Even if you’ve read every back issue of Frank Castle’s vigilante missions, these nuggets about the production of his Hollywood adventures will surprise you.
1. The Punisher had previously graced the big screen.
The Marvel character was first adapted for film in 1989 with actor Dolph Lundgren in the starring role. That movie, also called The Punisher, went straight-to-video without a theatrical release in the United States.
2. The Punisher was originally an adversary for Spider-Man.
The Punisher first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 in 1974. He wouldn’t get his own stand-alone comic until a limited run five-issue series in 1986.
3. The film was grounded in specific comic storylines.
The 2004 adaptation of The Punisher was primarily based on two Marvel comic book series: “The Punisher: Year One” and “Welcome Back, Frank.”
4. Frank Castle had to move for the film.
In the original comic book, Frank Castle’s family was murdered by the Mob in New York’s Central Park, not by a money-laundering kingpin in Tampa, as seen in the film adaptation.
5. The Punisher was nearly an Iraq War vet.
The movie was originally supposed to open with a scene of Frank and his later partner, Agent Jimmy Weeks, fighting in Delta Force in the invasion of Kuwait during the First Iraq War, but the scene was cut for budgetary reasons.
6. Thomas Jane didn’t want to be the Punisher.
Jane had never read The Punisher comics before taking the role of Frank Castle and initially turned the part down because he didn’t like superheroes. What ultimately attracted the actor to the role was that the Punisher was a superhero without any super powers.
7. Thomas Jane could give the Punisher a run for his money.
The actor did 90 percent of his own stunt work on The Punisher .
8. None of the stunts were enhanced by CGI.
Stunt coordinator and second unit director Gary Hymes had to pull off the stunts with practical effects due to the film’s relatively low $30 million budget and limited 50-day shooting schedule. Because of these restrictions, every single stunt had to be meticulously storyboarded.
9. Jane trained like the Punisher.
To prepare for the role of Frank Castle, Jane endured a six-month regimen that included up to four hours of weightlifting and cardio per day. He added 35 pounds of muscle for the part. He also participated in tactical weapons training with a former California police officer and SWAT team member and received brief training in a combination of Japanese, Israeli, and Filipino martial arts.
10. John Travolta had a Roman influence.
He modeled the Howard Saint character on Roman emperors.
11. The film gave the Punisher’s outfit its origins.
The backstory about the Punisher getting his iconic skull shirt is never explained in the comics, and the movie’s plot points about the graphic allegedly warding off evil spirits were invented entirely by director Jonathan Hensleigh.
12. Castle’s tropical resort was a little more humble.
The Castle family compound in Puerto Rico was actually two public bathroom structures on a public beach in Tampa, Florida that the production spruced up to look like houses and cabanas.
13. Saint’s nightclub wasn’t too swinging, either.
The “Saints & Sinners” nightclub exterior was actually a bank located in downtown Tampa.
14. Wrestling fans will recognize The Russian.
Longtime grappler Kevin Nash portrayed the giant assassin.
15. Frank Castle’s wife has also battled the X-Men.
The Punisher isn’t the only movie based on a Marvel comic to feature actress Rebecca Romijn. She also portrays the shape-shifting mutant Mystique in four X-Men movies.