We live in an era of interconnected cinematic universes. As such modern audiences aren’t shocked when Superman crops up in the new Batman movie or their favourite Thor character makes a surprise appearance in Doctor Strange. However, things were different in the early noughties.
The superhero genre was in its adolescence, and the idea that different superhero movies existed in the same continuity was nothing but idle chatter in fan forums. That said, there were a few early attempts at bridging different franchises. There were plans to put Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the first Spider-Man movie, for example, but for various reasons, these cameos never got shot.
Or most of them didn’t. One cameo that actually did go ahead, in a very unofficial capacity, was an appearance by The Punisher in Spider-Man 2, sort of. A man who looks an awful lot like Thomas Jane’s Punisher can be seen behind Mary Jane when she runs through Central Park after jilting John Jameson on their wedding day.
According to the Spider-Man 2 DVD commentary that is supposed to be Frank Castle, aka The Punisher who’d just had his own action movie released. So why didn’t they make it more explicit? Well, it comes down to studio rights.
You see Sony, who was producing Spider-Man 2, didn’t own the rights to The Punisher and as such Jane was prohibited from appearing in Spidey’s second big-screen outing. To get around this Sony approached Jane’s stunt double – who obviously looks a lot like Jane – and asked him to fill in.
So there you have it the Punisher exists in the same universe as Tobey Maguire’s Wallcrawler (sort of). If you can’t get enough Spidey goodness, check out our ranking of all the Spider-Man actors.