before he can enter his building, a large man stops him and asks him if he’s reconsidered working for “the family” again. The delivery man says that he isn’t interested because he has a family now and that was in his past. The large man, who we find out is named Tony, laughs and says you can’t just get out like that. He sends a text and there are two shots and a scream that are heard. The delivery man looks panicked and tries to get past the large man but he won’t let him by. The large man informs him that the only family he has is “my family.” The large man opens the door and two other large men exit the building as the delivery man runs towards his apartment.
The men are walking towards their car when a man in a black trench coat and black boots is waiting for them. One of the thugs tells the man in the trench coat to get out of here before something bad happens. The man looks up and says “too late for that,” and we see that it’s the Punisher. He quickly shoots the two thugs before they can even pull their guns. Tony tries to run but Frank pulls out a tazer and shocks Tony to the ground. He then drags him to an overpass and interrogates him to find out who he works for. When he “shakes out” the information that he is a thug for the Gnuccis, Frank drops him from the overpass. The package delivery man watches on and Frank gives him a knowing nod. The Punisher has his target now and proceeds to inform the viewer of the crime family and their dealings as we see a montage of some of their awful acts. The murder of the wife and child is on the news and Frank briefly hallucinates that he heard his wife and son’s name on the news but looks at the screen in disbelief as it is the names of the wife and child of the courier.
Pete: Wow. That’s a hell of an introduction!
GC: The Punisher isn’t always subtle.
Pete: From there we can have the Punisher start demolishing the Gnuccis whole base of operations but find out they’re not the top of the food chain, so he moves on from New York. I think it would be interesting to have him going to different cities to take out all phases of this operation, each city showing that Frank is not any closer to finding the head of this crime organization.
GC: Nice! I like that!
Pete: So at some point in like…I don’t know…Chicago, he runs into Jigsaw. Frank has him cornered and Jigsaw laughs and tells him "you have no idea how big this operation is…"
GC: OH! And that this whole war on crime is all because of a rat in the FBI that sold him out!
GC: OK, it was a deleted scene in the 2004 movie that Agent Weeks, Frank’s buddy from the FBI and his days in Special Forces, sold him out to the Saints. This gets passed over in the theatrical and DVD release of the movie, so technically it’s not “canon.” So why not revisit this point in the new series? Make it the big mid season cliff hanger.
Pete: OK, that just blew my mind. But wait…I got something to one up you.
GC: Lay it on me.
Pete: The second half of the season builds to the big crime boss being none other than Kingpin.
GC: I was hoping you were going to go there and then you actually did… and I'm still excited!
Pete: This would be such a good show!
GC: We are incredibly lame.
Pete: No GC, we’re enthusiasts. Our excitement is endearing and loveable.
GC: and…just a little lame.
Pete: Yeah, it is…but I’m stoked.
GC: ME TOO!
Pete: So there you have it folks; GC and I have found a way to bring back the Punisher to a medium that would suit him nicely and give us all the delightful gore and violence we love so dearly.