The Punisher 2
Much like Ang Lee’s Hulk sequel that was morphed into The Incredible Hulk, the proposed sequel to 2004’s The Punisher began as its own movie and was then transitioned into the film we eventually got, Punisher: War Zone. Even before The Punisher was released in April of 2004, development began on the follow-up, which would see Thomas Jane return to the role of Frank Castle. Director Jonathan Hensleigh revealed that he and Jane had made a pact to continue working together after the first film as well.
At the premiere, Jane revealed not only had he signed on for the sequel and a third film, but that the villain would be famous Punisher foe, Jigsaw.
“He’s this rageful guy who had his face horribly mutilated by The Punisher,” Jane told USA Today. “He’s all stitched up back together, but his whole shredded, scarred body looks like a jigsaw.”
Even after the first film didn’t open to the box office numbers the studio expected, plans continued on the development of the sequel. Jane confirmed to us that summer that the film might shoot in South Africa or Australia for around the same budget as the first film (~$33 million).
“For me, the second one would be an exploration of the morality of what he does,” Jane said. “He’s so close to being a bad guy and does what he does cause more harm than good? Those kind of things are interesting for me. Where do you draw the line between what you’re doing being justifiable and not?”
Jane also revealed where the second film would begin and predicted the violence in the movie would upset a lot of people.
“The first one ended with him busting into that club and taking out all those people, and the second will open where the first one left off. It will just be incredibly violent and then it will just get more and more violent as the film goes on. That’s the kind of film that it should be! It’s a real take no prisoners punk rock kind of an action film, and g**ammit, it should piss a lot of people off!”
The film lingered in development hell for many more years, going through several different drafts and directors, including Hensleigh, John Dahl, and Walter Hill. Eventually Jane dropped out and wrote the following in a statement:
“What I won’t do is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don’t believe in.”
Jane would of course “reprise” the role in the 2012 “bootleg” film Dirty Laundry.