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Punisher II Already in the Works

Even though The Punisher isnít due to appear in movie theaters until April 16, Lions Gate Entertainment has already signed a deal with Marvel Enterprises property to produce Punisher II as well as two other Marvel films, based on the characters of Iron Fist and Black Widow. The first Punisher film stars Thomas Jane in the title role opposite John Travolta and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. The sequel is being developed.

Iron Fist has been a Marvel character for more than 30 years. Danny Rand was raised by monks who taught him martial arts, including an ancient technique called the Iron Fist, which gives superhuman strength to the userís punches as well as complete control over their mind, body and spirit. Rand returns to America as an adult, seeking his parentsí murderer and helping people in the process. Artisan Entertainment worked out a deal with Marvel in 2001 to develop an Iron Fist movie that would star Ray Park, who played Toad in X-Men and Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but the deal has since expired. Thereís no word yet as to whether Park is still being considered for the lead role of Iron Fist.

Black Widow is another long-running Marvel character who began as a Soviet spy but then defected to the West and became a superhero who worked with both Daredevil and S.H.I.E.L.D. No specifics of the Black Widow deal were released.

-- Beth Hannan Rimmels