The Punisher: Why John Wick's Directors are a Perfect Fit

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Posted by k4tzm4n (41766 posts) - - Show Bio
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Last weekend, I watched Keanu Reeves' latest action movie, John Wick. After taking some time to think about the film, I couldn't help but realize the two directors -- David Leitch and Chad Stahelski -- would be the perfect people to bring Frank Castle into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, there might be a Punisher easter egg in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but we're talking about the anti-hero's big debut.

John Wick is a very straightforward action movie about a man who has nothing to lose. The plot feels like it could be something from a classic Sly or Arnold action movie, but what helps it stand apart from the gazillion other generic shoot 'em up films is how well everything is executed. From the emotion to the stunts to the cinematography, John Wick avoids becoming just another "man against the mob" movie and manages to leave a lasting impression. When Frank Castle finally gets his own project -- whether it's on Netflix or the big screen -- the team behind John Wick has what it takes to create an awesome Punisher experience.

Don't continue if you don't want John Wick spoilers that are already revealed in its trailers!

There's a few strong parallels between John and Frank's stories. John Wick is about a former hitman who left his career because he fell in love. Unfortunately, the woman he fell in love with has a terminal illness and eventually, she passes away. All that John Wick has left in life is his car (I'm not a car guy, but it's pretty impressive) and he seems directionless. Then his doorbell rings and he has to sign for a delivery. What's the package, you ask? An adorable puppy. Knowing she would eventually die, John's wife arranged to have him sent a companion after her death; something that'll make sure he still has something to love and isn't alone in his grieving. Sadly, a Russian mobster's son and his goons break into John's home, kill his beyond cute dog, and then steal his car. Why'd they do that? Simply because John refused to sell his car when he bumped into them at a gas station. Now John has only one thing on his mind: revenge.

As for Frank, you all know his story, right? A skilled soldier whose family is slaughtered by the mob during a nice picnic. Frank them embarks on a mission to rid the wold of scum. Sure, there's a ton of differences between the two leads, but at the end of the day, both men are emotionally scarred by criminals and then seek revenge. Again, it's not the most original story around, but we'll soon explain why John Wick's team made it great and how they could use a similar approach to make Punisher great, too.

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Yes, Keanu Reeves' fantastic performance plays a big role in what makes John Wick worth seeing. The script may seem silly to some and in the wrong hands it would have been, but Reeves fully embraces it and dominates the role. Reeves is a key element in making John Wick memorable, but it's worth noting Marvel Studios is known for their spot-on casting. Every hero has been brought to life phenomenally by their respective actor or actress. There's no reason to believe it would be any different when it comes to casting Frank Castle, one of their most well-known anti-heroes.

Even though the trailer reveals the tragedy John Wick endures, the handling of the scene is still emotional. Instead of busting out of the gate with big action, this is a movie that establishes an emotional connection and turns into a character-driven story. It's not just a forced tragedy so we can get a lot of really, really fun action sequences. The handling of it is heartfelt and we get glimpses of his thoughts to help us understand what he's going through. It's not heavy-handed and loaded with exposition -- it's subtle and effective. They spend just the right amount of time building up the character and tension before all of the shooting begins. Seeing as Frank Castle has such a well-known story, that's exactly the kind of approach the guy needs. It doesn't blow your mind with any twists and turns and it doesn't go over-the-top in an attempt to make you cry; it simply focuses on character and makes you understand the emotional weight he's carrying. Someone shouldn't watch a Punisher movie and only be impacted by the shooting. They should make us care about Frank and root for him as he faces seemingly impossible odds. Even though we all know what Frank goes through, it still needs to hit us like a ton of bricks. Well, that's exactly how they made me feel about John Wick. It didn't just thrive because of cool action scenes -- it also thrived because of character.

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Before we talk about the handling of the action, there's another thing that makes John Wick special and it would benefit a Punisher story: Worldbuilding. Writer Derek Kolstad gave this directors a familiar world but packed it with new elements. Instead of hitting us with all of the tropes you've come to expect from a movie about a guy who has lost it all and is now taking on the mob, John Wick begins to establish a whole new setting -- one which is somewhat silly yet treated in a way that makes it all so much fun. Just like Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn't stop to explain what it is and why it exists. It expects you to pay attention and knows you can put together the pieces on your own. There's a hotel where criminals stay and it's agreed that no one can conduct "business" on its premises. It's here that the world begins to unravel and we see there's so much more potential in this universe as we meet new characters and continue to see how "business" is conducted. If they could do this with a mob movie, imagine what they could accomplish with the Marvel Cinematic Universe? We've seen HYDRA and other villainous organizations, but what about the street level criminal element? What about the gangs in New York? What kind of scene is Jigsaw running and how has it managed to avoid drawing attention? We'll likely begin to see that in Netflix's Daredevil series, but this team has proven they can take a familiar world and turn it into something interesting and refreshing. They can see what went down in Daredevil's series and expand it. What if Jigsaw is one of Kingpin's competitors? Or what if he's just one of the many other organizations working for the big man? What if Daredevil is then thrown into the mix as Frank wages his war against criminals? There's so many ways they can tell a story about the Punisher while also adding a little more depth to Marvel's world.

If Frank Castle's going to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he needs action scenes that'll wow viewers. It shouldn't be overly violent -- that just wouldn't mesh well with the rest of the universe -- but it shouldn't feel watered down, either. Both of John Wick's directors are former stuntmen and it really shows. They're able to make us believe John Wick's the ultimate badass. From the intense and swift grappling to using pistols with uncanny precision, the action scenes are consistently thrilling. It's tempting to go on and on about the handling of the stunts, but why not watch a clip and judge for yourself? In the below clip, John tactically takes down 8 goons. It's never gruesome or over-the-top; it just shows how calculating and focused the lead is. Something like that is critical in a Punisher movie. If he's going to inhabit a world with Daredevil and Thor, we need to believe he's one of the most gifted and cunning human combatants on the planet. We need to think he could find a way out of an encounter with one of the famous heroes or villains. Also, considering the following clip isn't gory, action like that should be able to receive a PG-13 rating -- something Marvel Studios would obviously want. If you really enjoy the clip, click here for another one. Scenes like those feel perfect for Punisher, don't they?

Given the opportunity, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski could create a Punisher story that's character-driven, emotional and full of exciting action. We all know Frank's story by now, but they have what it takes to make it engaging and leave you wanting more. As if that wasn't enough, John Wick proves they'd be able to successfully add new layers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, too. If Frank Castle is going to become part of the evergrowing universe which includes great characters like Captain America and Iron Man, he needs a compelling and fun debut; not just a generic movie which happens to include a lot of action. John Wick's directors? Yeah, they can do that.

Do you think John Wick's directors would be a good choice for a Punisher movie (or Netflix series) or is there another director you have in mind?

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#1 Edited by SaintWildcard (21957 posts) - - Show Bio
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#2 Posted by TommytheHitman (6836 posts) - - Show Bio

....where was the Punisher Easter egg in Cap 2?

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#3 Posted by SaintWildcard (21957 posts) - - Show Bio

These guys were great and deserve more work. Hopefully DC snags them first :P. But I can't think of which DC character for them to direct ..... maybe a Deathstroke movie

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#4 Posted by redbird3rdboywonder (7157 posts) - - Show Bio
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#5 Posted by SilverPool (4562 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't care for the Punisher, but after seeing John Wick I must agree.

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#6 Posted by SaintWildcard (21957 posts) - - Show Bio
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#7 Edited by k4tzm4n (41766 posts) - - Show Bio

@tommythehitman said:

....where was the Punisher Easter egg in Cap 2?

It's during the car chase with Nick Fury. A truck hits the cars following Fury, and according to Joe Russo, the driver is "very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He's got a plan and a very specific skill set." Everyone began to speculate he's talking about Frank Castle, so that's why I said there might be one in the movie.

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#8 Posted by MuyJingo (2862 posts) - - Show Bio

Can't wait to see this movie, heard only good things. I always thought Dirty Laundry showed just how much potential there is in the Punisher franchise when treated with respect.

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#9 Posted by dagmar_merrill (12701 posts) - - Show Bio
@k4tzm4n said:

@tommythehitman said:

....where was the Punisher Easter egg in Cap 2?

It's during the car chase with Nick Fury. A truck hits the cars chasing Fury twice, and according to Joe Russo, the driver is "very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He's got a plan and a very specific skill set." Everyone began to speculate he's talking about Frank Castle, so that's why I said there might be one in the movie.

I totally missed that.

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#10 Posted by Knightsofdarkness2 (8155 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree

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#11 Posted by redbird3rdboywonder (7157 posts) - - Show Bio

@muyjingo said:

Can't wait to see this movie, heard only good things. I always thought Dirty Laundry showed just how much potential there is in the Punisher franchise when treated with respect.

Apparently everyone seems to forget about Thomas Jane's Punisher for some reason. I loved Dirty Laundry and the 04 movie

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#12 Posted by Loki2u (325 posts) - - Show Bio

"Keanu Reeves' fantastic performance plays a big role in what makes John Wick worth seeing."

Never thought I'd hear THOSE words together in the same sentence!

Just kidding...I actually enjoy Keanu, and wouldn't mind checking John Wick out. Since I haven't seen the movie, I can't comment on if the directors would be a good fit, but I could handle a reboot of The Punisher at some point in the near future. (Which, according to marvels phase 3 announcement, doesn't sound like it would be anytime soon).

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#13 Posted by viin (953 posts) - - Show Bio

Im tired of hearing about the future of the MCU...they just announced a whole lineup of movies all the way up to 2019..do we really need to look that far ahead?

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#14 Edited by MadeinBangladesh (12493 posts) - - Show Bio

YES YES YES. Make the NEtflix series now!

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#15 Edited by daredevil21134 (15939 posts) - - Show Bio

Franks Castle needs to be on Netflix with the rest of the street levelers that Marvel doesn't seem interested on putting on film for some reason.Hopefully he appears in Daredevil

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#16 Posted by k4tzm4n (41766 posts) - - Show Bio

Franks Castle needs to be on Netflix with the rest of the street levelers that Marvel doesn't seem interested on putting on film for some reason.Hopefully he appears in Daredevil

Yeah, if the first phase of Netflix builds the Defenders, I'm really hoping a second phase (which hasn't been confirmed) would build the Marvel Knights.

@loki2u said:

"Keanu Reeves' fantastic performance plays a big role in what makes John Wick worth seeing."

Never thought I'd hear THOSE words together in the same sentence!

Just kidding...I actually enjoy Keanu, and wouldn't mind checking John Wick out. Since I haven't seen the movie, I can't comment on if the directors would be a good fit, but I could handle a reboot of The Punisher at some point in the near future. (Which, according to marvels phase 3 announcement, doesn't sound like it would be anytime soon).

Blasphemy! But yeah, he does a great job. I wouldn't be surprised if Punisher eventually gets a Netflix series. I suppose it all depends on whether they view these upcoming Netflix shows as a success.

@viin said:

Im tired of hearing about the future of the MCU...they just announced a whole lineup of movies all the way up to 2019..do we really need to look that far ahead?

And yet you clicked the article...? Also, read it, foo! This article exists because of a current movie. I'm not saying why Punisher needs to appear in Phase 4 or Netflix; just that if he does, this team would be a great fit and why.

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#17 Posted by kennybaese (1241 posts) - - Show Bio

@redbird3rdboywonder: I'm with you on that. I think that the 2004 movie is a ton of fun. I thought that War Zone was terrible though.

I doubt that after Punisher (2004) and Punisher: War Zone did so poorly Marvel will be willing to put up the money for a Punisher movie. Besides, the character really isn't suited to the kind of blockbuster stories they're telling with the movies these days.

However, if the grittier Netflix shows do well I could see Frank Castle fitting in well with that corner of the MCU.

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#18 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (45774 posts) - - Show Bio

I want Rupert Friend to play Frank Castle

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#19 Posted by CaptainHoopla (1974 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article, and yes I think it's an excellent choice for directors. Now, if they could only cast Timothy Olyphant as Frank, it would be perfect.

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#20 Edited by westy206 (1073 posts) - - Show Bio

@captainhoopla: I always thought Timothy Olyphant and Terry Crews would be a good combo for Iron Fist and Luke Cage.

If another Punisher film were to happen who would be the most pleasing villain to see and why?

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#21 Edited by mangakid1995 (609 posts) - - Show Bio

@westy206: probably wouldn't be the King Pin because he's supposedly going to be a major antagonist for the Daredevil and the Defenders over all. So maybe Tombstone, Silvermane or Hammerhead. Although all those guys may have gone the way of the Spider so who knows. There's alot of overlap between Dardevil, Spider-Man, and The Punishers rogues, it's really hard to pick out one guy that only bothers Frank or at least to think of one who isn't already dead/irrelevant.

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#22 Posted by SymbioticSpider-Man (3595 posts) - - Show Bio

@k4tzm4n: I really do hope they make Punisher part of the MCU. I love Frank almost as much as I love Peter (no homo) Thanks for writing about this, bro.

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#23 Edited by Deadpool_9 (59 posts) - - Show Bio

@k4tzm4n: "It's during the car chase with Nick Fury. A truck hits the cars chasing Fury twice, and according to Joe Russo, the driver is "very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He's got a plan and a very specific skill set." Everyone began to speculate he's talking about Frank Castle, so that's why I said there might be one in the movie."

I seem to remember reading that this was a joke they had during production.

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#24 Posted by WheatStalker (359 posts) - - Show Bio

Punch-shooting ... shoot-punching ... hand-to-hand head-shots ... realistic re-loading ... I could watch those video clips all day, I need to see John Wick, thanks. You're right, these guys could do justice to a Punisher film. Can we have Natasha learn how to punch-shoot from Frank.

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#25 Edited by The Impersonator (8500 posts) - - Show Bio

Frank Grillo should play as Punisher. He was awesome in The Purge: Anarchy. Unfortunately, he's playing Crossbones.

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#26 Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever (9890 posts) - - Show Bio

@saint_wildcard said:

These guys were great and deserve more work. Hopefully DC snags them first :P. But I can't think of which DC character for them to direct ..... maybe a Deathstroke movie

Deathstroke is a Teen Titans villain, and he has done nothing to warrant his own film.

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#27 Posted by amazing_webhead (9928 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm convinced

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#29 Edited by LSROTJ (126 posts) - - Show Bio

The Punisher next to superheroes and villains... no thanks. He doesn't belong in that type of world where characters wear tight brightly color leather cat-suits. The Punisher is not a super solider, nor should he be shown as one. There would be no real reason for him to even be there, Frank Castle is just a normal person with no super powers or abilities, he's not super fast or strong, nor does he have incredible eye where he can shoot everything he sees. Sorry, but he wouldn't be able to bring or provided anything to a team in a MCU. You could just easily replace him with a nameless agent or soldier and not much would be loss.

One of the main reasons why Dirty Laundry worked so well is because it's set in the real world fighting real bad guys with real victims and with adult level violence. Thrown in spandex superheroes and villains with superpowers with a PG-13 rating... and it goes down hill.

Garth Ennis: "It's hard, it would be hard to do a story a story like the one I did with Nick Fury and have Spider-Man show up in the middle of it, it would instantly destroy the story, it just remove all creditable."

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#30 Posted by westy206 (1073 posts) - - Show Bio

@lsrotj: do you not think Punisher in the 616 works then as their are heroes?

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#31 Posted by SaintWildcard (21957 posts) - - Show Bio

@saint_wildcard said:

These guys were great and deserve more work. Hopefully DC snags them first :P. But I can't think of which DC character for them to direct ..... maybe a Deathstroke movie

Deathstroke is a Teen Titans villain, and he has done nothing to warrant his own film.

It's basically a Suicide Squad but with just one guy. Don't see a problem really.

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#32 Posted by CaptainMarvel4Ever (9890 posts) - - Show Bio

@saint_wildcard: I do, the character was not designed to hold a real story on his own.

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#35 Posted by kalorama (252 posts) - - Show Bio

@redbird3rdboywonder: I'm with you on that. I think that the 2004 movie is a ton of fun. I thought that War Zone was terrible though.

I doubt that after Punisher (2004) and Punisher: War Zone did so poorly Marvel will be willing to put up the money for a Punisher movie. Besides, the character really isn't suited to the kind of blockbuster stories they're telling with the movies these days.

However, if the grittier Netflix shows do well I could see Frank Castle fitting in well with that corner of the MCU.

I thought both Punisher movies were bad, with War Zone being flat-out atrocious. Other than that, though, I agree with you. Punisher isn't really suited as a lead character on the big screen. He's much better used as a supporting character, in an "enemy of my enemy is my quasi-ally" role.

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#36 Edited by kalorama (252 posts) - - Show Bio

Frank Grillo should play as Punisher. He was awesome in The Purge: Anarchy. Unfortunately, he's playing Crossbones.

If they're going to bring Punisher into the MCU, the guy to ply him is Karl Urban.

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#37 Posted by MonsterStomp (36982 posts) - - Show Bio

@k4tzm4n said:

@tommythehitman said:

....where was the Punisher Easter egg in Cap 2?

It's during the car chase with Nick Fury. A truck hits the cars chasing Fury twice, and according to Joe Russo, the driver is "very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He's got a plan and a very specific skill set." Everyone began to speculate he's talking about Frank Castle, so that's why I said there might be one in the movie.

I totally missed that.

Lol. Everyone would have missed that.

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#38 Posted by ComicStooge (22063 posts) - - Show Bio

@lsrotj said:

The Punisher next to superheroes and villains... no thanks. He doesn't belong in that type of world where characters wear tight brightly color leather cat-suits. The Punisher is not a super solider, nor should he be shown as one. There would be no real reason for him to even be there, Frank Castle is just a normal person with no super powers or abilities, he's not super fast or strong, nor does he have incredible eye where he can shoot everything he sees. Sorry, but he wouldn't be able to bring or provided anything to a team in a MCU. You could just easily replace him with a nameless agent or soldier and not much would be loss.

One of the main reasons why Dirty Laundry worked so well is because it's set in the real world fighting real bad guys with real victims and with adult level violence. Thrown in spandex superheroes and villains with superpowers with a PG-13 rating... and it goes down hill.

Garth Ennis: "It's hard, it would be hard to do a story a story like the one I did with Nick Fury and have Spider-Man show up in the middle of it, it would instantly destroy the story, it just remove all creditable."

Ignoring the fact that Garth Ennis had an irrational hatred for superheroes, that statement is just plain wrong. Read Rucka's work.

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#39 Edited by ComicStooge (22063 posts) - - Show Bio

Honestly, I'd love a Punisher movie directed by John Woo. He might need to tone down the Gun-fu a little, but it could still work.

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#40 Posted by sparty-dbq (967 posts) - - Show Bio

I saw John Wick the other night and it was fantastic. So much fun. And yes, he basically is The Punisher in a lot of respects, except the motivation is so much funnier. I love that he's spending the movie avenging his dog. They didn't even need to add all those extra layers about what the dog represents to him, I'd have been happy with just "hitman lays waste to Russian mob outfit because they killed his dog."

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#41 Edited by kennybaese (1241 posts) - - Show Bio

@lsrotj said:

The Punisher next to superheroes and villains... no thanks. He doesn't belong in that type of world where characters wear tight brightly color leather cat-suits. The Punisher is not a super solider, nor should he be shown as one. There would be no real reason for him to even be there, Frank Castle is just a normal person with no super powers or abilities, he's not super fast or strong, nor does he have incredible eye where he can shoot everything he sees. Sorry, but he wouldn't be able to bring or provided anything to a team in a MCU. You could just easily replace him with a nameless agent or soldier and not much would be loss.

One of the main reasons why Dirty Laundry worked so well is because it's set in the real world fighting real bad guys with real victims and with adult level violence. Thrown in spandex superheroes and villains with superpowers with a PG-13 rating... and it goes down hill.

Garth Ennis: "It's hard, it would be hard to do a story a story like the one I did with Nick Fury and have Spider-Man show up in the middle of it, it would instantly destroy the story, it just remove all creditable."

Ignoring the fact that Garth Ennis had an irrational hatred for superheroes, that statement is just plain wrong. Read Rucka's work.

I'm with you there. Garth Ennis reaches Alan Moore levels of obnoxious when it comes to hating superheroes. I personally think that Frank Castle is more interesting in a world with superheroes because he's such a fish out of water in a world like that.

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#42 Posted by The_Titan_Lord (9502 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting

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