Tom Hardy as The Punisher? Yes, Please!

This article is purely speculatory and based only on the idea of Tom Hardy being courted for playing Frank Castle. This is by no means an absolute confirmation that this is happening but rather a reaction to the notion that it could happen.

Well now, this is a promising idea.

In a recent interview, Tom Hardy was asked about what projects he would like to in the near future and his desire to play Frank Castle aka The Punisher was flirted with, to quote Hardy himself-

I want The Punisher… I want The Punisher, or Splinter Cell, I want something…I don’t know what I want...
Don't sound so confident there, Tom.

The fact of the matter is, although nothing in regards to our favourite Marvel vigilante bruiser has been confirmed this idea has already proven itself to sound appetizing to many a Punisher fan, yours truly included. Imagine if this venture went down the same route as Netflixs' masterful Daredevil? If you don't find yourself drooling just a little you have my sincere condolences and a bit of side-eye because if you ask me, that is an ideal avenue for something like that to happen.

Although it is not as permissive as HBO, Netflix still got away with genuinely shocking scenes in Daredevil, so I wouldn't presume The Punisher would be any different. Given Frankie Goes To Hollywood is hardly bluebirds and picnics, an episodic saga approach would be a breath of gun smoke-infused air.

Let me be honest with you: I didn't think any of the previous Punisher films were bad; Tom Jane's outing was perhaps my favourite by the way, but for some reason, none of them really left you with the notion that you had witnessed a definitive Punisher film, one that set a benchmark on the character. Now, the common praise that Punisher: War Zone receives is that is closely matches the Ennis rendition of the character but the film still performed poorly at the box office meanwhile the Lundgren version is... well, it's the Lundgren version.

Sorry; I had to include this beautiful Kodak moment.
However, according to the talented Russo brothers, the joint-directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, an unseen, unnamed individual cater walling around in a yellow delivery truck has a very special set of skills can be seen causing havoc during the highly kinetic Nick Fury car chase scene, seemingly inadvertently assisting Fury. Who does that sound like and what does this mean? 

Well, nobody and nothing right now. If anything is to be said about this notion it is that the Russo boys were playing around with us and not making any commitments to giving Castle another bash on the big screen so no putting eggs in baskets folks.

Who dat?

Let's just pretend that the Age of Aquarius has occurred and Party Hardy has agreed to don the tight black skull shirt. He has been locked and loaded and ready to raise Hell in a television series that runs for about 10 to 13 episodes rather than a two and a half hour long film. First things is first, as with any actor taking on a beloved role, his looks will be called into question and let me tell you, those concerns even this fictional realm will be put to bed quite quickly. Let's have a look at the man himself keeping in mind the roles he has played in the past and the ones we will be seeing him in for the future (re: Mad Max: Fury Road).

Stature: Hardy is 5'9", hardly small but not quite looming. To me this is not a problem because consider this if you will; Tom Cruise is one of the most bankable action stars today and although there is that joke that Tom Cruise runs everywhere, the fact remains that Cruise knows how to sell himself as action man. When you watch the Mission: Impossible films, more than half of the time that is Cruise you see running for his life, taking part in awe-inspiring stunts and firing those guns and the reason why he does that is because he is committed to the character that you tend to forget his smaller frame.

Hardy I feel has that same sort of commitment. Look at quite a few of his previous works in Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises and The Warrior. That is Hardy giving himself over to the role and delivering the best performance he possibly can. Additionally, if you hadn't already deciphered the pattern in those three films, boyfriend worked out heavily in order to be involved in his roles and he milked his physicality to an exhaustive degree. Height means nothing to an actor who is willing to put their all into a performance they are passionate about. Just look at Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, both rather slight of stature actors who have played some of the most frightening and intimidating characters on the big screen. As Varys from Game of Thrones confided to Tyrion: "a small man can cast a great shadow".

This is relevant.
Face: "Too pretty" you say? First, yeah, and? Secondly, did Bane look like a Hugo Boss model? How about Charles Bronson when he was throwing his shit around like a baboon in a cage and picking fights with guards and prisoners? Did Eames from Inception seem too out of his element in the dream world wielding that gorgeous grenade launcher? Could his eyes be any more beautiful? Hardy is prettier than moi but he isn't afraid to look unseemly or grotesque because the man is an actor rather a media personality. It takes a certain amount of fearlessness to approach those types of characters and Frank Castle is no exception. Although Castle doesn't so much possess a physical deformity, his mind with all of the trauma that has happened to him does and it is reflected in the punishments he doles out.

Accent: Dude. He's an actor. Hardy is more than capable of nailing a particular accent, how could anybody possibly the man can't pull off a Nu Yawk Italian timbre?

Characterization: We all know Castles' methods are incredibly extreme, he is named The Punisher after all. The man will stoop to the levels of those whom he hunts in order to see street justice achieved. Kidnapping, extortion, bribery, coercion, torture and stare into your eyes as I twist the blade in further cold-blooded murder are his flavors and he doesn't pretend what he does is pretty. He sees it as doing the ugly jobs the other heroes feel they cannot. Does he enjoy it? Well, that's somewhat left up to debate depending on the incarnation of the character and the nature of the job, but in a sense, Frank has become cold inside due to his extensive training in the military forces as well as being involved in extreme warfare. Given Castle was originally an Vietnam Veteran it should come as no surprise that Frank Castle is suffering a case of stunted emotional development after all he has seen and done.

Generally speaking, Castle is not a man proud of his work, but nonetheless thanks to his militaristic thinking, he finds it necessary and he's a ride or die fella. According to Gareth Ennis the character "sees the world in very black and white terms, he solves his problems with utter finality" and that "his response to any problem: when in doubt, hit back hard."

With further reference to the characters' general psychology, the writers took inspiration from controversial (when I say controversial, I mean it, the dude worked alongside the bloody Nazis for a time!) German philosopher Martin Heideggers' view of humanity when it is faced with a cold and nihilistic certainty: "'Since we can never hope to understand why we're here, if there's even anything to understand, the individual should choose a goal and pursue it wholeheartedly, despite the certainty of death and the meaninglessness of action."

In the eyes of Frank Castle, he cannot live without causing death. It's a tragic and fore lorn dichotomy, that's for darn sure. Do you also want to know something disturbing? There is a part of all of us that agree with what Frank does, even if we don't admit it to others or to our conscious logic.

Revenge is a universal motif in films and assorted literature that is felt by all human beings, it is not a strictly Judeo-Christian "Eye For An Eye" school of thought. If the system has failed you and you want those responsible to pay, you take it upon yourself to achieve it. However, with that sense of primal entitlement and satisfaction comes the destructive nature of revenge; when you carry it out in a terrible manner, what next? You will no longer be the person you were and after all you have done, your life ceases to be the same. You may feel empty, you may feel that you have peaked and suddenly fell from high with no clue how to get back up.

The Punisher is a ghoulishly satisfying character but his chances of full redemption are nebulous because he has traveled too far down that path that he is unable to find his way back. Deep down he is searching for a means of redemption but it is a long difficult road out of the Hell he has helped bury himself in.

Setting: Generally speaking, I don't mind when the series takes place. If they wanna hop back to the Savage Seventies that would be cool because not only would it be true to the original conception of the character but it would also be visually fascinating complete with those fashions, that music and the events that were troubling the world and its people ie. racial tensions, the Cold War, 'Nam, Pol Pot, Syria, Jonestown, the oil and energy crisis, Munich.

In addition to Franks' inner turmoil and his mission to hunt down his targets, the globe was in a state of constant tension and pressure and I feel that would reflect mightily in the show. However, I feel a strong case could also be made to transport Castle into a contemporary era and yet his personal circumstances would be able to remain the same. Although Frank Castle has done some pretty bombastic stuff in the comics, for a television series, it would behoove the developers to at least keep most things on the level... though Frank Castle using enraged polar bears would be pretty frickin' sweet to see. Oh, and you absolutely must have the fossil fuel guzzling Pontiac GTO muscle car. It's practically prescribed.

Also, as a bit of a gun nut myself, I wouldn't mind seeing the show put some thought into what type of ordinance Frank would be packing at any given time. Don't look at me like that, you can't have Castle without the canons.

Story: Again, it doesn't bother me too much what they choose to do with the story as a whole, but I also wouldn't cry boo if they decided to make the series a cross-section between origin and main story. Have Castle suffer the deaths of his wife and children and inter-splice that with his hunting of the perpetrators. Establish what he will and will not do in order to get what he wants and ensure where his convictions lie.

The audience needs to understand the context of his actions and how his circumstances define his choices. I'm not one to argue with violence when it comes to The Punisher, but there needs to be a strong foundation for his actions and there also needs to be strong emphasis on how he punishes. After all, he is known as The Punisher, not The Executioner. He wants to make his prey suffer for their sins and by the time he is done with them, they are begging him to put them down. Castle may have something akin to psychopathic behaviour, but his psychosis still requires grounding. This isn't some Chuck Norris or Steven Segal shit.

Characters: Well, if this is going to include those responsible for kicking off Castle's campaign of brutality and blood-shed, we gotta include the Costa family complete with the Don. Anybody else could be say human traffickers, pedophiles, murderers, rapists, corrupt cops and the usual type of dogs who will get their day. If they deserve punishment, sic Frankie Goes To Hollywood on 'em and witness Nemesis smite.

For what so little we have right now, I am more than on board with the notion that Tom Hardy could be given the golden opportunity to play the Punisher. Given how seriously comic adaptations are taken these days and given the nature of the character we may finally be able to see a full-fledged, no-frills, pulsating, heaving, sweaty Punisher series that the character richly deserves. If it happens and if it delivers there are gonna be a lot of happier fans on the planet and maybe, just maybe, there could be some delicious cross-overs to follow.

When Matt Met Frank, perhaps?

Uh, guys?
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About The Popcorn Unicorn

Fallen Botticelli Angel/Elightened Eldritch/Lunatic Fringe
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