'Punisher 2' scribe has life threatened over film

by Paul William Tenny

You could see this coming from a hundred miles away -- one of the writers working on the next Punisher flick has opted to take his name out of the hat, come credit arbitration time, to totally disassociate himself from the film. That's an exceptionally bad sign, as if this film actually needed more of them, that it's going to be a true junker that won't even come close to making a profit in the theaters.

I wouldn't bother with repeating something like this normally, since I don't think it's all that out of the ordinary for doomed projects to have a merry-go-around of writers that each in their own way are going to be unhappy about what's going on. Some will genuinely care about the project and be pissed to see it being pissed away by people who don't know their role, some will have egos bruised that their brand of awesome wasn't quite awesome enough, etc, and the line of bodies run over and cold that trails behind just goes on forever.

What I think makes this stand out are that fans of the comic are venting their frustration with how the property has been handled on this one lone guy who is, as a writer, the low man on the pole, rather than all the morons at the top who are running this production with dice and a magic eight ball rather than talent and genuine interest. That, and by having his name taken off the rolls, this guy is actually costing himself money. What you get paid to a certain degree in films is determined by what your credit is, and he wants no credit at all.

I took my name off the movie for a few reasons. The obvious reason is because I didn't deserve credit. There was very little of my draft that stayed in the shooting script. The one big one they kept, was the set piece where we see how Russo becomes Jigsaw. It's pretty brutal. Glad they kept that.

The other reason I removed my name is because I didn't want credit. My pitch, my vision, for the Punisher franchise was something much different. I tried to rip Frank Castle from the comic book world and place him in the real streets of NYC. Castle is the only superhero without powers. He's a tortured, highly skilled soldier with a really bad anger problem. I always felt we should see Frank in some place uber-real and gritty. I threw away the first draft written by Nick Santora and did a page one rewrite. I changed the locations, the characters, the story. I dropped Frank in a real New York City with real villians, real cops, real relationships. To me, the Punisher deserved more than the usual comic book redress. It shouldn't just follow the feature superhero formula.

Apparently, I was the only one who shared that vision.

There are some things you can't dismiss as subjective disagreement, like good story structure and character development, but otherwise speaking this isn't a real big shock here. I'm sure Nick Santora is as sore about all of this as Kurt Sutter (they guy I'm talking about) is. I mean if you really care to know, I think the entire deal is one big sham that is going to fail no matter who you get to write it, because the approach is all wrong. Writers are not gum that can be spat out and replaced when they don't taste good anymore. If you do that, then chances are you aren't going to know what actually constitutes real writing talent, and you'll never find a good replacement.

That said, blaming a single writer who, as Sutter has clearly explained is no responsible for any of this or what will result from it, is equally as stupid as expecting a good script to come from a writer that was picked by a moron who wouldn't know a good writer from..well, me. Might as well throw me in there for all the good it will do, or even that guy who left a comment on a months-old post of mine this morning that simply said "shut up." At least that guy knows what he wants.

What's worse though isn't that the adolescent fanboys aren't just blaming this guy for the films troubles, they are actually threatening his life. How stupid do you have to be to threaten a life over a fucking movie? Kind of makes you wonder, you see these seemingly random shootings on TV on what seems like a weekly basis now, what if the next mentally ill about-to-be-murderer is one of these keyboard jockies? In the world we live in, it's hard to take that kind of crap in stride.

As if it couldn't be any more heinous, and I guess it would make sense that people dumb enough to send traceable threats online would also be dumb enough to not understand how movie production works. I do not hold myself up as a walking encyclopedia of film and TV, but I know enough to not instantly blame writers for everything that happens to bother Joe Blow today.

Chances are that most of what bothers you in a movie was not the result of what the writer wanted, but interference from directors, producers, actors, studio execs, and probably other writers brought in to "fix" all the imaginary "broken" and "stupid" stuff the original writer had done in the first place. Things that are so desperately bad, mind you, that the studio paid the original writer a small fortune for it in the first place.

It's not Kurt Sutter's fault that the first movie sucked, they had nothing to do with it. It's not their fault that one of these script versions was so terrible that it made Thomas Jane and John Stahl both walk away. It may or may not be Sutter's fault that his draft wasn't good enough that it got rewritten. It's certainly no longer his problem since they showed him the door.

If anything, fans of the character and comics should be respectful and admire Sutter for putting in his best effort, only to pass up the production bonus he'd probably have gotten for leaving his name on one of the drafts. It takes a great deal of integrity to do something like that, which is a hell of a lot more than you could say for these pukes who are threatening his life over a freaking movie.

While I realize that fans take these things far too seriously on a regular basis, there is no excuse whatsoever for threatening someones life. You simply cannot be much more pathetic than that, and sadly is moving beyond the already retarded realm of the fanboy, firmly into the clutches of full-blown, worthless shit head. And criminal, for the unaware -- the act of threating someone via any medium is a crime all by itself.

So all the fanboys threating to bomb this guys car -- when they are in all likelihood far too stupid to know how to actually build any time of explosive -- need to shut the hell up and get a life. I know, that's kind of ironic coming from a blogger, but this is really just beyond the pale.
in Film, Legal


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