Marvel Once Considered Rob Zombie to Direct a ‘Punisher’ Movie Sequel
While Rob Zombie has put his stamp on the Halloween movie franchise and is currently gearing up for a Munsters film, the rocker-turned-director was almost attached to another film franchise, The Punisher. As fans know, the Marvel Comics character has been portrayed by multiple actors over the last two decades, but actor Thomas Jane, star of the 2004 action film about the vigilante, says that he was initially involved with a sequel that at one point had Rob Zombie under consideration to direct.
The actor was appearing at the Fanboy Expo convention in Knoxville, Tennessee when he revealed that he had pitched an idea for a sequel that had several names linked as possibilities to direct, including Zombie's.
As tends to happen with film projects, there are often multiple names considered for various roles from acting to directing and it appears that Jane, who had held the lead role in the first film, was heavily involved with the proposed sequel and what was going on behind the scenes to get it made.
"There were a couple of iterations of Punisher 2," stated Jane (per MovieWeb). "One of them was with Rob Zombie directing, which I thought would have been interesting. But that was one iteration. We were batting around script ideas and trying to find a new director. The Marvel folks wanted to go with a different director, and that was their choice, so it was like, 'Who is that person going to be?'"
At the time, Zombie was still in the early stages of his directing career with only House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects on his resume. But eventually, Jane felt they had found their guy with director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs) attached to the project.
Jane gave his approval, but according to actor, the studio said no to Hill and wanted yet another director. "They floated another director who hadn't really done anything in that ballpark, and so that's when I had to pull out," the actor revealed. "I had to say, 'Listen, I'm not sure if you guys really understand what it is you're doing. Therefore, the chances of fucking this up are pretty high.'"
So instead of a sequel with Jane back in the titular role of the Punisher, a new movie titled Punisher: War Zone with Ray Stevenson as the lead in 2008 became the next installment for the character. The film didn't necessarily connect at the box office or with critics and the character didn't return again until becoming part of the universe of Netflix's Daredevil series. Jon Bernthal, who played the character in Daredevil, then reprised the role as Netflix launched a Punisher spinoff series in 2017.
Given The Punisher's dark and violent tone, it's interesting to consider what Zombie could have done if given the chance to have overseen the Jane idea for the sequel. But ultimately the project was not to be and Zombie was next attached to making a Halloween update.