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Three Strikes and You're Out
by The Alpha Craig

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Please welcome Frank, and then welcome him back.

Please welcome Frank, and then welcome him back.
It's the rule in baseball and it should be in regards to comic book movie adaptations. Don't get me wrong, I will go to see any, and all, movies based on comic books but that doesn't mean I immediately consider them stellar in quality. A prime example of this is the recent third attempt at rebooting the Punisher franchise. There are time s when you just want to slap the film-makers for leaving out majors chunks of the source material, leaving huge gaping holes in the continuity (especially when the formula is so franking simple - Agitated Alpha.) Allow me to explain.

The Punisher first appeared in Amazing Spiderman #129 (February 1974 making his character two years and 8 months older than me - Chronometric Craig.) His origins were quite simple. Frank Castle took his wife and children on a picnic in Central Park and witnessed a mob hit. The mob then went after Castle and his family, killing them and leaving him for dead. With his training in the military and experience in the Vietnam War he took up the mantle of The Punisher. He was your basic cut-throat "do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job done" vigilante. His first appearance had him tricked into fighting Spiderman by the sinister villain Jackal. Considered and villain/antagonist by some, but he gained a following and was soon paired up with many heroes
I must punish you.

I must punish you.
like Captain America, Nightcrawler, Daredevil and Spiderman himself. His rise in popularity gave way to a film adaptation.

The Punisher (1989 film)
This movie starred Dolph Lundgren (hot off the heels of his role as Ivan Drago in ROCKY IV and the lead role of He-Man in the movie of the same name - Anabolic Alpha) so you could have at least hoped for a good portrayal of Frank Castle/Punisher. And for the most part it was, but then they went and ignored the source material. This is adaptation Frank Castle was an NYPD officer who was assumed dead when he and his family were targets of a mob hit (not a Vietnam vet mind you which the comic book had him as and would have totally been plausible - Condescending Craig.) He retreated to the underground to become a vigilante. That wasn't even the worst part. He takes on the Yakuza, led by Lady Tanaka ( a real life Japanese gang that would never allow female membership and certainly be dressed up as Ninjas - Astounded Alpha.) Dolph didn't even wear a costume. It wasn't a bad movie, just not a good adaptation.

The Punisher (2004 film)
This movie starred Thomas Jane as a much more thoughtful and calculating Punisher. Due to the fact that this movie took place in 2004 (30 years after his first appearance -
There seems to be a

There seems to be a
Aforementioning Alpha) being a Vietnam vet is no longer believable. Making him a Gulf War vet is more contemporary and forgivable. His nemesis in this movie was Hoard Saint, portrayed well by phyco-tologist John Travolta (even though he was a bit character in the comic book - Contrary Craig.) One of Saint's son was killed in a drug bust lead by Castle so he ordered a hit to killed Castle and his entire family and a family reunion (not really a small family gathering in Central Park mind you, but it gave you all the more reason to back him and his fight for retribution - Alteration Allowing Alpha.) There was a non-speaking appearance of comic book villain The Russian portrayed excellently by Kevin Nash in which he and Jane, more or less< re-enacted the fight scene between Jaws and James Bond from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I really liked this movie but it was more cerebral and less violent than people wanted so I get why it didn't do well in theatres.

Punisher: War Zone (2008)
This movie starred Ray Stevenson as a blood-thirsty, unemotional and cold-hearted killer/vigilante. He took on too much of the "shoot first and ask questions never" mentality. They followed the comic book origins accurately (except not really explaining his military background in terms of
Pistols, pistols everywhere but not a shot to take.

Pistols, pistols everywhere but not a shot to take.
which wars he fought in, if any, but enough that you knew he was exceptionally skilled
- Content Craig.) His nemesis in this movie was Jigsaw portrayed annoyingly by Dominic West ( who in my opinion was hamming it up the entire time and really tried too hard to emulate the late Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker in DARK KNIGHT - Assertive Alpha.) You never really got any kind of depth or emotion out of Stevenson which was great for us fans who expected that, but not so much for the casual movie fan who didn't know that is how he was in the comic book. That, coupled with the lack of thought and overly brutal violent death scenes, made this come off as cheesy and more like a juvenile attempt and making a video game movie (switch around a few characters and add a designer drug called "Valkyr" and you would have a movie based on a video game ... oh wait that already happened too - Confused Craig.)

My final thought is that all three movies had elements that should be incorporated in an adaptation of The Punisher, but not one of them had all of the right ones. If you could somehow mix them all together into one move, you might have one that could bear the name PUNISHER. Thanks for reading true believers, EXCELSIOR!

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Bringing you a vast wealth of comic book movie knowledge from a 4,000 plus book collection and experience at Rain City Comics.

Other Columns
Other columns by The Alpha Craig:

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

When I'm Good, I 'm Bad.......

Hey Bub, I'm Not Through With You

With Friends Like These....

She Works For Fudge!

All Columns

The Alpha Craig
I am the first and the last, maybe not. I'm 31 years old and still spend my disposable income on comic books. Might as well put it to good use.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to The Alpha Craig by clicking here.

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