Mad Max: Fury Road star Tom Hardy left his mark on the comic book movie world when he played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. The actor was set to return to the world of DC last year when he signed on to play Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, but filming conflicts forced him to drop out and be replaced by Joel Kinnaman. Despite this setback, Hardy is eager to jump back into the world of comic book cinema, and he already has a character he wants to play: The Punisher.
In an interview with Collider, it was pointed out that Warner Bros has a "few more" superhero movies coming out. Although it’s unclear whether he is aware that Punisher is a Marvel character rather than DC, Hardy mentioned that playing Frank Castle would be appealing to him, saying:
I want The Punisher… I want The Punisher, or Splinter Cell, I want something…I don’t know what I want.
Hardy quickly mentioned afterwards that his 5’9’’ height might prevent him from playing the physically imposing character. It’s worth noting that the actor is only two inches shorter than Thomas Jane, the star of 2004’s The Punisher, though the tallest theatrical Punisher so far has been Dolph Lundgren at 6'5" (Ray Stevenson in Punisher: War Zone is 6’4"). Besides, if Wolverine can be changed from short to tall on the big screen, it stands to reason Punisher can be made slightly shorter.
After Punisher: War Zone’s failure at the box office in 2008, Marvel reacquired the film rights to the character several years later. However, there haven’t been any plans announced to give Punisher his own film in the MCU. This may be due to Disney’s hesitancy to have an R-rated film exist in that universe. Every Marvel Studios movie has been rated PG-13, and aside from some intense violence and occasional language, these films have are mostly family-friendly. An ex-military man brutally killing criminals with every weapon he can get his hands on does not fit the lighter tone of these movies.
One way around this would be to give Punisher a Netflix series. As Daredevil proved, this is an excellent venue for Marvel to tell darker, grittier superhero stories, not to mention significantly more violent tales. Daredevil Season 1 showrunner Steve DeKnight recently said that he hoped that the Man Without Fear’s solo series would convince Marvel to let Frank Castle headline his own run.
If Hardy were to sign on, though, he would need to consider the possibility that Punisher could get renewed for a second season and beyond. This wouldn’t just be a one-off performance, it could turn into a continued commitment, but considering how big the MCU has become, it might be worth Hardy’s time to get involved. Just imagine him gunning down bad guys on the mean streets of New York City or some other metropolitan area. He would certainly leave a unique imprint on this world.