Fox has bought an hour-long drama from ABC Studios based on The Punisher, expanding Marvel’s television development slate to five live-action series. The project has been given a put-pilot commitment, meaning the pilot is guaranteed to be put into production.
Deadline reports the adaptation, from Criminal Minds showrunner Ed Bernero, will transform the comic book antihero Frank Castle into a rising-star detective in the New York Police Department who moonlights as a vigilante, seeking justice for those the courts have failed. Bernero will executive produce along with Marvel.
The Punisher joins The Incredible Hulk, Cloak & Dagger, AKA Jessica Jones and Mockingbird in the pipeline from ABC Studios and corporate sibling Marvel. It’s the first Marvel series to be sold outside of Disney-owned ABC.
Created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru, the Punisher debuted in 1974 as an ex-Marine driven by the gangland execution of his wife and two children to wage a one-man war against the mob. A brutal vigilante with a willingness to torture and kill, the character was an unlikely addition to the Marvel Universe in the 1970s but, nonetheless, became a staple of the publisher’s line, supporting several titles at the height of his popularity in the 1980s.
Frank Castle also has spawned three movies — the latest, 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, was a box-office flop, becoming one of the lowest-grossing movies based on a Marvel property — and even appeared, in kid-friendly form, on Spider-Man: The Animated Series and The Super Hero Squad Show.
The Punisher marks the second comics-based series for Fox since the cancellation in May of Human Target. Just last month the network gave a script commitment to an adaptation of The Spectre, the DC Comics’ hooded Spirit of Vengeance.