New Punisher is a reboot; Stevenson speaks

The window for reboots and remakes just keeps getting smaller.

The previous Batman franchise ended in disaster after 1997’s Batman and Robin, but only eight years later, in 2005, Batman Begins successfully presented itself as the first film in a new series that ignores all that came before it. Its sequel, The Dark Knight, is out on July 18, 2008.

Ang Lee’s ponderous, mutant-poodle-pounding Hulk movie from 2003 was spectacularly terrible. On June 13 of next year, we’re getting a total reboot/revamp called The Incredible Hulk with a new story crafted by its star, Ed Norton.

In 2004, we got a Punisher movie with one redeeming factor: Thomas Jane, whose work in the film was above and beyond the call of duty. Unfortunately, a limp script and weak direction actually made the film less engaging than the original Dolph Lundgren movie from 1989.

Back in May, Jane announced that he wouldn’t come back for the sequel (after three years of training and fighting for the character’s fans to make the best Punisher movie possible) because, as he said at the time, “Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves.”

This was followed by whispers in June that Ray Stevenson from HBO’s Rome had been cast as the new Frank Castle, aka The Punisher.

Now Variety reports that Stevenson’s movie is a total reboot even though it’s going into production only three years after the film it’s revamping (and ignoring).

It’s reportedly going to be called The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank, which is the title of a popular run from the Punisher comic books.

But isn’t that kind of confusing? People will hear the “Welcome Back” part and think they’re welcoming back Thomas Jane, when in reality the film totally ignores the other movie entirely and is, for all intents and purposes, the “first” Punisher movie.

The mind boggles.

Regardless, the movie goes into production in September in Montreal under director Lexi Alexander, a beautiful female kick-boxing champion who’ll undoubtedly bring some fresh action to the proceedings.

And as confusing as these revamps can be, I’m also very happy that comic book companies and movie studios are trying to take responsibility for the awful movies they’ve made in the past by moving forward with new versions that stay truer to the characters and the fans.

Meanwhile, Superhero Hype reports right here that one of their message board members got the following email from Ray Stevenson (via Stevenson’s official website):

Although i am still very much in the embrionic stages of developing and discovering FRANK CASTLE’s character; what i can say about my approach so far is that I dont wish for anyone to walk out of the theatre wanting to ‘be’ FRANK CASTLE – Let me explain, I would be mortified if, for any reason, some kid at high school wanted to reach out and right the wrongs of bullying or rejection or isolation by deciding to “tool up” and take out the bad guys ! It is my full intention to have FRANK in such a dark place and do such violence on those beyond redemption that you should feel glad that there is someone who lives in the dark so we may live in the light. (and you cant wait to see what hell he brings to those targeted by him) My training program is the most comprehensive i have ever undertaken and hopefully we will bring all his skills to bear – and then some! Sorry it is a bit sketchy at this stage but we are driving forward and will stay true to the essence of THE PUNISHER!

And then Stevenson said, “I want to have grown-up fun! Spoon and figgy pudding, rabbit down dum druggery’s hollow! I want to have pop-pop!”

Okay, he didn’t really say that last part.

Anyway, it’s currently slated to come out sometime in 2008, joining The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine in the year’s crowded comics-to-film category.

What do we have to do to get a reboot of Superman after Bryan Singer turned him into a deadbeat dad who forgot what responsibility and accountability mean?