Filmmaker Mike Pecci shocked his fans today when he revealed, via his website, that his long-awaited Punisher fan film, The Dead Can’t Be Distracted, may never see the light of day: He received a cease and desist letter from Marvel Studios, which demanded that he “immediately stop [the] unauthorized use, advertising, sale and/or distribution of any production of The Punisher or any other Marvel character-based films.” In Pecci’s words, “According to Marvel it would ‘confuse the audience’ into believing that it’s an official Marvel production.” Confusion, though, seems unlikely, which makes the whole thing all the more baffling. What’s even more odd is there have been dozens (if not more) quality fan films produced based on Marvel characters and stories, and, to my knowledge, none have been taken down by a cease and desist from Marvel.
But for Punisher fans this leads to a more interesting question: could the real reason Marvel/Disney is trying to halt this production (which is based on a very popular storyline from Greg Rucka) be because they could be planning to use it as the basis for a third Punisher film? Or maybe a Punisher television series, since none of the previous three movies set the box office on fire, and Disney might be trying to make the character work in another medium? That, of course, is purely speculation, but by sending Pecci this cease and desist, it could be showing their hand regarding their future plans for the character. Or they could just be flexing their legal muscle to protect their rights to the material. What do you think? Speculate for yourself in the comments below.