Rumor has it that 2004’s The Punisher made a comic book fan out of Thomas Jane. He struck up a friendship with the cover artist for the Punisher comic book, Tim Bradstreet, who used him as a reference for the covers to Dark Horse’s Cal McDonald series. He started RAW entertainment with Bradstreet and Cal McDonald creator Steve Niles, and wrote one of its comic book offerings, Bad Planet.
He campaigned for the role of Jonah Hex, eventually voicing the character for an animated feature. He was briefly attached to play the role of the Comedian in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. And he famously dropped out of a sequel to The Punisher when it became clear to him that the film was moving in a direction that would do a diservice to the character.
But it would be hard to imagine that Jane would become a fan enough of the character to create a fan film around the character. And he didn’t, wink wink, nudge nudge. But Dirty Laundry is as close as you can come to a Punisher film without getting sued by Marvel/Disney. Jane is not shy about the inspiration for the short:
“I wanted to make a fan film for a character I’ve always loved and believed in – a love letter to Frank Castle & his fans. It was an incredible experience with everyone on the project throwing in their time just for the fun of it. It’s been a blast to be a part of from start to finish — we hope the friends of Frank enjoy watching it as much as we did making it.”
The film runs about 10 minutes and was directed by Phil Joanou (Three O’Clock High, Rattle and Hum, State of Grace, Gridiron Gang). Ron Perlman has a small role as a store clerk. The lead character, played by Jane, is never mentioned as Frank Castle or the Punisher by name, but if you want the character to be the Punisher, they don’t tell you it isn’t him either.
Here is Dirty Laundry: