Mild spoilers below for those who haven't yet watched Netflix's The Punisher. No major plot points will be discussed.
Before getting a chance to take part in his own dangerous and depressing narrative, Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle busted skulls in Hell's Kitchen during Daredevil Season 2, where he found an unexpected new friend in Karen Page. The two characters are crossing paths once again in Netflix's The Punisher, which is now available to stream in full. When CinemaBlend recently spoke with actress Deborah Ann Woll, I asked her about joining yet another Marvel series in such a big and important way, and here's what she told me.
I really appreciated it. You know, it was only four episodes, but the necessity of Karen, it wasn't, let's say, a cameo. 'Oh, look! A character in another universe!' Or something like that. They really worked the character in with integrity. And that's all you really want. You want to feel like you're there for a reason, and that this plot wouldn't move forward without you.
I easily would have lost a bet with someone over how many Punisher episodes Karen appeared in, since she has such a presence in the story after first meeting back up with Frank in the early episodes. It's probably because of how prominently Karen features into the episodes (especially the time-shifting Episode 10), and that Deborah Ann Woll got quite a few scenes with characters that weren't Frank. I especially liked watching Karen play crafty when chatting it up with Billy Russo, and I wish that pair of actors had just a couple more scenes together.
In any case, Deborah Ann Woll agreed that it definitely felt like she got more time in The Punisher than she actually did, and said that her time on the set was very satisfying. Throughout the season, we got to watch Karen not only mixing it up with Frank, but also existing within her own element at the New York Bulletin. Viewers know her job played a pretty big role in the story, and in a way that felt very Zodiac Killer, which was not exactly a comparison I'd planned to make with Karen before having watched the season.
Since The Punisher sidestepped showcasing heroes with superpowers and the like, Karen was one of the only relevant characters that could have been used for a big crossover role, with none of the Defenders teammates being quite grounded in reality enough. As well, none of them comes close to having the same kind of emotional connection with Frank. (Rob Morgan's Turk also appears, I know, but he's hardly on the same level.) While describing how Karen's metaphorical disguise fits in with all the other characters, Deborah Ann Woll shared with me why she thinks Frank and Karen work so well together.
I think we're all wearing disguises to some extent. You know, Daredevil may put on a suit and Frank may wear a vest with a skull painted on it, but Karen is distracting you with the pretty blonde smiling girl, and don't look to deep, you know. And I think Madani keeps you at bay with her unapproachable professionalism, and certainly Billy Russo has a whole charade going on. We are all hiding, and we're all trying to pierce each other and get deeper. And I think part of what makes Karen and Frank so special, is they've allowed each other deeper. So that every time we see them with other characters, you go, 'Oh, but they're not showing their whole self,' and that's why it's such a breath of fresh air when they come together, because there's much more of a revelation.
That's quite an interesting way to look at it, considering Karen started off being the good friend and potential love interest of Matt Murdock, who has basically never given Karen 100% in the honesty and transparency department. Granted, she at least now knows Matt is Daredevil, but that displaced trust is always going to be an issue. Although Frank and Karen have some pretty distressing situations in their shared history, too, at least Frank's honesty is as brutal as his plans for vengeance.
The Punisher is currently available to stream in full on Netflix, and it's worth every minute. Check out what showrunner Steve Lightfoot told me about why he wanted the show's violence to feel so real, and then head to our 2017 Netflix schedule and our fall TV premiere schedule to see everything that's yet to debut this year.