Lionsgate Cutting Punisher: War Zone All The Way Down To PG-13?!
Just when we thought there couldn't be any more bad news in one week, we're hit by this stunning development. Back at Comic-Con, when the upcoming Punisher: War Zone was supposed to be getting some positive buzz, news hit that director Lexi Alexander had been cut off entirely from the film. We knew it was in bad shape when that happened, but we didn't know just how deep the roots went. Now George at Latino Review reports that an inside source close to Punisher says that the big battle that Lionsgate is having internally is whether or not to cut the film all the way down to PG-13. We saw a very similar fight happen with Fox and Live Free or Die Hard last summer. Eventually I got yelled at by our readers for complaining, but it really upset me at the time. And if anyone saw that insanely violent trailer that showed quite recently, then I'm guessing I'm not the only one upset about this idea.
While there isn't any official proof that this is the cause, George speculates that The Dark Knight is what sparked this latest battle. They're looking at that film, a stylized and dark PG-13 comic book movie that is on its way to $500 million, and assuming that they can cut Punisher down to that level, too, for a couple of extra bucks. Unfortunately, that won't work. George actually explains it best: "But this isn't Batman. This is The Punisher. The Punisher kills people. Violently." And I can nearly guarantee that less people would want to see a PG-13 Punisher movie than those who were looking forward to it based off of that violent trailer. This isn't anything that I need to explain my reasoning. Sure, I wanted John McClane to say "motherfucker," but if he didn't, no problem. But if Frank Castle doesn't violently kill excessive numbers of people, then it's not a Punisher movie!
We can argue all day about ratings and how PG-13 movies are just as good as R movies and so on, but that's not the point! What we're talking about with Punisher: War Zone is remaining faithful to the source material. Frank Castle doesn't mildly kill people in the comics. And as the director who initially had creative control, Lexi Alexander actually made a movie that was faithful to the comics (as far as we know) with extreme violence. This movie has been plagued by bad buzz since the very first day it was announced and I feel like it's doomed to flop, no matter what rating it has. I admire Lionsgate for at least trying initially to salvage a character that director Jonathan Hensleigh ruined in the first Punisher movie, but in the end, it's the execs at Lionsgate that screwing themselves over. Would anyone see a PG-13 Punisher?