Later this month, Netflix will premiere The Punisher, the next series in its ever-expanding corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The string of grittier shows has taken a street-level approach to superheroes and comic book characters and through its success (and one floppy-haired misstep) managed to have its very own Avengers-like crossover earlier this year with The Defenders. The gathering of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist was enough to warrant an eight-episode event series, but it wasn’t the first time otherwise disparate heroes joined forces against a common foe: the Man Without Fear had a tenuous team-up with Frank Castle that more or less greenlit the gun-toting vigilante’s solo series.
Daredevil season 2 was an effective backdoor pilot for The Punisher; it got a lot out of the way in terms of introducing the character and demonstrating how he functions in the streaming MCU. The solo series, however, will expand on the world of Frank Castle in ways that explores both his backstory and those with whom he associates in his ongoing war on crime. Part of that will come in the form of Daredevil’s Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), but it will also mean introducing his pal from the comics, Microchip.
Girls actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach portrays the Punisher’s tech-savvy colleague in the series, and while talking with Screen Rant about HBO’s Tokyo Project, his recent short film co-starring recent Emmy-winner Elisabeth Moss that was written and directed by Richard Shepard (Girls, The Matador). Moss-Bachrach shared some insight into his role in the comic book drama, how the character will differ from his illustrated counterpart, and what it means to join the massive Marvel universe:
“People keep warning me and saying how crazy it’s going to be. I guess I’ll know more when it airs but it’s exciting. Girls is interesting because I started working on [that series] when it had already become kind of a very important cultural piece and had it’s own huge kind of significance. So I was walking into the thing knowing kind of what it was and that was really exciting. Marvel is obviously a huge institution and certainly The Punisher is a very anticipated show and people know about it already from Daredevil and from Jon portraying that character [in Daredevil season 2]. So I’m excited.”
As far as his interpretation of the character, Moss-Bachrach says there will be obvious changes from the comics, but also there will be much more of the character’s backstory than comic readers may be familiar with:
“I kept going back and forth because there is a huge [fan base] and it’s very important to Marvel and also important to me to kind of honor the character. And it’s cool to play a guy who’s from comic books. You don’t want to just come in just sort of play it completely different and throw it all out, but he has been modified and there’s more of a backstory. We know more about this character in the series. We learn more about him, which is a departure from the comic. So I had to kind of create it on my own terms. I also look very different than they way the guy is in the comics. Already there’s like a distance, but I’m really just hoping that it’s less of a substitution and more of a building and an expansion, because that was our aim. Sort of taking the man in the chair and fill in where he’s coming from a bit more.”
Playing Frank Castle’s co-conspirator will be an interesting change of pace for the actor, who spent the last few years bringing Desi, the memorably hilarious nightmare of a person to life on Lena Dunham’s long-running series. His most recent role opposite Moss, as a man trying to find his way back from extreme personal loss in Tokyo Project makes for an interesting midway point in the transition from troubled, eccentric musician on Girls to the brand new take on a comic character that’s been around since the late ’80s.
As far as updates to characters go, it’s unlikely too many will have an objection to Moss-Bachrach changing Microchip from a middle-aged man-in-the-chair in blue light-blocking glasses to this new iteration. And who knows, with Moss-Bachrach in the role, maybe Microchip will become the series’ standout character.
The Punisher premieres Friday, November 17 on Netflix. Ebon Moss-Bachrach can currently be seen in Tokyo Project on HBO, HBO GO, and HBO Now.
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