Netflix and Marvel made huge waves when they first announced their partnership in 2013. At that time they announced an ambitious plan to launch four separate shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist), which would all culminate in the superhero team-up mini-series event, The Defenders.
It appears that there is fluidity to their planning, as Jon Bernthal blew people away (literally) as troubled military vet, Frank Castle aka The Punisher, in the second season of Daredevil. Immediately, his take on the character became iconic and it was clear that he would have to return in some form. Well, Marvel/Netflix took it one step farther by ordering him his own solo series to debut on the streaming service.
Filming is now underway on The Punisher Netflix series, as set photos recently began to surface of Bernthal sporting a grisly beard in the streets of New York. However, little was known about the supporting cast or plot of the show - until now. Marvel has officially confirmed that Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls), Ben Barnes (Westworld), and Amber Rose Revah (Son of God) are playing key roles in season 1 of The Punisher.
Here is a statement on the casting news from The Punisher executive producer and show-runner, Steven Lightfoot (Hannibal):
“I’m really excited about the cast we’re assembling alongside Bernthal as Frank Castle. I look forward to watching Ben, Ebon and Amber embody these characters and breathe vivid life into the story we are crafting for this season of ‘Marvel’s The Punisher.'”
Moss-Bachrach will be taking on the role of Micro, or Microchip, in The Punisher. The character is described as a NSA analyst who will be an ally to Castle. EW explains that Micro's "secrets may be of great value to Frank Castle and everyone around them.” In the comics, David Linus Lieberman, aka Microchip, served as Castle's right-hand man and served as a second set of eyes from his home base. He's also an expert hacker and gunsmith, who supplies the Punisher with a majority of his advanced assault weaponry.
At the conclusion of Daredevil season 2, Castle found his own armory of advanced assault weapons, so it's unclear if Micro will still be needed in that context. However, from the looks of the recent set pictures, it seems that Castle is keeping under the radar and perhaps Micro can help him in public places and with his technological expertise. It also should be mentioned that in recent runs of the comics, Micro has evolved into an adversary and thorn in Castle's side. So it should be interesting to see if they will play with the character's duplicitous nature.
Perhaps the most high profile name added to the cast is Barnes, who will be taking on the role of Billy Russo. The character is described by TVLine as "Frank’s best friend from his days in the Special Forces. Billy runs a successful private military corporation called Anvil." We know that Castle has an intense military backstory that involves betrayals that set him on his path to becoming the lethal vigilante, so it's clear that Barnes will have an important part to play in the series' first season.
Revah, meanwhile, will be playing Dinah Madani: a character on The Punisher described as a “highly-trained sophisticated Homeland Security agent who is vexed by the Punisher.” It sounds as this will be an agent tracking the criminal activities of Castle and perhaps she finds out that he is more complex than he may seem.
While the Punisher is a "hero" that typically operates on his own, it's clear that Lightfoot is looking to surround Bernthal with dynamic talent. It's unclear, though, what the larger plot or the direction will be for Castle's first television series. However, Marvel/Netflix have proven that they understand implicitly how to build the world around their heroes, to give them the best opportunity to succeed. There surely is much more to come.
Daredevil season 1 & 2, Jessica Jones season 1, and Luke Cage season 1 are now available on Netflix. Iron Fist season 1 arrives on March 17th, 2017. The Defenders and The Punisher arrive in 2017. Release dates for Jessica Jones season 2 and Daredevil season 3 have not yet been announced.