Jon Bernthal makes his season two debut as fellow crime fighting vigilante Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. But The Punisher is the antithesis of Daredevil's "the good superhero" ethic. The former US marine is driven by pure rage following the death of his wife and two children at the hands of the mob. The Punisher's sole motivation is vengeance – and he doesn't care too much about morality. There have been three previous movie adaptations of The Punisher, starting with 1989's Dolph Lundgren portrayal, but none has really hit the spot so far. From what we've seen of Daredevil season 2, audiences may have finally received The Punisher they deserve.
What Jon Bernthal says:
I love this character. When I got the job I just knew really broad strokes about him, but since then I’ve been going to every comic-book store to get my hands on every issue and reading voraciously. I’ve really fallen in love with the character. I think it would be impossible to take on this role without being a husband and a father first. You need to understand that thing of loving other people completely in order to understand this man’s hatred and rage. It all starts there.
I love what they've done with this show. It really is an elevated genre piece. It's like when I was in The Walking Dead [Bernthal played Shane Walsh from 2010-2012], they said: "OK, this is a zombie piece, but let's make it about a man, let's make a zombie piece for the Madmen and Breaking Bad audience," and that's what they're doing here with a superhero piece. It's dark, it's gritty, it's honest. I love the format of Netflix, I can take a character like Frank Castle and really dive in – 13 episodes all delivered at once means you can be bold enough to almost turn your back on the audience and dive in without having to think: "Are we going to be able to associate with this guy, or are they going to hate him so much we'll never get him back?"
What I loved about this was the opportunity to try to make an audience hate me, then try to win them back without any half measures like: “Ah, you did something kind of bad.” I can really just go for it. Frank Castle is damaged and dangerous and living in a nightmare. He’s a man who is no longer concerned at all with morality or right and wrong. He’s not there to rid Hell’s Kitchen from the criminal element, he doesn’t want to help the community, he’s out there to find the people responsible for the death of his family and to kill them in the most brutal way possible. That is his mission and if you get in the way of that, you’re in trouble.
That’s who the guy is that we find in this season. His only relief from the nightmare he lives in, his only respite, is when he’s hurting people. That’s all he’s about. The way that other characters such as Daredevil come in and penetrate his walls is what’s fascinating about the series, and it’s those interactions that ultimately make The Punisher what The Punisher is by the end of the series and give him a way to go forward.