Five Things I Learned While Listening to Lexi Alexander Talk ‘Punisher: War Zone’ with Paul Scheer and Patton Oswalt

ON‘s latest “How Did This Get Made?” with Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, Patton Oswalt and guest Lexi Alexander is phenomenal as they discuss Alexander’s 2008 Marvel comic adaptation Punisher: War Zone, a film I loathed, but nevertheless this is an amazing conversation, especially since everyone in the room loved it.

Alexander discusses how the holiday season release didn’t help it at all, how she initially didn’t want to direct the film, how Rounders helmer, John Dahl, was offered the project but he wanted too much money and how she actually was hoping to direct Wanted. But on top of all that there is so much more to hear.

I have included four choice pieces of information I pulled from the 60-minnute conversation below to give you an idea of what to expect, though the joy in the room while the conversation is going on just can’t be duplicated.

On Her First Meeting With Lionsgate (which didn’t take place):

“The meeting is set the day after that Virginia Tech guy goes and shoots a million people. Not only that, I happen to watch the one newscast that showed his room, and what’s in that room? A Punisher poster. So I call my agent and his manager and I say, ‘I cannot go into this meeting.’ Because now I had prepared a whole thing about how he goes in, he kills a million people…”

It was after that meeting was canceled that John Dahl was offered the director’s chair.

On the Parkour Guys (watch the video above):

“The way that came about is I had a friend and we’re talking about how I’m doing The Punisher, and the rewrite, and the studio wanted to hire another six writers and I’m like, ‘Oh my God I can’t…’ and they’re like, ‘Look, just promise me one thing, don’t you dare cast any fucking parkour guys and put parkour guys in because everybody’s doing that.’ And there were like three movies — I think Hulk and Die Hard — and everybody had parkour guys and there was a reverse reaction and then I heard it again from somebody, ‘Just don’t put any parkour guys in there!’

“I was like, ‘What’s with this reverse reaction to them? I’m kind of liking that. What can we do?’ And I thought, ‘Let’s just blow them up!’ If people hate them so much I kind of figured…”

On the Reviews and Press Screenings:

“Lionsgate said, ‘Unlike any other movie we do of this genre, we will screen this for the critics.’ And they had simultaneous screenings for critics in New York and L.A. Now two days before I am panicking, a New York critic, now think about this… I thought I’m so screwed, I’m so screwed… I became this devil of the whole arguing directors and it was a bad choice on my part, but I wanted to fight for the movie.

“So I said, two days before, can’t we at least put a one sheet on the seat that shows that we have taken every scene, every violent scene, every action scene from the comic book and even [cinematographer Steve Gainer’s] look, he shot it beautifully the way the comic book looked. Can we at least show them so even though they don’t — they’re not comic book fans, so even though they don’t what this is they’ll understand the effort that was based on the source material. [They said,] ‘That’s a ridiculous idea, we’re not doing that.’

“So what ended up in every paper, I’ll never forget this, […] a woman in New York, I think it was the New York Times [it wasn’t], wrote this in her review, I think she wrote, ‘Lexi Alexander should go to prison for her violent imagination.’ Now, mind you, I didn’t come up with it, it was in the damn comic book. But people thought we had some sadistic jerk off session.”

Was there anything you wanted to do you weren’t allowed to?:

“I had a soundtrack on it that kind of reflected what this movie was. It wasn’t an orchestra, it was kind of ridiculous. It was good, but it was more up to what the tone of the movie was. They pulled it off, fired my composer and put one on, which I later found out the direction to this composer was ‘make it more like The Dark Knight.'”

On Her Favorite Scene in the Movie:

“My favorite scene in this movie, it’ll surprise you, but I basically had to come up with this finale and I thought, ‘Okay, now he has to kill a million people.’ So how do I kill them? And I thought, ‘There’s all these gangs in the comic book so let’s do that.’ And, I don’t know if you caught this, but when Jigsaw and Looney Bin Jim do this whole speech to recruit these gangs, that was a direct spin-off from that scene in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 when these two doofus recruiters come to the high schools.

“Because when I saw that movie I thought, ‘Okay, who listens to these doofus guys who come up and say, Sign your life it’ll be great? You may die, but…

At about the 40 minute mark they begin asking Lexi about specific scenes and more is revealed, but I don’t want to spoil it all here because it really is a great listen. I may not have enjoyed the film, but I did get what Lexi was going for and it simply wasn’t for me. I can, however, appreciate her passion as a director never wants to see their work destroyed by a studio. In fact, I find it sort of ironic this is coming out now, just after Lionsgate released Guillermo del Toro’s director’s cut of Mimic on Blu-ray after he had such a horrible time with the studio getting his vision on screen.

You can head over to and listen for yourself. If you choose to listen just be aware it does include swearing so it’s probably not safe for work speakers.

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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