What is curious about all The Punisher movies is that none of them attained critical or box office success. Yet in time, all of them gained appreciation from fans, attained a cult following, and are said to be underrated in some circles (All of them). This is in direct contrast to the Netflix TV version of The Punisher, which gained critical success the moment actor John Bernthal portrayed the character. Let’s see the watch order of Punisher movies and how many are there.
How Many Punisher Movies Are There?
There are three Punisher movies. Punisher (1989) where Frank Castle is portrayed by Dolph Lundgren. The Punisher (2004) where Frank Castle is portrayed by Thomas Jane. Punisher: War Zone (2008) where Frank Castle is portrayed by Ray Stevenson.
Since none of them are box successes, all of them are reboots that did not gain a chance to have a sequel. So all of them are unconnected with their own sense of tone. All of them are considered bad or good in their own way. The most well-received and popular live-action version of The Punisher is the Netflix TV series version, The Punisher (2017) which aired years later after the movies and is not connected to all of them.
The Punisher Movies in Order
Here are The Punisher movies in order of release:
- Punisher (1989)
- The Punisher (2004)
- Punisher War Zone (2008)
The Netflix Punisher version is technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Marvel Studios ever decide to take The Punisher to the big screen, we may potentially see half a dozen Punisher movies coming our way.
What Is the Best Way to Watch The Punisher Movies?
Given that none of The Punisher movies are in the same continuity and are in their own different worlds and tone, in what order they can be viewed is optional. It is more what kind of movie you have a mood for: If you are in the mood for an ’80s action movie, watch Punisher (1989). For an atmospheric silent action movie, watch The Punisher (2004). For an over-the-top, cartoonish, and gory movie, Punisher: War Zone (2008).
The Punisher Movies in Order by Release Date
While this is the original Punisher movie, it is also the least known, given that it did not get released in the United States because its distributor, New World was having financial problems.
What it is most known for is the casting of Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher, and for not retaining the iconic skull emblem on his chest. These two elements are what bring the movie down.
Dolph Lundren was considered a miscasting by the fans who cannot see beyond his lumbering silent persona. While the absence of the skull emblem makes Frank Castle no different from the countless vigilante action heroes at the time.
The Punisher (2004)
The 2004 version of The Punisher has a Charles Bronson-style action movie sense of atmosphere so has its fans among the people who enjoy ’60s action vigilante movies like Death Wish.
Thomas Jane portrayed The Punisher, and his portrayal was, and is, popular among the fans. Before John Bernthal took over the role, Thomas Jane was considered the definitive version of Frank Castle, seen as irreplaceable.
On the other hand, John Travolta played the gangster villain Howard Saint and received the brunt of the film’s negative reviews.
While the movie only has only a niche following, people wanted to see Thomas Jane return in the role. While a sequel never materialized, people got the next best thing when Thomas Jane returned in the role for a fan film called, Dirty Laundry (2012).
Although, its status as a fan film is questionable, given that it was made by professionals, like veteran music and film director, Phil Joanou.
Punisher War Zone (2008)
Punisher War Zone really goes all out with its r-rating with an over-the-top almost cartoonish tone in its blood and violence. Appropriately, the villain Jigsaw, played by Dominic West, chews every scene he is in with his over-the-top performance and a deformed face that can only exist in a movie this deranged.
Frank Castle is played by Ray Stevenson, known for being Volstagg in the MCU Thor films. In contrast to the movie’s cartoony tone, Ray Stevenson is the silent straight man of the movie. Although, he is responsible for most of the movie’s r-rated violence.
While it is not considered very good in a traditional sense, it has its cult following due to its cartoonish tone that allows the viewers to see this movie in a so-bad-it’s-good B-movie way.
Will There Be More Punisher Movies?
While the existing movies so far will never have sequels that will see the light of day, The Netflix TV version of The Punisher is the most popular live-action version and is technically in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios have a choice if they will make Punisher a movie franchise or a Disney+ series. If they chose it to be a movie franchise, The Punisher will surely have more movies to come.
Where to Watch Punisher Movies?
Punisher (1989) can be watched on Hulu & Netflix. The Punisher (2004) can be watched on Peacock TV, Prime Video, Apple TV, VUDU, Vudu Movie & TV Store, or Redbox. Punisher: War Zone (2008) can be streamed on Netflix. What are you waiting for?