Here’s something unexpected that popped up online over the weekend. Thomas Jane, who as you may recall played raging Marvel Comics vigilante the Punisher in a shitty 2004 movie, has returned to the role in Dirty Laundry, an uber-violent 10-minute short film. Check it out:
Now, narratively, the thing’s a little suspect. So Jane is playing an already seasoned version of the Punisher — he’s got the t-shirts printed up and at least one has a bullet hole in it — yet it takes him one full alley rape and the torture of a little boy before he’s willing to intervene? Apparently, this is a Punisher trying his best to stay retired but just can’t help himself when one particular back-alley brigand keeps shoving his face in it. I guess? The story being told here is a little awkward.
Still, putting aside the narrative murkiness, it’s nice to see Jane back in the role. The end result of his go as the Punisher may have been a mess, but it wasn’t Jane’s fault. He’s nearly the perfect embodiment of the character, a fact Dirty Laundry helps support. Just watch Jane crack some skulls while his face remains frozen in a perpetual state of world-weariness. Yep, that’s Frank Castle all right.
You have to wonder what Marvel thinks about this. Dirty Laundry is clearly an outside job — done not for profit, but for the love of the character. It keeps things vague enough to avoid any copyright infringement but throws in enough fan service so we know exactly who Jane is playing here. Rights to the Punisher reverted back to Marvel sometime after the Jane-less Punisher: War Zone tanked in theaters, and you have to assume they’re planning their own reboot at some point. I’m not sure they’d be thrilled about Thomas Jane reminding everyone that he’s still the right guy for the part.