We have less than a month before Daredevil takes on his biggest challenge yet in the form of the Punisher, a man who isn't afraid to go the extra mile to ensure that the evil in Hell's Kitchen stays down. Season two of DAREDEVIL promises to be darker, and more emotional than its already stellar first season, and we sure can't wait until it hits Netflix next month. In anticipation of Daredevil's new foe, Marvel has interviewed the Punisher himself, Jon Bernthal about his role in the series, and the headspace he had to get into in order to play the character convincingly.
"Well, I think that, fortunately and unfortunately, a dark headspace is nothing new to me. I have some experience with it in the characters that I’ve gotten to play and each one is so different and each one, I think, sort of requires its own process and its own method to get involved [in]. I will say that being a father and being a father of young kids, it’s a real game-changer for me. With a character like this, the trauma that he’s suffering from and what this man has gone through, I’m extremely grateful that this opportunity came to me after I was a father. I think it’s essential in playing the part and understanding what it would mean to fail your family in that way and to lose your family on your watch and how serious that is.
I think that another part is really trying to empathize and try to understand through every avenue that’s made available to you what it means to be a veteran of war and to see real war combat. This is a character that’s extremely important to the military and extremely important to members of law enforcement. This character, he means a lot to a lot of people. So there were a lot of days, in Brooklyn, when I first got there, [where I’d] be putting on fifty, sixty pound weights on my back and just walking back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge, talking to myself. My own little crazy ways of getting into the character. This is a real responsibility and a real honor for me, and I just hope [with] all the hard work, that we got some of it right."
Of course, the most exciting thing about the Punisher won't necessarily be just the Punisher himself, but rather the dynamic he'll have with Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock, a man who's looking to save Hell's Kitchen. Obviously, both characters have their space in the Marvel comics, and seeing two vigilantes clash like this will be amazing to watch, but the conflict we'll be seeing is very different from what we'll be seeing in, say, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR or BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. We can't simply think of this story as two "supers" clashing.
"Look, I think what makes this show so special is what Charlie’s done with Matt and with Daredevil; what he’s done with that is highly unique and they did not want a guy playing just another super hero. I mean, he’s created a fully realized, fully nuanced character and I think that’s what you need to do with Frank Castle as well. So yes, I think both these men have gone through real trauma in their lives and they’re out for justice in their own very, very unique and different ways.
A big part of Matt Murdock is he needs to be one very bad day away from being Frank Castle. That’s the crux of their conflict: “You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know what I’m all about. Get out of my way.” And this sort of concern for the greater good is something that I think is secondary to this man at this point. What’s interesting is you find these two characters that are so alike and so different and then when they collide, they just learn from each other."
Perhaps one of the bigger questions most studios may having going into this season is whether or not the audience would be able to relate to the character. There's that old adage "save the cat," from Blake Snyder's book of the same name. In essence it says that in order for the audience to be able to connect with even the most despicable of characters, there needs to be a "save the cat" moment, where that character proves he or she is capable of doing something decent.
Yes, Matt Murdock is a vigilante with questionable moral tactics, but at the end of the day, he refuses to kill, and he has a definite line he will not cross. With the Punisher, there are no lines, and as such, how difficult a time did Bernthal have with making his Frank Castle likable?
"For me, it’s to be completely unapologetic and to move forward one hundred percent and not concern yourself. One of the beauties of television is that you have enough time that you don’t need to play everything in every moment. When you’re involved in something that’s very brutal and you know your audience is going to abandon you because of your actions, don’t shy away from that. Just do it. Don’t make it a half-measure; don’t take your foot off the accelerator. Go full force, and trust that you will have the opportunity down the road to show why [you did that].
You have to be bold enough to risk losing the audience. I think you just have to do that with a character like this and the great thrill for me, of playing a character on television, is the ability to lose them and win them back. Lose them and win them back and go full out. It was a constant sort of effort with me that if I fought for anything this season, that’s what I really fought for, is to be bold enough to stand or to risk losing the audience and to go full out, because I knew at the end of the day where this guy was coming from was a genuine place."
Sounds like a Punisher I'd like to see.
DAREDEVIL season two hits Netflix on March 18, 2016.