Fans of Marvel’s Netflix shows have been hit with one devastating news headline after the other in the past couple of weeks as the streaming service has been cleaning house and cutting any original series with ties to Disney. The streaming war has heated up recently as Disney has announced its own streaming service called Disney+, on which they will air their own Marvel shows.
From a business standpoint, this cancellation might have made sense, but from a creative standpoint, it’s a great shame. Here are 8 dangerous Punisher villains we’ll never get to see after Netflix canceled the show.
There are a couple of incarnations of the Hitman character in Marvel Comics, but the one that could’ve been adapted well for television is Burt Kenyon. Kenyon served with Frank in Vietnam and saved his life, so they go on with their lives after the war in a situation where Frank owes him big-time. And then he becomes a villain and Frank is torn.
Swap Vietnam for Afghanistan and the exact same dynamic could’ve been translated to the screen. Given the Netflix show’s focus on Frank’s military past and his relationship with his brothers in arms, this one would’ve been a no-brainer.
7 Mr. Payback
Sometimes, the most interesting villains are the ones who aren’t necessarily bad guys. If you can sympathize with their side of things, it adds a new angle to the conflict. Mr. Payback is a vigilante who goes after corrupt corporate bigwigs to protect the working class. For all intents and purposes, he’s a pretty good guy – but he’s an enemy of the Punisher.
Mr. Payback would’ve made an interesting parallel to Billy Russo, who is unequivocally a bad guy (and then didn’t remember the terrible things he did when he re-emerged as Jigsaw). Also, similarly to Russo, he has a lot in common with Frank.
This Manhattan gangster was one step ahead of Frank Castle from the beginning. He heard that the infamous Punisher was coming for him, and rather than just wait around for him like a sitting duck, he came at him with a pre-emptive attack. Of course, the pre-emptive attack didn’t work – he and his men went after Frank’s Battle Van and its automated defense system killed them all and trapped Damage inside it.
So, he was captured by the Punisher as quickly as he had come onto his radar. However, shortly afterward, he was rebuilt as a cyborg who looked just like Frank Castle – that’s what would’ve made him a great villain on the show.
5 The Russian
We might know Frank Castle as an incredibly strong character who can beat any foe into submission within a couple of minutes, but there was once one villain who managed to be a physical match for him, and his name was the Russian.
He crushed a guy by accident and he eliminated an entire Bravo Force team by himself and he once ripped a toilet out of the floor and smacked Frank Castle over the head with it. It’s safe to say that the Netflix series could’ve gotten plenty of its signature visceral fight scenes out of this iconic character.
In Ben Affleck’s 2003 Daredevil movie, Colin Farrell played a cartoonish version of the iconic comic book villain Bullseye. He stood up on his seat while riding a motorcycle and killed an old lady with a peanut. However, in the third season of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil series – which Netflix also canceled – Wilson Bethel played the role as a dangerous psychopath.
He played the role in the show as menacing as he is in the comics. We saw him square off against the Man Without Fear, so it would’ve been interesting to see him take on another of his foes from the comics next: the Punisher.
3 Lady Gorgon
Jon Bernthal’s incarnation of the Punisher has shown great respect for women over the show’s two seasons. He chastised Lewis for hurting Karen Page and he protected that bartender from a drunken perv in the season 2 premiere. So, it would’ve been interesting to see him eventually have to face a female villain. Lady Gorgon is a telepath who is introduced into the comics when Jigsaw hires her to assassinate the Punisher.
She would’ve needed to be introduced into the show in a different way, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t have appeared at all. She’s as skilled at using guns and knives as Frank himself – if not even more – and she also has the distinction of being able to use a samurai sword, too. Lady Gorgon is often affiliated with the Hand, so this would’ve tied her into Netflix’s Marvel-verse (if that still existed).
Hood was created by Y: The Last Man’s Brian K. Vaughan almost two decades ago and his superpowers are a little out there for the gritty realism of Netflix’s Marvel-verse. Having said that, this universe does contain the magical powers of the Iron Fist, as well as Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s super strength, so maybe the writers could’ve found a way to make it work.
Hood is a brilliantly dark villain, having acquired his powers of hovering and invisibility from a demon he stole a magical hood and boots from. The clash of the superpower-less Frank and the flying fantasy creature Hood would’ve been interesting to explore.
A hulking, frightening man, Barracuda is a feared crime figure in the Punisher’s world. He even snorted cocaine off a severed head following a bloodbath once – brutal stuff. There was a parallel universe version of Barracuda who was hired by the Parents Music Resource Center to assassinate Eminem and Frank Castle came to the Detroit rapper’s aid.
Adapting that storyline for the screen might sound like a silly idea to wrap your head around, but it might not be so far-fetched. Given Eminem’s outspoken defense of The Punisher and critique of Netflix for canceling it, he’s clearly a fan, so the producers might’ve been able to get him on the show. Imagine seeing this adapted for the screen.