Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway has admitted that Jon Bernthal’s acclaimed performance is his favorite version of the character. Frank Castle will be explored deeper than he ever has been on screen in Netflix’s new The Punisher series, which is expected to premiere later this fall. The long-form episodic format will allow Bernthal and the writing team to fully flesh out the ruthless killer that The Punisher has been in his appearances in Daredevil.

Bernthal is far from the first actor to portray the antihero in a film or TV show, however, as Dolph Lundgren became the first with his poorly received starring vehicle in 1989. Thomas Jane didn’t fare much better in a relatively tame 2004 reboot, and Ray Stevenson starred in the 2008 box office disaster Punisher: War Zone. The character has had little to no success on the big screen, which gives the Bernthal-starring TV series a great chance to be the best portrayal yet. Conway apparently agrees.

Related: Punisher Release Date Update: Premiering ‘Later This Fall’ on Netflix

Speaking to Screen Geek at New York Comic Con, Conway admitted that Bernthal’s version of Frank Castle/The Punisher is his favorite performance of them all. He appreciates that Bernthal goes way beneath the vigilante’s rugged exterior and portrays him with an underlying emotional weight that hasn’t been seen in prior depictions.

Punisher actors Thomas Jane Ray Stevenson and Jon Bernthal Punisher Creator Names Jon Bernthal His Favorite Version of the Character

“Jon Bernthal gives The Punisher the kind of pathos that’s underneath the tough guy, and I really like that.”

The new series has the advantage of studying the character of Frank Castle at levels that weren’t achieved (or even attempted) in the three feature films, and the makers certainly seem willing to do so. The show will feature military flashbacks and look at how Castle deals with traumatic experiences and family tragedy. Bernthal has said that Netflix’s version of The Punisher will pull back the curtain on “the other 75 percent of the character” seen in Daredevil and show more of his human side.

The actor has acknowledged that the character of Frank Castle resonated with him, due to the fact that he’s not your typical superhero and that he’s more of a tortured soul who lives in a world of darkness. Castle’s devotion to avenging his family also made Bernthal empathize with the character, but he also did not want to make his performance “too heroic”. Regardless of how the new show is received, it’s clear that Netflix and Bernthal’s The Punisher will be the most complicated edition of the vigilante to date.

It remains to be seen whether the streaming network’s dedication to a more complex, nuanced version of The Punisher will resonate with audiences like the character did with Bernthal. Considering the near-universal acclaim that the former Walking Dead actor garnered for his performance on Daredevil, it wasn’t too hard for Conway to declare him his favorite. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean Netflix and Marvel Studios’ bet on giving the antihero his own show will actually pay off. But the long-term outlook for The Punisher will ultimately hinge on Bernthal’s performance, and it at least appears that the actor was wholly invested and dedicated to the role.

Next: NYCC Replaces Marvel’s Punisher Panel With Stan Lee Documentary

The Punisher has no official release date but is expected out sometime this fall, possibly with a surprise release. We’ll be sure to let you know when more comes out.

Source: Screen Geek

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