Tom Hardy is no stranger to the superhero genre of films. While promoting the soon-to-be-released movie “Mad Max: Fury Road,” he revealed he has his eye on a popular superhero in the Marvel stable: The Punisher.
The 37-year-old actor, who played Bane in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” was speaking with Collider when he let it slip that he’d like to take on Marvel Comics’ most violent, enigmatic and dark character. When asked whether his recent exit from the DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures “Suicide Squad” precluded him from appearing in any of their other superhero ventures, Hardy brought up the iconic Marvel character: “I want The Punisher ... I want The Punisher or ‘Splinter Cell.’ I want something. I don’t know what I want.”
Hardy went on to joke he may not be tall enough to play Frank Castle, the former soldier turned vigilante. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, the actor falls short of Ray Stevenson, who stands 6 feet 4 inches tall, and played the character in the not-so-successful “Punisher: War Zone” in 2008.
Stevenson wasn’t the first one cast by Hollywood in its attempt to bring The Punisher to cinematic life. Before the 2008 film was the 2004 movie “The Punisher,” starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta. And in 1989, action star Dolph Lundgren took on the role in a flick with the same name.
Interestingly enough, Hardy’s comments come at a strange time for Marvel Studios and Frank Castle. Previously, the Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. owned the rights to the character and Marvel Studios had to defer to its judgment on all creative decisions. As Moviepilot noted, the rights to the character have since reverted back to Marvel. Unfortunately for Punisher fans, it has no public plan to bring the character back to life -- but never say never.
Odds are good that if Marvel were to do something with The Punisher, it wouldn’t be through a fourth film attempt. For one thing, all three previous tries flopped. For another, the character simply wouldn’t fit into the connected Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). While a healthy number of adults turned out for “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” during its opening weekend, the MCU is a family venue at its core.
For those unfamiliar with the character, The Punisher is an outcast in the Marvel superhero canon as his sense of morality doesn’t mesh with the likes of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) or Captain America (Chris Evans). The Punisher believes the only way to stop the guilty is to kill them, which may a bit too jarring for existing “Avengers” fans. In addition, Marvel has already laid out its movie plans for the next five years.
While that method of operating doesn’t fit into Marvel Studio’s film universe, it might work on TV. Marvel and Netflix recently premiered 13 episodes of its gritty street-level superhero drama, “Daredevil.” That series features not only people dying but also some pretty brutal fights and other adult content.
And, good news for Hardy, it appears he could still have a shot at playing The Punisher. Speaking to SciFiNow, “Daredevil” showrunner Steven S. DeKnight teased the involvement of “The Punisher” in a Netflix series.
“I’ve been a huge fan of ‘The Punisher’ comics for years,” DeKnight said. “I’d love to see him get his due on a platform like this. Nothing would delight me more than to see The Punisher get his own show and maybe we could convince Marvel to go Hard-R rating. If any character deserves an R rating, it’s The Punisher.”