Netflix’s The Punisher solo series will explore the “human side” of Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, it’s been revealed. The show will pick up after Frank’s memorable introduction in Daredevil season 2, where the character’s tragic backstory – losing his family in a park-based gang shootout – was established in a brutal fashion.
Building on that grim groundwork, The Punisher will expand Frank’s world in numerous ways: the show will feature connections to The Defenders, and an appearance from Rob Morgan’s recurring Marvel/Netflix character Turk Barrett. Frank will also uncover a conspiracy (as a recent synopsis revealed) and get to drive his iconic Battle Van from the comics. Plus, Ebon Moss-Bachrach will play a new character named Micro, who will offer Frank some tech support.
But, perhaps most interestingly of all, fans will get to see a more human side to Frank Castle in this solo show. Speaking to SFX Magazine (via CBR), The Punisher showrunner Steve Lightfoot has teased that fans are about to see new elements of Frank’s personality:
“You saw him in Daredevil, where he is pretty brutal and pretty dark. But on that show he was always on a mission. You only got to see 25% of who he was, and it was the guy who was always killing. He was an antagonist, not the protagonist. We carry on in a way that fans of the character will be satisfied by, but we’re also showing the other 75% of the character, enriching him and making the human side more present.”
“In Daredevil, he was a guy with a very simple agenda, which was revenge,” Lightfoot added. “And that was used to highlight Matt Murdock’s dilemmas. In this show, we’ve had to give him dilemmas of his own. With any show, even if it’s about superheroes or whatever, you have to find things that normal people will identify with, that are everyman qualities.”
Frank is more into bloodletting than your average everyman protagonist, but this approach still makes a lot of sense. A show centered around a remorseless raging killer might get dull after a while, but by including this more relatable side to his personality, Lightfoot will surely make Frank’s adventures more palatable and watchable.
“I’ve never been a Special Forces guy who kills 50 people, but I do know what it’s like to grieve,” Lightfoot admitted, before elaborating on where Frank’s more emotional side stems from:
“At heart, you’ve got a very tough guy who isn’t necessarily great at showing is feelings, having at some point to deal with the loss of his family. And that’s something everyone can identify with. We can empathize with that, if not the actions it leads to.”
Sensible as this character-expanding storytelling sounds, there is an argument to made to the contrary: The Punisher is a beloved character because of his flair for violence, so Marvel/Netflix will have to stay to true to that - by spilling a lot of blood - in order to keep fans on board. Hopefully, the balance between bullets and emotions will be handled well.
The Punisher is expected to arrive online this winter.