DIRECTOR LEXI ALEXANDER TALKS ‘PUNISHER: WAR ZONE’
The filmmaker discusses staying faithful to the comic and how her martial arts expertise influenced the fight scenes
By Andy Serwin
Posted December 6, 2007 4:10 PM
“Punisher: War Zone” director Lexi Alexander is taking her version of the classic Marvel vigilante to the MAX.
Basing her take of Frank Castle on the Garth Ennis-penned, mature-readers version of the Punisher comic book from Marvel’s MAX imprint, Alexander—in her very first interview about the film on a conference call from the set—spoke to Wizard Universe about what to expect from this dark, violent version of the skull-clad killer antihero.
“The last ‘Punisher’ movie wasn’t really relevant to us,” Alexander said of “War Zone,” which opens on Sept. 12, 2008, and stars Ray Stevenson (“Rome”) as Frank Castle. “There’s a lot of comparison, but none of the people on my team ever looked at it and said, ‘Okay, how can we be different or better?’ We just made our own film. I concentrated on really, really making it as close to the Max series as possible. I think we really achieved that in both look and tone. When I look at the dailies, seriously I think I’m looking at the Max comic book. I think the feeling of it will be much darker, and the comic fans will realize it’s more like the comic.”
Check out this Q&A with Alexander, and get a look at the first pic from the movie, courtesy of Lions Gate!
WIZARD: Would you say that “Punisher: War Zone” is set in the world of the other Marvel movies?
ALEXANDER: I think in the sense of the other Marvel characters, it’s definitely is its own world. In terms of location, though, we call it the Marvel New York. Rather than setting it in the real New York, I wanted it to have a surreal feeling.
What can viewers expect in terms of the violence and rating from your take on the Punisher?
ALEXANDER: Well, it definitely will be a hard R. Luckily, Lionsgate’s been great about it. They haven’t given me any guidelines in terms of violence. I think they have a great studio to make a violent movie. And I really like violent movies. [Laughs]
How would you describe the working experience on your first big studio film?
ALEXANDER: I think there’s advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is there’s a lot more toys, a bigger crew and more resources. The disadvantage is the more money you get, the more responsibility you have, the more people you have to answer to. There’s all kinds of people who have a say in how this movie should be, or giving me input on where I can go and where I can’t go. I think I got really, really lucky for this being my first studio movie and having people who really believe in me. I know from other directors that on their first studio films, they hardly got to make any decisions themselves, so I got really, really lucky.
Does the “War Zone” title have any relevance to anything from the comics?
ALEXANDER: When we were discussing titles, obviously Marvel had a huge input on that, and we wanted to go with something fans would recognize as a title. And when they suggested that, “War Zone” seemed to fit in with what we were doing, especially with the ending. The ending justifies the title.
Did you have a favorite kill in this movie?
ALEXANDER: I do have a favorite kill, but I don’t want to give too much away. Let’s just say it has to do with a headbutt.
How did Jigsaw wind up in this film?
ALEXANDER: “The first script I received had Jigsaw already in it, I wasn’t familiar with where he came in in the series. But he was there, he was the antagonist, the villain; I fell in love with this character. I think he’s a great villain, and I wanted to keep him. I don’t think we strictly went for one storyline in the comics. We took parts from the world of Frank Castle and tried to make the best story possible.
Coming from your background as a martial arts champ and a stuntwoman, did you ever step to change something?
ALEXANDER: “You know, I have a lot of people hired to do the fights and fight choreography. But once in a while, it’s quite funny because I’ll jump in. I’ll see that a punch doesn’t sell, or an elbow hit doesn’t sell, and the guys shake their head because they tower above me. Ray Stevenson, he can’t believe this little midget is showing him how to fight. But that’s a good feeling for a director. So they all listen to me. The most brutal thing about the whole movie was the location. Part of the finale was filmed in a cold and toxic building. We had to film wearing oxygen masks the whole time. Except for the actors; they didn’t get any! [Laughs]
Keep tuned to wizarduniverse.com for more on “Punisher: War Zone”!