The Punisher is one of the most popular characters from Marvel Comics, but you’d be wrong to label him a hero.
Frank Castle’s violent vigilante tactics have often put him at odds with the other superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and Netflix actor Jon Bernthal wants to honor that portrayal for the character’s upcoming series.
Bernthal spoke with Moviefone and said the Punisher’s actions “may not be something that the audience can agree with or get behind.”
“It's an interesting predicament. To put [the Punisher] as the central character is interesting,” Bernthal said. “I think that my big struggle with him is that one of my biggest kind of things that I'm always fighting for on set is, I always want to preserve the essence of Frank, and have the right and be bold enough to really turn my back on the audience, and not do things to win the audience's favor, but rather stay true to the character and the essence of who he is.”
Bernthal said that the Punisher is “brutal,” “damaged,” “tortured,” and that the satisfaction he gains from violence is almost like an addiction. But the reason he commits these heinous acts, the “pain behind the violence,” is something he wants the series to explore.
“So I think that's the real challenge: being bold enough to not make him too heroic, at least ‘heroic,’ is important to me. That being said, I think there's Frank Castle inside of everybody,” Bernthal added. “I think being a father and being a husband, he's a character that I deeply empathize with.”
It sounds like the upcoming Netflix series won’t shy away from making the Punisher unlikeable. This should make for an interesting and entertaining series, as some of the character’s best comics had a similar approach.
Some of the best shows in the last twenty years have also taken similar approaches, with Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper and many more being despicable. We can’t wait to add Frank Castle to the list when The Punisher debuts later this year.
The Punisher is based on the Marvel Comics character created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., and Ross Andru. The character debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #129 in 1974. Originally meant to be a Spider-Man villain, the Punisher's brutality resonated with fans and turned him into a cult classic. The vigilante has since starred in several series including three live-action movies: one starring Dolph Lundgren in 1989, another starring Thomas Jane in 2004, and Punisher: War Zone with Ray Stevenson in 2004.