Punisher: Born Screenplay Fan Fiction | Fanboys Anonymous

Punisher: Born Screenplay Fan Fiction

Posted by Dan Ashley Sunday, November 10, 2013
A very good day to you all. Thank you for your interest in my fan-fiction movie script. It's something I wrote a while back and am happy to share on fanboysanonymous.com.

Born was written as a modernized update of the classic Punisher origin, and skirts between the various formative events and beginnings of Frank Castle's life as New York City's most wanted vigilante. Essentially, I wanted a story that jumped between Garth Ennis' Marvel Knights and MAX runs and some of the classic 616 issues back from the day when Punisher was making the transition from the misunderstood dark hero of the '70s Spider-Man series.

And why not? Frank has a wicked sense of humor, and throughout their rocky history they've been allies as well as enemies, resulting in several comedic moments. However, I also wanted this script to really get to the heart of Frank's torment, and for that I really didn't want to hold back the blood and guts terror behind the Punisher's eternal war.

Read on and I will explain what I did and why at the end of each act:

ACT 1 – INTRO

Darkness!

Helicopter rotors are spinning, chopping through the wind, drowning out the sound of radio chatter. They’re trying to communicate with a military outpost. No communication is being made. Just dead air.

Fading to light, we’re in the back of a UH-1 Huey Helicopter flying over miles of mountainous terrain. The ground is mostly dust, with patches of green and the odd group of trees. Looking out across the sky, there are several other Hueys riding up beside the one we’re sitting in. The sky is stormy, and both dust and rain whip by in blustery winds.
US Air Cavalry vietnam war battle scene

SOMEWHERE IN THE PAKTIKI PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

The soldiers on board the Hueys start preparing; locking and loading. They have protective goggles on to shield them from the dust. There is a sense of urgency and fear amongst them. Out the sides, smoke starts to run wildly though the air—racing away as if trying to escape some terrible thing. Up front, there’s a better view as the Hueys approach the LZ.

PILOT:

Sweet Jesus.

PILOT #2:

Sweet FUCKIN’ Jesus?!!

A platoon sergeant steps up front, looking over the shoulder of the pilots. One glance, and he turns to shout to his men. Not a word is understood over the chopping blades and the wind.

The Hueys swoop in a mile’s distance from the landing zone to see what remains of the US Marines’ military outpost in the area. There has been a devastating large-scale ambush, and to finish it all off, it appears that much of the area has been bombed/incinerated. The earth is black and charred but sodden by rain. Leaden clouds fill the sky in heavy contrast to the burned earth below, and thick plumes of acrid smoke trail away from the remaining fires

The helicopters pass low over the charred remains of elevated machine gun nests. Bodies cover the blackened earth in a half-baked mosaic of blood, burned flesh, and camouflage; a poorly presented jigsaw of wasted human life.

Grounded choppers lie dismembered and overturned, shattered windows still reflecting the grey sky and the burning fires, the cockpits within smouldering like black holes in reality. Faces upturned in the mud look up to the sky, their deathly grimaces white as ash, sometimes even just coated in ash.

On landing, Marines file out, running bent over with M16A4s, M4A1 Carbines and M249 SAWs aimed across the war zone. Bodies line the ground thinly at first—bodies of the Taliban—and they steadily pile up. Many of them are shot to pieces, limbs tattered if not completely gone. One soldier starts to vomit while others can’t help but stop and gloat.

One sergeant looks out across the muddy strip and sees a figure standing dark amid a curtain of smoke. M16A4 tucked into his shoulder, aimed forward, his face slowly changes from puzzlement to horror as the wind gradually blows the smoke away, just enough to see the survivor as the sergeant approaches.

The other soldiers catch on quick enough, some of them swearing under their breaths, many of them having no words at all for the occasion. They slowly approach from behind their sergeant, lowering their rifles as he does.

We do not yet see who he is...

SERGEANT TORRANCE: (Calling urgently to the medic) Joe, get over here. (Then to the stranger in front of him) Hey buddy, you okay? Can you hear me?

The soldier directly behind him—Private Johnson, a skinny African-American kid with a cigarette hanging from his lips—looks with wide-open eyes. His face is shadowed beneath the bulk of his helmet, but his lower lip can be seen trembling, and what could be a tear—if it isn’t sweat—rolls down from his cheek to his scruffy jawline.

JOHNSON: (Upset) Jesus, lookit ‘is fuckin’ eyes, man!

Torrance doesn’t know where he is anymore, or at least that's what his suddenly feeble body language seems to insinuate. His mouth opens to speak, but no words come out.

There stands something that shouldn’t be, a man who by all means should be dead. Six feet and two inches of torn olive drab combat fatigues, torn flesh and blood, Frank Castle stands tall, his presence embodying this entire nightmare, yet he is somewhere else completely.

One of his trouser legs is completely torn off at the knee, a stab wound slashed wide and deep through his shin and calf, now clogged with dust. The same for the arm and shoulder of his shirt and flack jacket. There are numerous bullet holes in his limbs.

In his right, held by the muzzle, hangs a shattered and bloody M16A4, the hard plastic stock almost completely disintegrated. At his feet, all around him, lie the slain bodies of up to twenty Taliban soldiers, all of them beaten or stabbed to death.

His face is a terror to behold. Smeared with blood, sweat and soot, his expression is carved of stone. His blackened and bloodshot eyes are staring into Torrance and beyond, practically burning red as though he is in Hell.
Punisher Born Vietnam War Frank Castle Ambush Fight
Torrance is frozen under his glare and afraid to move, but awkwardly tries to speak. He finally manages to do so as the medic races up and begins to assess the soldier, the medic's face a display of pure shock and disgust.

TORRANCE: It’s alright... you’re alright... you’re going home...

RADIO: (echoes out spookily after some muffled chatter) Can you hear me now?
This scene is a fleshed out re-enactment of the final scene of Ennis' Punisher: Born. At the end of Born, we witnessed the fatal ambush of the Viet Cong against Valley Forge Firebase, and Frank was found in exactly the same manner. If I remember correctly, it is Sgt. Torrance that tells this story of finding Frank that way at the end of Ennis' final volume, "Valley Forge, Valley Forge."

Visually, I wanted to evoke the Ride of the Valkyries scene from Apocalypse Now, only with the complete opposite of the soldiers' sense of bravado, thus knowing that they were headed into a potentially deadly aftermath, knowing that their own had been slaughtered in an overnight conflict.
I also wanted to introduce Frank as having already gone over to "the other side" because of his experience here, having been pushed to his absolute limit and survived impossible odds! Next...
ACT 2 – WELCOME BACK

FADE TO

Airport – New York City

Our soldier, Captain Frank Castle of the United States Marine Corps, is in full decorative uniform, looking almost as if the war had never happened with the exception of the fact that some cuts on his face are still healing, one arm is in a sling and the other is propping him up straight on a crutch.

There is little expression on his face but for a distant sadness and a sense of numbness, not from the morphine he has been medicated with, but something psychological blocking out the nightmarish ordeal he has been through.

He enters the lobby of the busy airport, a few other soldiers filtering out behind him. The first thing he sees, at the front of a crowd of expectant faces, is an attractive short blonde mother holding a one-year-old brown-haired boy in her arms. Her four-year-old daughter peeking out from behind her leg has her blonde hair, but tied up in pigtails.

Beneath his cap, Frank’s expression doesn’t change as he slowly approaches. At first she spots him just because she has known him for the past half a decade. His build and height are the immediate indicator, especially the way he towers above those around him.

But she is uncertain then. He is a changed man. The boy in her arms seems more interested in his own thumb, sucking on it casually and watching the crowds go by. He has never met his father, serving his country in Afghanistan.

Frank stops walking on his crutch just a few feet away and looks his wife Maria right in the eyes for a few seconds and then one side of his lips curls into a half smile, causing Maria’s face to first open up in surprise before emotionally crumbling.

MARIA: Frank!

Immediately, their daughter Lisa looks up in excitement, her arms reaching out, waving to him.

LISA: Daddy, daddy, over here.

Frank painfully takes the weight off his crutch and makes the effort to get to his family faster, taking his wife and son into his arms as Lisa swaps her mother’s leg for his good one. Tears run down Maria’s face uncontrollably, her efforts to keep her face straight proven too much too soon.

MARIA: Jesus God, Frank, I thought...

FRANK: No, not a chance, this was the last time.

LISA: We were worried about you, daddy.

FRANK: Daddy was worried about you too, honey. I missed you... you’ve grown so much...

MARIA: (Under her breath) You really mean that? Please, you promise?

FRANK: I promise, Maria. I’m never leaving you again.

They hug tightly and kiss, Maria not wanting to let go except for the boy in danger of being hugged blue in the face. But they do, and Maria presents the newest member of the family, holding the boy out to Frank, although knowing he has his arm in a sling. He has his blue eyes.

MARIA: Welcome back, Frank!
Punisher's family wife Maria Castle children Lisa and David
There was another scene, I can't recall what comic book it was from, of Frank stepping off the plane like this and being happy to be back with his family. Of course, I felt it sensible to focus more on the reactions of his family. In the Thomas Jane Punisher film (2004), it's just the wife and one almost-teenage son. This is total bollocks. I'm setting you up for heartbreak, that requires much younger kids and seeing them grow up, albeit briefly, would, I feel, give you a sense that Frank was willing to put his past behind him and try to heal for the sake of his family. In fact, they would have been his only chance of redemption. 
ACT 3 – FIVE YEARS LATER

The Castle family home; a house in a quiet suburban backstreet of Brooklyn, New York.

It’s mid-to-late morning and Maria is in the kitchen packing a picnic basket. A small radio is playing from beside the refrigerator. The song is a classic: "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon. The song could almost be a fateful one.

The house is otherwise filled with the noise of screaming children, wailing high-pitched laughter as an eight-year-old Lisa chases a now five-year-old Frank David Jr. across the house, down the stairs, and into the living room. He dives onto the couch laughing, careful not to knock into his dad, Frank, who is reading the Daily Bugle, lost in his own world. Lisa catches up in an instant and mercilessly continues to tickle Frank Jr. under his arms as he squeals, protesting with laughter. From the kitchen their mother shouts at them.

MARIA: Kids, don’t disturb Daddy while he’s reading the paper.

Lisa and David continue to wrestle on the couch, giggling quietly. Frank takes one final glance at the small article headed, "GANGLAND SHOOTING IN MANHATTAN." Next to it, Spider-Man has his own feature, having tackled a petty street thug for stealing an old lady’s purse. His article takes up most of the page. This troubles Frank somewhat.

FRANK: Damn... (looks at the kids briefly then thinks of a careful curse-word) Webhead...
Spider man daily bugle newspaper headline
He then rolls up the paper and lightly plonks Lisa over the head with it, jokingly.

FRANK: I don’t see any shoes on those feet, madam. Are we going to Sheep’s Meadow barefoot?

LISA: (Giggling) David hid them.

Frank shoots his son a mild look of authority, his hand landing on David's shoulder, big enough in comparison to his son’s small body to pick him up one handed, but he’s gentle and far from serious, no matter how quiet he has always been.

FRANK: You hid your sister’s shoes?

DAVID: Sure did! (then breaks out into giggles with his sister).

FRANK: Why would you do such a terrible thing?

DAVID: I was just playing, what’s so terrible?

FRANK: Have you smelled your sister’s feet?

LISA: DADDY!!! My feet don’t smell...

Frank Jr. bursts out laughing, almost devilishly, rolling back onto the couch as his dad takes hold of Lisa and assures her he wasn’t serious.

FRANK: Okay enough play ‘til we get to the park, go get Lisa’s shoes, Frankie.

The little boy springs off the couch energetically, still laughing as he disappears up the stairs.

Frank stands up and drops the Daily Bugle onto the coffee table, then picks Lisa up in his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather and hugs her spontaneously. At 29, Frank is still in fighting condition, even years after his war wounds. And with Lisa he’s still making up for lost time to this day, having taken to training up Special Forces Marines.

LISA: Think I might be getting a little big for this, daddy.

FRANK: Never!

LISA: What was granddaddy like when you were my age?

FRANK: (Holds her at arms length and looks at her quizzically) What brought that on?

LISA: I just wondered...

FRANK: I dunno... he was quiet, I guess...

LISA: Like you?

Frank shoots Lisa another look and then just smiles unsurely. He knows she didn’t mean it in a bad way. She’s just curious after all.

FRANK: Well... he didn’t wisecrack all day like an eight year old girl, if that’s what you mean?

Lisa squeals comically.
Once again, another shortish scene to set us up for the dramatic opening. My idea for the whole script was epic and wouldn't have been your average action thriller by a long shot. I wanted to have all the family scenes before the credits so that the audience wouldn't have to sit through yet another origin movie. 
So here we have more comic relief, a bit more of a happy, laid back Frank and a big sign that he might have come back wanting to separate and regretted wanting to, but that he loved them like a confident husband and father, despite having other things on his mind...
ACT 4 – COLORED RED

SHEEPS’ MEADOW, CENTRAL PARK, MANHATTAN, NYC

AFTERNOON

The Castles have picked a spot not far from the jogging trail where the trees line the large meadow. The sun is bright and hot. Lisa sits with her mom near the picnic basket while Maria dabs her nose with sun blocker. Frank has both arms around David, guiding his hands in learning how to fly the kite he bought him, the leaves in the treetops rustling with the breeze. Under the talking and the rustling in the wind, the portable radio on the blanket Maria laid is playing quietly.

In the sky the kite, coloured red, dips and dives like an eagle chasing prey!

DAVID: (Laughing) It’s like trying to catch a fish... in the sky...

FRANK: (Laughing confusedly) Sky fish, huh?! Never thought of it that way. Hold it to your chest. Pull with your elbows. That’s it. You wanna try it by yourself.

DAVID: I’ll get blown away.

FRANK: The wind’s not that strong.

MARIA: Boys, come and eat something.

An odd sound comes to Frank’s attention, and then to Maria’s. On the footpath a man is running. Between the tree trunks, he is hard to see immediately, but it is clear he’s out of breath and out of shape. His feet are clumsy, but what is stranger is that he isn’t dressed for running, especially since by the sound his feet are making, he must be wearing leather shoes.

Frank looks back to Maria, and Maria to Frank with one hand shading her eyes from the sun. Frank then looks resignedly back to David and begins to reel in the kite.

FRANK: Come on buddy, dinner time.

DAVID: (Protests) :(

FRANK: You can run it again after you’ve had a "sammich."

Moments later at the picnic basket, the kids are eating sandwiches. Frank and Maria have already finished and Maria is looking back at the footpath.

MARIA: Weird...

FRANK: What? Running man?

MARIA: Yeah... really weird.

FRANK: This IS New York City, Maria.

MARIA: Yeah well, it’s New York weird, even.

Frank just smiles distantly looking out along the meadow. There are a few other picnic spots on the other sides but the people are few and far between, distant enough to look as small as ants.

FRANK: David!?

DAVID: Uh-huh?

FRANK: Do you want to show Lisa how to fly a fish?

MARIA and LISA: What?

LISA: Fish don’t fly, dad

Frank smiles widely. It’s still a secret joke. David gets it and starts to laugh cunningly with a mouthful of bread.

FRANK: (Reaching out for the rolled up kite and handing it over) Stay away from the trees, son. Lisa, make sure he doesn’t blow away.

LISA: What if I tied him to a tree?

DAVID: (Gets up to run away) Nooooo!

Lisa gives chase and the kids run off into the field giggling. Lisa chasing and David running

MARIA: To think you used to be scared of them

Frank crawls over to Maria, who’s sitting cross-legged picking at a few blades of grass, and lays on his back, his head rested against one of her legs. Maria's eyes catch something then. Something she's seen a thousand times and yet can't seem to accept. Just above Frank's left tricep, that thick bullet wound scar... She absently tries to pull his shirt sleeve back over it and then looks Frank in the eyes.

MARIA: What happened, huh?

Frank could speak volumes about it, he could tell her that the war happened, that the battle that had brought him home for good pointed out better things to be scared of. It wouldn’t have been completely true, but it would have explained some things. Instead he chooses to keep his peace on the matter, and the complicated expression on his face as he stares off into nothingness speaks volumes for him instead.

Maria just watches for a moment and then accepts that she will not get an answer now and it doesn’t bother her; at least on the surface.

FRANK: I don’t mean to be... difficult!

In the distance the kids are flying the kite again and Lisa is holding onto David so he won’t blow away. Jokingly she’s pretending instead that they’re both blowing away.

MARIA: BUT—

FRANK: No “buts.”

MARIA: So is this an apology for something, Frank?

FRANK: (Pauses) I put you all through a lot, didn’t I? Coming home...

MARIA: Do we look unhappy? Come on, Frank, what gives?

FRANK: (Sits up and faces Maria, blocking her view of the kids) No, the opposite. I mean, I used to be scared out of my wits. It felt unreal sometimes, and I wondered if it was real. I just didn’t realise how lucky I am, you know?

MARIA: For a "man of the world," you’re real shitty with words, Frank (smiles at him assuringly).

FRANK: Yeah well, I'm a doer, not a talker.

Lisa and David have strayed near the trees some distance away, in the direction the strange man was running. The kite swan dives and hits the ground and David runs over to it, worried that it’s broken. Luckily it hasn’t, and it brings the smile back to his face.

DAVID: Again.

LISA: Or maybe I’ll just tie you to a tree.

David screams and heads for the tree lines with Lisa giving chase.

MARIA: You don’t have to be a romantic every day of your life, Frank. Say what you mean if you can’t say what you feel.

FRANK: I’m sorry I asked for a divorce, and I’m glad we didn’t... I can do this, I love you! I really do!

Maria freezes, struck dumb. She realises just how long she has waited to hear this and just how proud she feels right then.

Meanwhile David runs through some bushes at the other end of the meadow. He has far outrun Lisa considering her size advantage. Suddenly, at witnessing something that changes the look on his face from joyous mischief to uncertainly and fright, he is stopped in his tracks.

A mob of tracksuit-clad men, one dressed casual smart, some of them holding guns at the man previously seen running, open fire just as he stops dead in his tracks. At this moment, Lisa stumbles into view and jumps out of her skin with fright. She cannot stop the scream exiting her mouth and as she grabs David by the forearm and flings him around to make their escape.

As those first shots are fired and the sound travels across Sheep’s Meadow, Maria’s face switches to shock at how loud and close the gunshots sounded. Frank immediately spins around and looks to where it came from. He is on his feet in an instant and scanning the trees.

MARIA: The kids, where are the kids? No! (gets up to run and find them).

FRANK: No, stay here (begins to run).

MARIA: LISA? DAVID?

FRANK: DAVID... LISA?

The kids come into view suddenly, David in a mad dash and Lisa almost directly behind him. Behind them, the mobsters run at a lazier pace but with clear panic and uncertainty in their eyes. There’s a bald one wearing sunglasses who looks like Kojak, only greasier and meaner looking. He gives them the order to keep chasing even when Frank and Maria are in sight.

BALDIE/TONY COSTA/SMART DRESSED MAN: No witnesses!

MARIA: GOD!!!

FRANK: Get those fucking guns away from my kids!

TONY COSTA: Ice ‘em, for fuck's sake!!!

As Lisa and David run for their lives and as Frank runs to save them, Maria gets up by instinct and begins to run for them also despite her fear and hesitance.

The mob stops in their tracks and point their guns. One of them has a micro-machine gun. He is the first to open fire. The rattle deafens everybody. A punching-tearing sound fills the air and Lisa screams, falling to the ground face first. Frank and Maria scream in unison with the sound of their daughter shot and screaming.

Other distant park visitors are running for cover far away.

But with it all happening so fast there is no time allowed to act. The whole mob opens fire, picking their shots. David opens his mouth to scream but falls silent, a single blood drop exiting his mouth, catapulted into the field before being caught by a single blade of grass.

Maria disappears from the picture with a shot and a sound of someone being punched in the gut, and winded. Frank, riddled with bullets, is severely slowed down but refuses to give up. and makes a last attempt to reach his kids before one more shot to the chest puts him down.

COSTA: (unnerved) Alright, move, let’s go.

MOBSTER #1: Put another bullet in that big guy (pointing to a bloodied and motionless Frank).

COSTA: They’re dead and we’re gone, move your asses (begins to run away, looking over his shoulder).

MOBSTER #2: Real fuckin’ messy, man. Pistols just ain’t good enough for ya?

MOBSTER #1: It got the job done, didn’t it?

Moments have passed, Frank doesn’t know how many but two beat cops are now running across the field. Frank crawls, covered in his own blood, over to David, who is lying on his side and motionless. Painfully, he kneels and rolls David into his arms.

He’s desperately trying to suppress the shock he’s now going into, certain that he's going to die, but refusing outright. He is unaware that Maria is only feet away behind him, clutching at the centre of her bloody chest, unable to breathe and her face frozen in a dying panic. Her eyes look up to the sky, welling with tears. She doesn’t know what is happening.

Frank begins to cry, shaking David in his arms. One hand cradling his head identifies a bleeding hole where the bullet went in. David’s face is somehow peaceful but with a single stream of blood crawling out of his mouth. Frank’s hand comes away bloody and he puts David down carefully, seeing Lisa begin to writhe next to them.

Frank tries to get up to walk to her but his legs won’t let him, as big a man as he is. Lisa’s eyes are filled with panic, her hands clutched over her belly and when Frank leans over to take her in his arms, her hands fall away to reveal a boiling mass of guts threatening to spill out.

LISA: Da...

FRANK: ...no...

Frank does what he can, remembering his field training, clamping his hand down over the horrific wound...

LISA: (barely even reacting) D-da...

FRANK: You’re okay, baby, you’re gonna be...

LISA: Da...

The girl suddenly splutters, her eyes have become older somehow, at having seen what only soldiers would see in war. But she doesn’t understand. She begins to glaze over and it is suddenly apparent by her stillness that she has died.

FRANK: No... no... no...

By now the cops arrive, speeding on foot. But when they get there, they don’t know what to do.
Frank has passed out on his knees, propped up by the bodies of his two murdered kids in his lap and his wounds still oozing.

In the background the radio is still chattering. The song is the summertime hit "WELCOME BACK" by John Sebastian from 1976.

ROLL CREDITS
Punisher born skull explosion and fire
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY A GUEST WRITER

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