Fox Buys ‘The Punisher’ Series Adaptation From Ed Bernero & Marvel With Put Pilot

In one of the last big drama deals this buying season, Fox has handed a put pilot commitment to The Punisher, a series based on the Marvel comic from Ed Bernero and ABC Studios. This is one of two high-profile sales for former Criminal Minds showrunner Ed Bernero. He also has high-concept Western spec The Eye set up at ABC.

The Punisher is described as an hour-long procedural with a Marvel signature and a new take on one of the comic book giant’s iconic characters, Frank Castle, a rising star detective with the New York Police Department who moonlights as the vigilante Punisher, seeking justice for those the system has failed. Bernero will executive produce along with Marvel. This marks the first sale this season and the first one ever outside of ABC for Disney-owned Marvel, which is developing TV series based on its properties through ABC Studios. Last season, the company set up Hulk with Guillermo del Toro and David Eick and AKA Jessica Jones with Melissa Rosenberg at ABC. Those projects have been moving on a slower development track at the network. This marks ABC-affiliated ABC Studios’ second high-profile sale to Fox this season, following another put pilot commitment for the Shonda Rimes-produced 1980s dramedy Wildwood. It also is part of Fox’s return to the comic book adaptation business after the recent cancellation of Human Target. In addition to The Punisher, Fox has in the works The Spectre, a drama based on the DC Comics superhero character co-created by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily.

As for Bernero’s other project, The Eye at ABC, it is a Western with a paranormal twist set in 1871 Arizona and centered on a team of Pinkerton Detectives who search for answers to unexplained phenomena. After a long tenure as showrunner of Criminal Minds and its spinoff,  UTA-repped Bernero has recently focused on development through his ABC Studios-based Bernero Prods run by Rob Kim. Last year, he created and executive produced the ABC/ABC Studios drama pilot Partners.

Comments (51)

  • Finally! PUNISHER is much more of a natural for TV than films.

    Comment by Chris Crosby — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:19pm PDT  
  • Ed is an amazing talent and mentor. He deserves everything coming his way!

    Comment by Congrats! — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:33pm PDT  
  • Sounds DEXTER-y

    Comment by Sam — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:40pm PDT  
    • The Punisher is a character with over 35 years of history. So far the movie endeavor have been wasted opportunities. In the hands of someone who is a real fan and is willing to borrows conception from great TV crime dramas like The Sopranos, The Wire, and The Shield. We may have a winner right here.

      As for the Dexter comparison. Please, Face the writers and producers have been running that show down hill for some time. They already admitted that they don’t care for critic of fan critism.So expect Dexter get even mediocre.

      Comment by George — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:55pm PDT  
      • Don’t get your nerd boy panties in a bunch George. I realize Punisher has been around for years. It’s not like some obscure secret nerd boy premise. I was simply stating that as a procedural and a cop moonlighting as vigilante, it’s DEXTER-y. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, probably a smart way to have the character exist on tv. Now calm down or I’ll have to hang you from a flag pole.

        Comment by Sam — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 6:55pm PDT  
        • THE PUNISHER has nothing whatsoever to do with DEXTER. Your comparison is laughable.

          Comment by Doc Michaels — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 7:48pm PDT  
          • I was referring to the format of the proposed series you half wit.

            Comment by Sam — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 8:38pm PDT  
          • I’ve been a Punisher fan forever, but yes, the whole concept of a vigilante cop if pretty much Dexter. The Punisher comic if very unique, this proposed show however is very little difference to Dexter.

            Comment by Tex A. — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 9:41pm PDT  
  • This is a fail at Fox, it needs the freedom of a channel like HBO.

    Comment by jason — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:45pm PDT  
    • Right, Punisher can only succedd on HBO or Showtime. If it ends up on Fox it will end up getting cancelled because it won’t have the freedom to be a bad ass show.

      Comment by trent. — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 11:50pm PDT  
  • I’d be happy with either a MAX version or a version that takes place in the cinematic universe.

    Comment by Jeff — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:50pm PDT  
  • Should be on cable, not network tv

    Comment by DougMac — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:51pm PDT  
  • Punisher would be a great show. But a cop who moonlights as a vigilante is not the Punisher! They should keep him as a Nam vet and set the story in the eighties…

    Comment by Marcello S. Nicola — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:53pm PDT  
    • It could work if Fox is willing to give the writers and producer creative space like they do on cable. People think cable programing works because of it explicit content. It really works because the writer are allowed to say more with lot depth and exploration.

      The concept so far seems simplistic. It could go something like. Frank Castle is a good Detective with a family. With this psychopathic alter ego which he unleashes as the punisher. The first two season will probably play like an origin story. Eventually his alter ego will be discovered and criminals will seek revenge on him and his family. Then will see how his alter ego has compromised his life. He will go deeper into his punisher alter ego. With some good writing it could work. Just as long it tries to be a complex procedural.

      Comment by George — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 6:12pm PDT  
    • yea that’ll work…………not

      Comment by razor — Friday October 21, 2011 @ 10:42am PDT  
  • Sounds like a horrible idea. Can’t do a show violent enough to please the fans on Fox, the character is extremely unlikable with few redeeming characteristics, which will limit its appeal on TV, and having him have a secret identity as a cop who kills people by night is just goofy. The great thing about The Punisher is that he’s never bothered to hide his identity because he doesn’t HAVE an identity outside of shooting criminals.

    This is THE CAPE, but without a stretchy cape. I know which show I’m going to bet on in Vegas to be the first series canceled next year. Oh, wait, it’ll never make it to series, and probably never even get filmed. Put pilot penalties here we come!

    Comment by Aggregator — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 5:58pm PDT  
    • ^110% Agree.

      The only reason they’re making him a cop is so that he can have a “supporting cast” something which he mostly lacks in the comics. He’s usually a loner. There’s no girlfriend, no teenage sidekick, no mom or dad, no nothing. Just him and lots and lots of bullets and dead criminals.

      The stark, black & white world he lives in (you’re either guilty or innocent) doesn’t make for today’s TV which – in shows like The Sopranos and the Wire – deals in moral ambiguities.

      Making him a cop? That’s a cop-OUT.

      Comment by Jason — Friday October 21, 2011 @ 1:46pm PDT  
  • FX would better but I’ll settle for fox

    Comment by Babyjesus — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 6:07pm PDT  
  • Sounds neutered from the get-go; The Punisher is not and never was a cop. I’d be more interested if it were FX and not FOX because I think it’d be a good fit with Sons of Anarchy and Justified, etc.

    I wonder if Ray Stevenson will be interested in reprising the role.

    Comment by Clark Griswold — Thursday October 20, 2011 @ 6:08pm PDT  
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