Marvel's #ThePunisher, starring Jon Bernthal, is currently filming. So far, the project had been a mystery, with the only real piece of information being Ben Barnes' casting as Billy Russo. But with the project being fast-tracked Marvel officially announced the series would arrive some time in 2017, along with three key characters and their actors.
The Cast So Far
Of course, we know Bernthal will be reprising his role as Frank Castle/The Punisher, but some other major players have also been placed on the board. They are:
Billy Russo/Jigsaw - Ben Barnes
Where you've seen him before:
- Prince Caspian in the Narnia movies
- Dorian Gray in Dorian Gray
- Sam Adams in the Sons of Liberty miniseries
- Logan in Westworld
Frank Castle's best friend from his war days that runs a successful corporation called "Anvil," played by Ben Barnes.
David Linus Lieberman/Microchip or "Micro" - Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Where you've seen him before:
- Niels in The Last Ship
- Desi Harperin in Girls
- Nick Salenger in Damages
A former National Security Agency analyst who was a few helpful secrets for Frank Castle, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
Dinah Madani - Amber Rose Revah
Where you've seen her before:
- Mary Magdalene in The Bible miniseries
- Maacah Bat-Talmai in Borgia
- Leena in the Indian Summers miniseries
A new character, Dinah is a Homeland Security agent angry at The Punisher; she will be played by Amber Rose Revah.
The character details seem simple enough: The usual announcement to get us ready for the series. But we are comic book fans; we don't work like that. We know these descriptions could be hinting at where The Punisher will go, so let's speculate, shall we?
Who Are These Characters In The Comics?
Microchip and Billy Russo are two very important pieces of The Punisher's mythology. Interestingly, both of them end up turning on Frank Castle. They've appeared in dozens of comic books so it's a bit complicated to pinpoint the exact storyline the series could be using for inspiration but, fortunately, we do have a few prospects
In the comics, Micro was a genius hacker and weapons designer who used his skills to scam businesses. However, after one of his scams went awry, he settled for a more quiet life as a business man. But, after the murder of his nephew, he started working with Frank Castle in his war against crime by providing him with weapons and vehicles. Micro was one of the few characters Frank Castle tolerated, so that speaks very highly of his personality.
Billy Russo made a name for himself as an assassin for the mob. Bruno Costa, an enforcer for the Costa Family, hired Russo to kill Frank Castle, therefore stopping him from coming after them for the murder of his family. However, Billy's assassination attempt on Castle was actually the catalyst that encouraged him to become The Punisher. Castle then tracked Russo down and disfigured his face, creating the mobster's infamous "Jigsaw" persona. Jigsaw is an extremely unstable, twisted and violent individual and one of the worst adversaries The Punisher has encountered.
As you can see, their comic book backstories don't really align with the description Marvel released of them. This begs the question:
How Will Their Comic Book Storylines Be Translated Into The Series?
In the show, Billy Russo will be Frank Castle's best friend and runs the Anvil Corporation. Russo is destined to become Jigsaw, one of Punisher's toughest and scariest foes. So what if his criminal activity begins with his company? Could he be using it as a front for illegal operations? The series is obviously taking a very different approach to Billy Russo so, could it be that, because of his criminal activities, Punisher is the one who goes after him?
Their relationship will almost certainly be the usual "friend turned adversary" (think Peter Parker/Harry Osborn) but the real question is: Will we see this transformation in Season 1 or later? Someone as twisted as him doesn't turn in an instant; he must have signs. What if his time in the war made him that unstable? So far, Marvel's Netflix shows have proven to be as much of an origin story for the villains as for the heroes, so I suspect that, just like with many of the other villains, we'll see the clear seeds of his villainy and predilection for amorality all throughout the season.
Micro will be a former NSA analyst. When we last saw Frank Castle, he took a disc labeled "Micro" from his home and left. Why would The Punisher have something that concerns another person? It's possible that Frank already knows Micro from his days as a soldier.
Maybe the analyst was the one responsible for giving information on new missions and, knowing that he's retired from working with the government, Frank recruits him for his war on criminals. The question now becomes: Will he be portrayed as a loyal character or will his dark side get the better of him just like in the comics?
Since she was created for the show, it's easier to speculate on what she'll be doing as there aren't 30 years of comic books behind her. She's described as being "vexed by The Punisher" and if comic book movies and TV shows have taught us anything, it's that male and female characters who hate each other in the beginning usually end up having romantic chemistry.
Perhaps Dinah will be angry at The Punisher because of his murderous methods as she doesn't agree with killing and will spend the majority of the first season hunting him down. But, as the show progresses, she understands what Frank Castle is doing and maybe even falls for him. As you can see, this approach is incredibly predictable so hopefully we get a different dynamic between Dinah and The Punisher that avoids the usual romantic dynamic we've already seen so many times in superhero movies.
- Why 'The Punisher' Is A Gamble For Marvel Netflix
- Where Does The Punisher Belong In A World Full Of Superheroes?
- Jon Bernthal Explains The Philosophy Of Violence That Ties His Characters Together
Going by the character descriptions, it's clear that Marvel's The Punisher is taking things in a very different direction from the comics. They're using the essence of the character but so far, it seems the show will focus on setting up Frank Castle's twisted world for future seasons.
Therefore it's good that they're looking for a new approach to their characters. While I'm a bit hesitant to once again get the tired superhero plot point of a friend turning into an adversary, the possibilities of Micro being a former analyst for the NSA get me really excited for the type of storylines the show will be able to tackle. We'll just have to wait and see how it's handled.
Marvel has confirmed The Punisher will hit Netflix sometime in 2017.
Do you think there's a specific comic book storyline the seres is taking inspiration from?