Marvel‘s tried three times to make a Punisher movie that connected with audiences, they took three swings and missed each time. So does that mean three strikes and they’re out? Does that mean that if Marvel can’t get it right, maybe others should be afforded the opportunity? I don’t know, but I know that if you make your own Punisher fan film then Marvel’s going to lower the boom, the legal boom. As in cease and desist.For the answer you should ask director Mike Pecci, who made a film version of Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto‘s Punisher story “The Dead Can’t Be Distracted.” With a trailer online and a presumption that the film was good for a future release date, Pecci and his team got litigated against with C and D order courtesy of Marvel, who said that the release of Pecci’s film violates their duly owned trademark.
Sure, Marvel is technically correct, but when was the last time a big entertainment conglomerate lowered the legal hammer (or gavel, I guess) on a fan film? So what is a fan filmmaker to do? Well, Pecci released a statement to rally support:
According to Marvel it would ‘confuse the audience’ into believing that it’s an official Marvel production. At first, I was flattered that the quality of our work might even compare to the millions they spend on production and advertising, but then the reality of it all set in. Marvel legal was demanding that I don’t release the film! Since when does Marvel go after fan films? Wasn’t there a recent and heavily promoted Punisher fan film with Thomas Jane? What could I do about this?
What would you do when staring at a letter from one of the biggest, wealthiest companies in the movie business? They can put me out of business with the snap of their fingers. Do I have a beef with Marvel? Absolutely not. I think they have become so huge and that my film is lost in the belly of the corporate beast. I want the right people at Marvel to see this film, to rescue our film, and to hopefully be inspired by my love for this character. … Write to Marvel. Tell them that you want to see this film. Tell them you want to see our Punisher on the small screen.
He’s got a point about a couple of things there, not the least of which is the existence of “Dirty Laundry,” but I guess Thomas Jane can get away with anything (that last bit was meant to be read in a snooty voice). Still, it’s a pretty harsh step for Marvel. Say what you want about George Lucas, but he never sued, or threatened to sue, the people responsible for all those fan films, he even offered some of them work.
Anyway, check out the teaser for The Dead Can’t Be Distracted below, and decide for yourself just how crazy Marvel’s being about the matter: