Television, What to Watch
Jun 9, 2015

JON BERNTHAL IS MARVEL’S NEW PUNISHER

The success of Marvel’s Netflix-exclusive series Daredevil has already granted the blind lawyer superhero a second season. And with it, in keeping in step with the cinematic universe, Marvel is trying to connect as much of its characters as possible – after all, New York is only so big, and it’s only a matter of time before they will run into each other.

In this case, Daredevil will soon be coming face to face with gun-toting anti-hero The Punisher, and he will be played by Jon Bernthal, known best for his work on AMC’s The Walking Dead and Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. With this announcement comes the two inevitable questions: What kind of overall presence and impact will the Punisher have, and is Bernthal a good casting choice. While the former is likely not to be known until the new season commences in 2016, the latter should be met with an emphatic yes.

The first reason might seem the most flimsy, but it’s the first one you’re likely to notice; Jon has the look of the character. The Punisher, for the uninitiated, is a tragic character. He lost his family to gang violence, and is now striking back, punishing all of the guilty by any means necessary. He is a well-trained mercenary character, but to look in his eyes is to see more than just vengeful rage, but also a savvy battle tactician and pained man who misses his loved ones.

Between his roles in Fury (battle hardened veteran), The Walking Dead (dealt with a large share of tragedy), and Wolf of Wall Street (savvy with a good sense of street smarts), he has the role down from a visual perspective.

However, the look doesn’t necessarily mean he is a good fit – a strong example here is Tyler Mane from X-Men’s first movie. To say Bernthal wouldn’t be good for the role at this point is to call in to question his abilities as an actor, and from everything I’ve personally seen him in,  including bit parts in How I Met Your Mother and Law and Order: Criminal Intent, there is nothing to suggest that. Secondly, his previous body of work is, at least, similar in scope to what the Punisher would call for, so it’s not a stretch for Grady Travis to do this with a different kind of gun in his hands.

At the end of the day, the Punisher’s appearance in the Daredevil universe is completely inevitable. After all, you have a lawyer operating to catch what the law misses, and you have the Punisher, who doesn’t deal with the law at all and just takes matters into his own hands. They are both dark characters, but not necessarily brooding.

At this point, Frank Castle could be played by anyone and have it be a decent fit so long as the writing is good enough. Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin is testament to that. Provided the character is well written, virtually anyone could do well with the role. Calling on Jon Bernthal is a natural choice, and I, with many others, will anxiously anticipate the coming second season of Daredevil come next year.