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The Rob Zombie-Directed Punisher Sequel We'll Never Get To See

Nowadays, it seems like there aren't many major comic book characters left who haven't been already brought to life in live-action form at some point or another. Despite that, there are only a few Marvel or DC heroes who have amassed quite as interesting of a screen history as Frank Castle AKA The Punisher. The iconic Marvel antihero has been brought to life by several different actors over the years, including Dolph Lundgren, who played Castle in 1989's "The Punisher." Lundgren's turn as the character was followed up over a decade later when Thomas Jane played The Punisher in 2004. 

Notably, Jane's tenure as the character later came to an end when Ray Stevenson debuted as Castle in 2008's "Punisher: War Zone." Now, Jon Bernthal is the most recent actor to play the character. He first appeared as Castle in the second season of Marvel and Netflix's "Daredevil" and went on to reprise the role in two seasons of "The Punisher," which were released on Netflix in 2017 and 2019. All of which is to say that there's no denying that comic book fans have gotten to see many different live-action interpretations of Frank Castle over the years. 

However, there have still been multiple films and TV shows about The Punisher that have, for various different reasons, fallen apart behind the scenes, including one that would have been directed by none other than Rob Zombie.

Rob Zombie almost directed Thomas Jane's scrapped Punisher sequel

During a recent appearance at Fanboy Expo Knoxville, Thomas Jane talked about playing Frank Castle and, in specific, the various versions of a sequel to 2004's "The Punisher" that ended up getting scrapped or abandoned. It turns out that one version, in particular, would have been helmed by "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" director Rob Zombie.

"There were a couple of iterations of 'Punisher 2,'" Jane said. "One of them was with Rob Zombie directing, which I thought would have been interesting." The actor went on to reveal that the executives in control of his "Punisher" sequel ultimately decided that they didn't want Zombie to direct the film. "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," Jane recalled.

Given his tendency to make intensely visceral and brutal films, Zombie seems like the kind of filmmaker who could have made a truly violent and gory sequel to "The Punisher." However, it sounds like his involvement in the project was relatively short-lived. In fact, according to Jane, there were several directors who became involved in his "Punisher" sequel during its development phase, including "The Driver" and "48 Hrs." filmmaker Walter Hill. Ultimately, though, not even Hill was talented enough to impress the project's producers. "They ended up saying no to Walter Hill for reasons that are beyond my ability to comprehend," Jane said.

Unfortunately, as Marvel fans are already aware, Jane's eventual departure from the project ended up becoming the real reason why we never got to see "The Punisher 2." Now, over a decade after Jane was replaced by Ray Stevenson, comic book fans are still waiting to find out what plans, if any, Marvel Studios has for Jon Bernthal's iteration of The Punisher.