Superhero fans who can't contain their eagerness for next week's release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and May's Captain America: Civil War will have at least one way to slake their thirst for the genre in the meantime: Friday will see the hotly-anticipated release of Marvel's Daredevil season 2 to the Netflix streaming service, promising to continue to adventures of Hell's Kitchen's dark defender while introducing fan-favorite characters like Elektra and The Punisher to the ever-growing ranks of The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Will Daredevil season 2 reach the critical and audience acclaim that greeted the first season and Marvel's subsequent Netflix offering, Jessica Jones? We'll know soon enough. Until then, a new featurette has dropped online, featuring an extended look at the series conception of Jon Bernthal's vigilante Frank Castle, aka The Punisher.
In addition to letting the show's actors speak to their characters' meaning to them personally, the new Daredevil featurette offers fans the closest look yet at this new imagining of The Punisher - one which may be the grittiest version yet of a character whose entire conception was built around being a level removed from other more conventional superheroes by virtue of his no-nosense approach to violence and crime-fighting. Says Bernthal of his iconic character:
"This is an evolution of The Punisher. I dove into this show and I fell in love with this world, with how dangerous it was. It was a world I desperately wanted to play in.
"He's not a villain, he's not a superhero, he's just trying to make people pay for what they've done."
Elsewhere in the Daredevil featurette, characters refer to The Punisher as "a grim reaper" and respond with palpable shock when informed that the violence being unleashed on New York's gangland is the work of only one man and not an entire army. Elsewhere, characters wonder whether or not The Punisher is a natural outgrowth of Daredevil himself (Charlie Cox) having introduced a vigilante element to his community. Adds Bernthal:
"Daredevil's brand of justice is ridiculous to Frank, and yet he's such a worthy adversary."
Previously portrayed in solo feature-film ventures starring Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson, none of which were particularly successful at the box-office, The Punisher has been one of the most demanded characters among Marvel fans ever since rights to the character were reclaimed by the studio some years ago. While the decidedly R-rated character would likely be an awkward fit for the thus-far family friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe, (the most recent film, Lexi Alexander's Punisher: Warzone, is regarded as one of the most explicitly-violent modern films to get a theatrical release), he'd seem to fit right in with the studio's more extreme Netflix output.
Created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr in a 1974 issue of Spider-Man, The Punisher originated as an attempt by Marvel to add a heavily-armed vigilante urban-vigilante character like those popular at the time via movies like Death Wish and paperback action novels (most notably Don Pendleton's Mac Bolan: The Executioner) to their comics universe as a deliberate contrast to the exploits of the superhero set. Originally presented as a villain, the character became increasingly popular as comics aimed at an older market became more mainstream throughout the '80s and '90s, ultimately becoming one of Marvel's most merchandisable and enduring figures. While it remains to be see whether audiences will fall similarly in love with Bernthal's interpretation, Marvel Studios already appears to be impressed: Talk of the character potentially receiving a spin-off series of his own began to circulate before Daredevil had even finished shooting.
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 on September 30th, 2016. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist, and The Defenders on Netflix have not yet been announced.