Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

You know, I have a theory about superhero movies.

I’ve been sitting around wondering what the next ‘era’ of these films will be. I mean, we’re kind of reaching the point where we’ve seen most of what we’ve wanted to see, right? Three Batman movies, an Avengers crossover. What’s left?

Well reboot is the new thing these days. Take Amazing Spider-man for instance, which looks good, I’m thinking. I mean, hey, you never know until you go and see the thing, right? Still the movie looks moody. Like it’s got style.

I think Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have really set the new tone for superhero films and I suspect over the course of the next ten years you will see a whole series of rebooted trilogies that follow suit. Specifically? I think superhero movies are going to become…serious.

This is strange to say. Many of them had serious stories. There was a time, I think, where having fan service IN the movie--lots of little references to stuff that happened in the comics, some cool special effects and some big name actors--was enough to make a comic book movie. The movies were about entertainment more than anything else. But now?

I know this sounds obvious, but I think the ‘new school’ of superhero movies will be designed to be good movies in and of themselves. You’ll see all shreds of campiness and convulated plot design fall away. They’ll be big budget films with big names attached to them and will be shot, portrayed, and unfold at a pace that is similar to OTHER movies.

At the same time that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight pay the ultimate tribute to fans of the Batman comic, they are also designed so that anyone could get something out of them even if they had never read a Batman comic book in their LIFE. The focus was on making a good film, pointing out the themes in the comics mythology. The action and drama is focused and realistic, not over the top.

Nolan doesn’t rush to slam elements into the story. He gives it space to breathe and grow. THIS will be the new face of the superhero movie movement I believe. I suspect Amazing Spider-man will entail a lot of this design infused into it. It may be sweeter and more sensitive than Batman, but more of the story will be told through shot-to-shot choreography and more subtle characterization in realistic dialogue than campy superhero narration.

So who else could get a makeover besides Spidey?

Well I really want someone, SOMEWHERE, to make a Punisher movie worth seeing. Don’t get me wrong. I sort of like Thomas Jane’s deadpan depiction and I even think Punisher: Warzone has SOME redeeming qualities (delves deep into the comic’s characters, such as Jigsaw, Microchip, etc…). But I just that whenever someone tries to make this movie it goes wrong somehow.

I think maybe the obvious problem might be this: Punisher plays around with a lot of the same themes that Batman does. It’s about crime and the law, etc. Granted, the main character comes to a very different conclusion on what needs to be done, but maybe directors and writers have worried too much about distinguishing it from Batman. The end result is you end up with this really over-the-top film that maybe has more action than substance.

Maybe a good Punisher movie is going to feel more like Batman Begins. Sure, it’ll get crap from fanboys saying Marvel is cashing in on what DC’s already done, but I think Castle is a complex (or at least, shockingly simple) personality worth exploring in the same kind of poised, well written, well directed way. In fact, maybe Marvel is scared to make a Punisher movie that IS really good.

I mean, it’s main character is basically an advocate for the death penalty ACROSS THE BOARD. Could that be it? In the deepest recesses of the Marvel Comics management’s mind is there a reluctance to make a really, REALLY good Punisher movie? Does Marvel/Disney not want to get entagled with the kind of disturbing moral and philosophical issues embedded in a film like Boondock Saints? A guy can dream though, right?

Another thought? I think Nolan’s Batman films are a great example of my philosophy about comic book movies: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They stray here and there, but the films essentially pull from stories like Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween (just scenes and ideas, but just enough to make them feel right).

Punisher has always had the misfortune of having a moving ensemble of writers through the 80’s, only getting really grounded by Garth Ennis in the early 2000’s. Still, what about the original 1986 mini series that launched him from Spider-man into his own book? "Circle of Blood" begins with Castle locked up at Ryker’s only to have a group of very wealthy and concerned citizens called the ‘Trust’ arrange for his release.

The Trust appear willing to fund Castle’s one man war on crime. It seems too good to be true doesn’t it? The ensuing action and plot twists are part of what helped set the tone for this gritty and cutthroat comic book that has, for some reason over the years, never quite launched to stardom the way that it could. So I say go for it. I want to see a Punisher Begins film. Thoughts?