– by David Kozlowski

We’re probably within 60 days of Netflix dropping The Punisher Season 1 on a nation of hardcore Marvel fans (and hopefully a wider audience too). Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle in Daredevil Season 2 was nothing short of a revelation; here was the definitive Punisher, a version of the character that everyone agrees has reset and reinvigorated the character (seriously, is there anyone out that’s down on Bernthal’s Punisher?).

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of Frank Castle was his humanity. Bernthal played Castle as much, much more than a mindless killing machine; this was a character who loved his family, made new friends and allies, and wasn’t afraid to crack a smile — but could pivot on a dime and start cracking skulls. Were it any other actor, I’d say that we were stacking the deck against this show meeting our mounting expectations. Except, Bernthal is a different kind of actor, he lives these parts in a way that reminds you of young DeNiro or early Pacino — yeah, he’s that good!

Related – Marvel’s The Punisher To Examine The Toll Of Endless War

Unfortunately, Marvel and Netflix have been incredibly slow to release new footage or a proper trailer for The Punisher (so far). In my experience, once you’re 60 days out it’s time to saturate the market, build momentum, and drive traffic to your product. Then again, this is Netflix, and we all know that they play by different rules.

Our friends over at EW must feel the same way, so they went to the source and interviewed Bernthal to get some insight into what we can all expect this fall:

“[The Punisher]’s a man on a mission again, and what [Punisher showrunner and Hannibal alum Steve] Lightfoot is trying to do is ask the question ‘What do you do when that’s over? What do you find out about yourself when you realize there’s nothing left? What is his purpose?’ There’s an introspective bent in trying to figure that out. He finds something to fight for, something new to believe in.”

Ok cool, we know that Castle is more than just a killing machine, he’s a combat vet who’s looking to understand his purpose, and maybe find a new path to follow beyond vengeance.

Bernthal’s debut in Episode 1 of Daredevil Season 2 was a true genre game-changer!


EW asked Bernthal about the stakes and adversaries he’s facing in The Punisher:

“Nobody is who they appear to be… This season is much darker as it goes, it gets darker and darker and more visceral. The show takes you on this journey of Frank becoming more and more human again and then shutting off and shutting off and going back to what works for him, and the place where he kind of belongs, and I think that’s a place of solitude and of darkness and destruction. It’s going to get into as dark and as brutal a place as you’ve ever seen in the Marvel world, I can promise you that.”

Wow, that’s an awesome description of what sounds like a pretty epic journey. To pull this off and get the audience to buy in, you need some solid acting chops, and Bernthal is no slacker when it comes to immersing in his characters:

“I think there’s a bit of Frank in all of us. We all go through bouts of darkness and regret and shame, and we mess up and we make mistakes, so I think to really zero in on that and to dig into that wound is what makes him interesting… But if there’s one thing I want to get right for this show, it’s that I want to be completely respectful of the military community and the people that this character means so much to. I just really want to get that right. More than anything, Frank is a soldier.”

Bernthal knows that his portrayal of Frank Castle carries weight and means something significant to our veterans and actively serving forces, particularly the Marine Corps.

Expect a significant amount of blood, mayhem, and visceral violence in The Punisher!


Finally, Bernthal leaves us with a peek inside his working process. What does he carry into this performance and why does it matter to him:

“It’s a hundred times worse, I’ll be honest. [Laughs] It might be the Frank Castle inside me, but I’m always thinking things could be headed for the worst. I’m horrified all the time. Look, there was an unbelievable response to the Frank we put out there in Daredevil, and it means the world to me, and I’m so grateful, and I do not want to let people down.”

If you haven’t bought into Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle in Daredevil Season 2, I highly recommend re-watching the first half of that season. Bernthal was amazing, he owns this character and I can’t wait to see where he takes him (and us).

Is Jon Bernthal’s interpretation of The Punisher the definitive version for you? If not, who do you think played the best Punisher? Let us know in the comments down below!

The Punisher hits Netflix this fall (rumor has it on Nov 10-11, 2017).

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.