Exclusive: Kurt Sutter talks his unused Punisher: War Zone script
Many may not know this, but Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter nearly wrote a Marvel film, namely 2008’s Punisher: War Zone. Apparently, the acclaimed writer was brought in by the studio to write a sequel to 2004’s The Punisher, i.e. the one with Thomas Jane. Sutter did as he was told and wrote a decidedly different script that took a lot of liberties with the Punisher character and the studio politely showed him the door, choosing instead to develop the film that would become 2008’s Punisher: War Zone.
“It was a really interesting process and I had never worked with Marvel before,” Sutter explained during a recent Q&A with ComingSoon.net about his role in Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking. “And you know, I think in my draft of the movie, I ultimately took too many liberties in fucking with the IP — and it was a rewrite. I was not asked to do all that much. I just saw the story in a different way. So ultimately, I wrote the script and they were like, we didn’t want this.”
However, one facet of Sutter’s script remained in the final film: the creation of the film’s villain, Jigsaw (played by Dominic West), who endures a ghastly transformation by way of glass grinder — a gruesome scene that has lived on as one of the better villain origins in recent memory and helped pave the way for the film’s current cult status.
“But, one of the things I felt I got to do was bring a level of reality to it,” Sutter continued. “I felt like I was able to sort of ground Frank [Castle] a little bit more in the world as I knew it. And the result of that was the recycling plant. And so, yeah, I think that and like, maybe a couple of pieces of dialogue and one other story turn were the remnants of my draft.”
In all honesty, a Punisher film written by Kurt Sutter sounds amazing. And while Punisher: War Zone has its merits, including a hella ton of gory violence, the film never transcends its comic book roots and remains a curious blotch on Marvel’s otherwise shiny belt of success. The film was blasted by critics and made a meager $10 million against a $35 million budget — far less than 2004’s The Punisher, which collected a respectable $54.7 million upon its release.
Kurt Sutter can currently be seen in Chaos Walking, which is now playing in theaters everywhere!