SDCC: Punisher: War Zone Panel & Trailer/Footage Online!

Superhero Hype! has made it into the soon-to-be-packed Lionsgate panel at Comic-Con and we’ll be live bloggin’ the half-hour presentation for Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone for the next half hour, so pull up a seat and refresh regularly!

Producer Gale Anne Hurd is here, as well as Julie Benz and Ray Stevenson as the new Frank Castle aka The Punisher! Lexi Alexander couldn’t be there because she just got married and was on her honeymoon… to the movie’s 1st Assistant Director!!

Hurd started out by saying, “We really want a Punisher that’s closer to the comics, and we stuck to the MAX series because we wanted a Punisher that was ruthless, violent vigilante justice.” (That got big applause.)

The movie takes place in New York City and they wanted to find an actor who could look like Frank Castle from out of the comics.

They talked a bit about why they got Lexi Alexander to direct, and it was partially because she was a martial arts champion, and Hurd raved about her first feature Green Street Hooligans. She also had experience as a stuntwoman that helped the violence be authentic and real.

Ray talked about the character and how he’s not a superhero and we had to make sure we had the proper psychological profile for Castle to give the fans what they deserve, and he feels they’ve done it. Hurd suggested that people check out HBO’s “Rome” to see Ray in action.

They just showed the world premiere of the new trailer which opens with aerial shots of New York City and gets right into the origins of Punisher’s arch-foe Jigsaw, played by Dominic West. The announcer says “Evil has many faces…Darkness has many allies…This is just the beginning. There’s only one who punishes them all.” It’s a rich fast-paced trailer that shows lots of gangs converging around Jigsaw and lots of Ray Stevenson in action, crashing through windows and shooting lots of bad guys, and we do get one shot of him facing off with Jigsaw. The last scene has the Punisher with a crossbow with a laser sight and he says “See you in hell!” and shoots it into a room full of thugs with a big explosion.

Hurd mentioned that Lexi looked at the MAX series for the visual look of the movie.

They talked about the weapons, which Ray said were all “current military tech” and he did real military training in order to be realistic with Castle’s background. Ray wanted to reflect the honesty and discipline that goes into military training that keeps soldiers alive.

Benz admitted she never read comics as a kid, and neither did Stevenson, although he said that he did a lot of jumping around as a kid in England. His first reaction was, “This is an uber-violence piece. It’s beyond violence, but the more I read it, I couldn’t put it down.”

When asked if he signed on for more Punisher, he said, “If I had my wish, it’s going to run and run. It’s up to the fanbase. If this works, we get to do it all again.”

The far-too-short panel ended with them showing a special music video of footage cut to Ramala’s “Days of Vengeance,” some of the same shots but a lot more violent pieces that wouldn’t be accepted by the MPAA in a normal trailer. One of the striking scenes we saw earlier was the Punisher standing on a table where a bunch of thugs sat and he’s holding a blowtorch. In this reel, we got to see a lot more blood splatter as people were shot in the head, punched in the face so hard their faces caved in; Jigsaw snaps one guy’s neck and another thug gets the leg of a chair through the eye. This clip reel gave a really good impression of the visual style of the movie, as it combined some black and white footage with other scenes that used bleached-out colors to look like Tim Bradstreet’s cover paintings from the comics. I’d say that visually, the movie is somewhere between “Sin City,” combined with the movies of John Woo, only a lot more violent than both. The clip reel ended with the Punisher saying ominously, “This is just the beginning.” (This music video is actually coming online and can be seen soon.)

And that was the end of the panel… way too short… not nearly enough time for questions from the audience. Hopefully, Lionsgate will do the junket in New York City, where the movie takes place, so we can talk more with Ray and Lexi and the rest of the cast.

The new trailer that was shown can now be watched in QuickTime and Flash format at!

IGN Movies has also brought online the restricted footage shown at the panel which you can watch below!

Punisher: War Zone opens on December 5, 2008.

Source: Edward Douglas