Since 1989 Hollywood has produced and released three separate films based on Marvel Comics’ Punisher character. Though each of those films has its own bright spots, you’d find little argument that they are each objectively bad movies. As much as we like Dolph Lundgren, the 1989 Punisher film he starred in played too fast and loose with the character’s established mythology — no skull shirt? no thank you! — and was very noticeably produced on a shoestring budget. The 2004 Thomas Jane version had a far more respectable budget, but skewed a bit too sunny for a character whose existence is defined by his unending hunger for bloody vigilante justice. 2008’s Punisher: War Zone had the opposite problem: It attempted to capture the character’s brutal nature and the violent, dark world he inhabits, but went a bit too far with that. The end result is a movie that’s so self-serious as to be comical.
So, Hollywood doesn’t have a great track record with the Punisher. C’est la vie. At the very least we still have dedicated, talented fans capable of doing the character justice in their own homemade DIY projects. Projects like the short film you see embedded below.
According to the lovely folk over at io9, this vignette is the work of animator Luis Pelayo Junquera. As Junquera is obviously a massive fan of the Punisher, he decided to immortalize one of the character’s most beloved stories, and as long-time Punisher fans will tell you, there are few tales in the character’s history more beloved than those created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. To be specific, this cartoon is based on “Do Not Fall In New York City,” a Punisher story first published in 2002 that depicts … well, you should probably just watch the thing to see what it’s all about. Junquera’s animation skills do a far better job of explaining the plot than we could with mere words.
Oh, but before you hit “play” on the clip below, you should probably make sure you aren’t at work or in front of any impressionable children. Punisher fans are well aware of how gory, profane and morally appalling the character’s stories can get, but for the rest of you, just think of this thing as akin to an R-rated Hollywood thriller. Less than a minute after starting the short film you’ll witness spousal abuse culminating in a murder, so it seems wise to describe this thing as “Not Safe For Work.”
Despite our excitement over this vignette, we’ll be the first to admit that it’s far from perfect. Though we appreciate Junquera’s creative animation style, his art must be necessarily compared to that created by Steve Dillon for the original “Do Not Fall In New York City” comic book, and in that case it’s found very lacking. Likewise, the voice over work in Junquera’s film is a bit spotty at times. However, these flaws with the film only make it more impressive that a single amateur could more accurately capture a moving picture version of The Punisher than Hollywood has been able to do in its three attempts to date.
Supposedly there’s another Punisher movie scheduled for release in 2014, and with Marvel Studios focused on making movies based on Marvel characters as excellent and reverent of their source material as possible we might finally see a quality adaptation of the character on the silver screen. Until that time though, this 7 and a half minute fan film is the pinnacle of the Punisher’s cinematic adventures.