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One of the most striking comic book characters to hit TV in recent years has exactly zero superpowers, even though he exists in a world that's full of them. I'm talking, of course, about Jon Bernthal's Frank "The Punisher" Castle, who will be the center of his own Netflix series before the year is up. Many details about the show have been kept under wraps, but showrunner Steve Lightfoot revealed how The Punisher will be different in his standalone series, as compared to his prior appearances in Daredevil Season 2.
You saw him in Daredevil, where he is pretty brutal and pretty dark. But on that show he was always on a mission. You only got to see 25% of who he was, and it was the guy who was always killing. He was an antagonist, not the protagonist. We carry on in a way that fans of the character will be satisfied by, but we're also showing the other 75% of the character, enriching him and making the human side more present.
First, were we supposed to be seeing Frank Castle as an antagonist in Daredevil? I suppose I might have thought that had I not known anything about the character in the first place, but I kind of just saw him as a broken dude whose revenge tactics weren't exactly above the board where morals were concerned. In any case, the upcoming Netflix series will apparently give The Punisher even more justification for the fucked up acts he commits. Probably the kind of justification that would still earn the ire of both the NYPD and the less murder-prone Matt Murdock, as well as everyone in the criminal underworld (and military) that's connected to the people he puts down.
Second, I'm pumped to get a better sense of what else makes Frank castle tick, both as far as his everyday life goes, as well as how he goes about identifying the people responsible for all the woeful events that plagued him during and after his time as a Special Forces soldier. The other NYC heroes have different ways of gathering information, with Matt's super-senses, Jessica Jones' actual detective skills and Luke Cage's closeness to the streets. It seems likely Frank would just use his fists to get whatever information he wants, and that can definitely be useful and fun to watch.
In his interview with SFX magazine, Steve Lightfoot also shared that while viewers might not necessarily sympathize with Punisher's specific tactics for seeking vengeance, there will definitely be aspects of the character that anyone can relate to.
In Daredevil, he was a guy with a very simple agenda, which was revenge. And that was used to highlight Matt Murdock's dilemmas. In this show we've had to give him dilemmas of his own. With any show, even if it's about superheroes or whatever, you have to find things that normal people will identify with, that are everyman qualities. I've never been a Special Forces guy who kills 50 people, but I do know what it's like to grieve. At heart, you've got a very tough guy who isn't necessarily great at showing is feelings, having at some point to deal with the loss of his family. And that's something everyone can identify with. We can empathize with that, if not the actions it leads to.
One has to imagine that Frank Castle wasn't exactly the most touchy-feely kind of father and husband whenever his family was still alive, considering his secrecy-heavy military background, as well as the small group of people he can actually call a friend. The first Punisher footage that was screened at San Diego Comic-Con did offer up Frank's softer side through a set of shots with him playing the guitar with his daughter, and that kind of emotional element can go a long way in showing fans that we're not dealing with a monster here, but rather a man dealing with profound loss. Not the kind of thing that was brought to mind during that badass prison break scene in Daredevil, that's for sure.
With its exact release date still a mystery, The Punisher will hit Netflix likely in November or December, so stay tuned for more on that front. In the meantime, you can head to our fall premiere schedule to see when all the other new and returning shows will show up in primetime and beyond.