The Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong since the debut of Daredevil in April 2015 and the equally acclaimed Jessica Jones series that followed last November. The fan reaction to this exciting new addition to the MCU has been resoundingly positive, mostly due to the in-depth and realistic nature of the characters and the serious tone in which these Netflix shows have been produced.
There is likely no one as serious in the annals of Marvel Comics history than Frank Castle, aka The Punisher (Jon Bernthal). The second season of Netflix's Daredevil looks to amount to "Daredevil vs. The Punisher" and Netflix/Marvel has unveiled another poster teasing just that, along with an interview with Bernathal where he discusses getting into the anti-hero's dark mindset.
The poster, pictured below, features Frank Castle standing in the shadows, holding the red horned mask to Daredevil's costume, a smoking bullet-hole in the middle of the mask. The image is a still shot taken from the recently-released promo for Daredevil season 2. Meanwhile, Marvel has posted an in-depth interview with Bernthal about the nature of Frank Castle and the dark headspace that he had to master in order to bring life to The Punisher:
"Well, I think that, fortunately and unfortunately, a dark headspace is nothing new to me. I have some experience with it in the characters that I’ve gotten to play and each one is so different and each one, I think, sort of requires its own process and its own method to get involved [in]. I will say that being a father and being a father of young kids, it’s a real game-changer for me. With a character like this, the trauma that he’s suffering from and what this man has gone through, I’m extremely grateful that this opportunity came to me after I was a father. I think it’s essential in playing the part and understanding what it would mean to fail your family in that way and to lose your family on your watch and how serious that is."
Comic book readers will recall that when the Punisher made his fateful debut back in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #129, he was quite the villain. He was portrayed as an assasin and those dark origins managed to stay with the character throughout the years in all of his various comic book, cartoon and live action incarnations. There has been a lot of speculation about which direction Bernthal will be taking the character, whether it will be an old school version or remiscent of the more modern (and even darker) Garth Ennis take. It appears as though the latter will be the case, judging by the nods to Ennis' comic book work in the Daredevil season 2 promos released to date.
Bernthal has also touched upon the complicated relationship between Castle and Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) in Daredevil season 2:
"Look, I think what makes this show so special is what Charlie’s done with Matt and with Daredevil; what he’s done with that is highly unique and they did not want a guy playing just another super hero. I mean, he’s created a fully realized, fully nuanced character and I think that’s what you need to do with Frank Castle as well. So yes, I think both these men have gone through real trauma in their lives and they’re out for justice in their own very, very unique and different ways.
"A big part of Matt Murdock is he needs to be one very bad day away from being Frank Castle. That’s the crux of their conflict: “You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know what I’m all about. Get out of my way.” And this sort of concern for the greater good is something that I think is secondary to this man at this point. What’s interesting is you find these two characters that are so alike and so different and then when they collide, they just learn from each other."
Clearly, though the two will be at odds with each other when Daredevil season 2 begins, they may eventually learn that there is a need for each of them - and find a point of reconcilliation that will allow them to work together towards the greater good. Murdock may well need to experience a deep loss to understand Castle better... and Castle will need to regain some of his humanity from Murdock.
Fortunately, fans need only wait just over three more weeks to find the answers to these questions and to finally experience the first fully fleshed-out live action version of The Punisher, a role that Bernthal is thankfully taking very seriously. Daredevil will most certainly have his hands full, between dealing with The Punisher and the return of the deadly and seductive Elektra (Elodie Yung) in his life.
Daredevil season 1 and Jessica Jones season 1 are now available on Netflix. Daredevil season 2 will debut on Netflix on March 18th, 2016, followed by Luke Cage season 1 later in 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced. A Punisher spin-off is also in development.