Thursday, February 14, 2008


So I've officially removed my name from credit arbitration for Punisher: Warzone. That's the process where the producers of the movie submit all the drafts and the names of the writers they feel should get credit. Then the WGA decides what writers contributed most and who deserves credit (and the cash bonuses that come with the credit). I took my name off the movie for a few reasons. The obvious reason is because I didn't deserve credit. There was very little of my draft that stayed in the shooting script. The one big one they kept, was the set piece where we see how Russo becomes Jigsaw. It's pretty brutal. Glad they kept that. The other reason I removed my name is because I didn't want credit. My pitch, my vision, for the Punisher franchise was something much different. I tried to rip Frank Castle from the comic book world and place him in the real streets of NYC. Castle is the only superhero without powers. He's a tortured, highly skilled soldier with a really bad anger problem. I always felt we should see Frank in some place uber-real and gritty. I threw away the first draft written by Nick Santora and did a page one rewrite. I changed the locations, the characters, the story. I dropped Frank in a real New York City with real villians, real cops, real relationships. To me, the Punisher deserved more than the usual comic book redress. It shouldn't just follow the feature superhero formula. Apparently, I was the only one who shared that vision. I'm not saying my draft was perfect or even good for that matter. God knows, Thomas Jane wasn't fond of it. But it was, in my opinion, a much more interesting direction for the franchise. The final script, rewritten almost completely by Holloway and Marcum was the perfect comic book formula -- simple story, very obvious dialog and the inclusion of as many characters from the anthology that a movie will allow (this is not a spoiler, all the characters were announced when they began shooting). I'm sure true fans of the Punisher comic books will enjoy this movie. It will do exactly what a comic book movie should do -- fill seats, set up a sequel. This isn't sour grapes. Writing those superhero movies is a definite skill set. Not many people do it well. But it's just not something I find all that compelling. As a writer who takes (probably too much) pride in what he puts his name on, I couldn't in good conscience lend mine to this project. It's not what I do. I wish Marvel and the producers all the success. If I had to make a wager, I say it will open huge. Be ready for Punisher 3.


giggitygiggity said...

This... is pretty shitty, to be honest. When I heard you were penning the script I figured if anybody could make a killer flick out of the Punisher, it'd be you. Reading over this post I can definitely agree with you and your vision for how the Punisher should've been handled. I'm a little dismayed that in the end your script was rewritten but... I guess mainstream films don't want something like Garth Ennis's Punisher showing up in movie theatres.

On the whole, I can appreciate this post and your honesty. I just have to shake my head over what happened to your version of the script.


Sarah Dobbs said...

Castle is the only superhero without powers.

Two things wrong with this statement:
1. Frank Castle isn't strictly a superhero. He's an antihero - or, um, a sociopath.

2. Even if he were a superhero, he wouldn't be the only one without powers. How about Misty Knight and Colleen Wing? Shang Chi? Green Arrow? Or the little-known Batman? Depending on your definition of "powers", Iron Man arguably doesn't have any, either; just some technology.

I'm not surprised you don't find writing superhero movies compelling; you're just not all that interested in comics, are you?

Anonymous said...

Dear Kurt,
I don't believe I've ever read another explanation of this sort that was more tasteful and gentlemanly than yours. You explained what needed explaining and didn't trash anyone doing it. Nice. There is an another version of the PWZ screenplay floating around, earlier than yours. I'd like to see yours as well if it's online anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Of course Frank is an antihero. A hero nonetheless. And no, I do not read comics. Never have. Probably never will. I'm also not a cop or a gangbanger, but I wrote The Shield for seven seasons. My ignorance about the comic book world was the strength of my pitch. I was fascinated by the concept of Frank Castle, then I read a majority of the anthology -- obviously not all -- and tried a different, more realistic tact. It clearly didn't work. As I said, I think Punisher fans will be very happy with this movie. But, hate if you must. I get it.

Anonymous said...

See, I don't see Frank as a hero or anti-hero. He's basically a psychopath that thinks that he has a job to do, a war to fight.

But this is what made wince when I read it;

"simple story, very obvious dialog and the inclusion of as many characters from the anthology that a movie will allow"

That's just very disheartening to hear.

Anonymous said...

The Punisher at his best has always been pretty one dimensional. I would have enjoyed a new take on the character. It's a shame we won't see it.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand the realistic approach mentality and I agree. BUT it cannot go against some of the fundamentals set by the comics. Or else it wouldn't be "The Punisher," it'll just be a movie about some really angry guy who kills bad guys.

Look at Batman Begins, it took a more realistic approach to the Batman story, but still kept the fundamentals set by the Batman comics.

And yah, I was going to say what Sarah said about the powers thing. You saying Frank Castle is the only comic character without powers was a pretty ignorant comment. I have never read a single comic in my life, and even I could have listed at least a few of the characters Sarah listed. Surely even the comic book illiterate would know about Iron Man and Batman for goodness sakes...

But anyway, I do enjoy more realistic approaches to established franchises, but it should change the story to the point that it should receive a completely different title.

mekilepo said...

i wish we could see your movie... i'm all about punisher in the real world... oh well.