PUNISHER MAX FanCast and Fan Fic Intro
After three failed Punisher films Nero takes a shot at Punisher, MAX style.
I’m a hardcore Ennis/Max Punisher adherent. So I see the Punisher’s roots as being completely inseparable from his origins in Vietnam; there was a moral ambiguity to that war that marred it in the psyche of this country and in the minds of the men who fought in it like my uncles. I don’t think there is another period of American history that could have borne such a character as Frank Castle.
This adherence to a specific timeline can have benefits and faults when transitioning Punisher properly to film. For one thing in Ennis’ run it makes Frank a man of sixty, this adds gravitas to the character, but also makes his current adventures more unbelievable in that a man of that age could really survive his nightly activities and I think average movie goers would have a hard time with it.
This problem offers an interesting solution though, as anyone who visited or lived in NYC in the time period between the late sixties to mid nineties could tell you NYC today is Disney Land compare to how it used to be. The reality is a character like the Punisher would have a hard time finding the level of prey to keep things interesting in modern day NYC, and you can’t move Frank to somewhere like Detroit, he is a creature of NYC.
So what’s the solution to the age and urban renewal problem? I really think to make a good gritty Punisher featuring a man in his late thirties/early forties in a crime ridden city with enough filth to warrant his presence the film should be a period piece set in New York circa 1978-1983 when NYC was the crime capital of the world, the DA’s office hadn’t cleaned out the mob or the police department for that matter and you could buy a 12 year old hooker in the middle of time square at noon on a Monday while surrounded by porno theaters and peep shows. Think I exaggerate? Ask anyone old enough to know the town at that time. Like I said today’s NY is Disneyland compared yesteryear.
That would be the NYC that Frank would know best, the NYC where he fit best. You’d just have to go to Detroit to film it.
As for characters:
I've read Punisher with and without Micro, I prefer Frank without him. Micro was designed to serve as a conscience for Frank; Frank doesn’t need one. To do what he does I have a hard time believing he’d keep a guy around who had perpetually cold feet about the mission he set himself to. Frank protects and even has a soft spot for women and children, but he will kill at the drop of a hat once someone crosses that line he has drawn in his mind.
That was the whole reason that Ennis had Frank blow Micros head off in the first story of the Max run, to point out that he has really removed himself from humanity or the need of conscience. The man could kill his best and only friend without hesitation once he crossed that line. That set Ennis’ version as the definitive version of Frank Castle to me.
He is a man removed, and a man consumed. He has no illusions as to why he does it. It’s not for his family, though they were the last straw, it was the breaking of a man in the jungles of Vietnam. It was when a good man found that there was a darkness inside him; he enjoyed the fight, he liked the killing, he had honor, he had a code, but to say he does what he does solely out of vengeance is wrong. Frank does what he does because at his core he too is a sociopath and he knows it; that is why there is no deep soul searching for Frank… He knows what he’ll find there. A dead, hard core that has sloughed off the need to even be human, he has become death, he has made a deal with death, he punishes these men because he hates them. Ennis wrote it best Frank was always the Punisher. His family was just his last chance to turn down another path.
I see a Punisher film devoid of campiness, of super villain wannabes, of deep self introspection beyond the monotone of Frank’s sparse and practical narration, I see a movie where the fighting is purely reality based and grounded in military tactics turned against a men high of the power of a gun and no conscience to tell them no. I want to see a bleak landscape where the hero knows he’s not making a damn bit of difference; just bailing against the tide. He does it because on some sick level he needs it. Punisher is one of my favorite characters, because there is so much more that can be read into him.
The level of violence in War Zone was better, as I believe that the Punisher is inherently violent and the results of his actions should not be sanitized. However, the camp factor and outright ignorance Lexi Alexander displayed insulted me. I want there to be stark realistic violence in Punisher, violence that makes you feel uncomfortable in its brutality and finality not cheer that someone got their face blown off. A History of Violence was the best film I've seen in recent years to capture what I mean. I saw AHV in theaters and during the dinner robbery people cheered for Vigo up until that final shot took of the robbers jaw... Then silence. No one expected something that brutal presented in a distinctly nonhollywood way. It was harsh. It was brutal. It was overkill. It was ugly. It slapped the audience in the face as if to say, "This isn't funny," Punisher needs that: violence unstylized; ugly and graphic and real.
Punisher could be a huge hit I am convinced of that, he just needs a director and screen writer that understands him and understands what he represents in all it disturbing connotations. And most of all he needs a studio that has the balls to turn lose the leash and be willing to accept controversy. Because if done right the movie will delve into the depths of a very dark mind, a mind that, frighteningly, a lot more of us identify with than we would like to admit.
The story I envision would be an a amalgamation of Ennis’ “In the Beginning and Up is Down Black is White” encompassing mostly the arch surrounding Nicky Cavella as the principal bad guy. The CIA and O’Brien portions could be used later and preserved mostly in their entirety.
Frank Castle aka The Punisher:
Javier Bardem caught my attention in "No Country for Old Men" when he played the uncompromising hitman Anton Chigurh. Bardem can lend a quiet anger to his characters that is perfect for Frank, in addition his weathered appearance and staring dark eyes. He is also gifted with a voice that would lend itself perfectly to the voiceover narration of Punisher's War Journel. A great actor and a great physical match for Frank Castle.
This is kind of a cheat and Micro is not even a character I would use in the first Punisher film, but in strict adherence to the feel of the Ennis run I’d have to go with Franz. After all he was the visual basis used for the character in Ennis’ first Max run “In the Beginning.” Besides, no one knew what the hell a microchip was in 1982.
Nicky Cavella: Viggo Mortensen
Nicky is a tough one, a truly deranged guy, twisted and damaged in many ways. Handsome, and charming, but utterly sociopathic a man made a monster by a childhood so screwed up that one wonders how he can even function.
Pittsy: Joe Pesci
There’s really only one choice for Pittsy and now that Pesci has emerged from retirement at the correct age to play this senior psychopath. In a way Pittsy is the worst of the characters Pesci mastered in Goodfellas and Casino, think of it as a chance at some near self parody. Pittsy is a frightening explosive little guy and no one does that better than Joe.
Ink: Steve Buscimi
Ink was drawn as an amalgam of Christopher Walken and Buscimi, I like Buscimi for his shear oddity and the chance to see him play a silent character in contrast to his motor mouth persona. The return of Donny as it were, or at least his evil lazy-eyed brother.
Larry Barrucci: Alfred Molina
The terminally over his head New York Captain by default who summons Cavella home from exile in Boston. A character like this can quickly become annoying as being the weak willed guy constantly wondering what he has gotten himself into. Molina has the strength of talent to make you feel for Larry, but not wish for his eventual death.
Detective Martin Soap: Paul Rudd
My version of Soap is not directly played for laughs or as comic relief. He is a good cop, just burned out, who sees Frank as a necessary evil. He serves as the sole member of the Punisher task Force and has long since turned informant for Frank, supplying him with needed criminal wrap sheets containing known associates and haunts. He is more or less the official body counter of all Frank’s crime scenes. His character fills the role left by the absence of Micro.
Commissioner Sellers: Kurtwood Smith
Soap’s embattled boss who comes under the most pressure as Punisher runs rampant after Cavella’s sacrilege.
Auntie Mo: Kirstie Alley
The creator of Nicky Cavella. I don’t know what scares me most the fact that I’m even casting her, or the fact that she’d have to have a fairly graphic sex scene. Bluugh.
Big Jackie: John Turturro
Small role in the Fic, but it will need a good actor, perfect cameo.
Don Massimo Cesare: Abe Vigoda
Who else can you see as a 100 year old mafia boss?
Don Donny 0Cesare: Vincent Pastore