The Punisher is Batman for the B-movie actor set in Hollywood… everybody gets a chance to play the title role in one of the sequels. Don’t be surprised to see Michael Madsen as Punny in the direct-to-DVD movie, The Punisher 5: Everybody Gets Punished.
(Clearly, months of blogging have not improved my ability to craft a metaphor. Thank the Lords of Porky Pig you don’t need a license for this job.)
Even when Marvel Comics was mucking up the character in the 1990s, there have been three constants:
- The Punisher is descended from Sicilians.
- He is a big, chiseled brute.
- He is a bad-ass.
Pretty simple formula. Let’s see if these actors have the right, um… formula ingredients.
Appears in: The Punisher (1989)
Sicilian? Um, no… not unless everyone has started referring to his homeland of Sweden as “the football to Italy’s boot,” and forgot to tell me about it.
Big and chiseled? The Russians didn’t pump him full of steroids in Rocky 4 for ‘nuthin.
Bad-ass? Yes, Ivan Drago, the Universal Soldier, a.k.a. the original He-Man, Master of the Universe, is a bad-ass.
Appears in: The Punisher (2004)
Sicilian? According to IMDB, he’s “half Irish, a quarter Italian and a quarter German.” So, I’d say there’s enough hot blood in that melting pot to call him at least half-Sicilian.
Big and chiseled? In spite of his square jaw and the muscle bulk that he added for the role, he’s dangerously close to pretty-boy status.
Bad-ass? Um, negative. Did you see him in The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz? A group of 2nd-graders could have leveled him with nerf bats.
Appears in: Punisher War Zone (2008)
Sicilian? He was raised in northern England. So let me ask you this: Are crumpets Sicilian?
Big and chiseled? Sure.
Bad-ass? Hell-to-the-yeah! Have you not seen him as Titus Pullo in HBO’s Rome? If you haven’t, kindly return your Y chromosome… you don’t deserve it.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
Appears in: “Hey! He’s not in a Punisher movie!” Good catch, smarty-pants.
Sicilian? He was born in a suburb of Rochester called Fairport. His ancestors hail from Ireland… specifically, from the Isle of Ninny. The closest he’s ever come to Sicily was getting beat up in grade school by Sicilian kids.
Big and chiseled? Fat and doughy.
Bad-ass? Um. Two of his most memorable roles were Truman Capote and the annoying pansy in Boogie Nights. So, I’m going with… no.
1) Philip Seymour Hoffman is a chubby shadow of a real man.
2) The world hasn’t seen the perfect on-screen portrayal of Punny, yet, but Tommy Jane did a fair job, and I’m rooting for Titus Pullo.