With the Marvel Universe expanding and comic book characters being brought into television, it should only be a matter of time before we see one of Marvel's most (in)famous characters: The Punisher. Yes, The Punisher, one of my favorite characters in Marvel due to his heroic past in the military, his mission, and being relatively human compared to other comic book characters like [Daredevil](series:1168702), Spider Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, ect. But the question is who should be the man to play "The Skull". First off, we must establish who he is. Born in New York to parents of Italian ancestry, Francis Castiglione is a former U.S. Marine Captain. Before Frank joined the Marines, he was studying to become a Catholic priest but changed his mind because he was unable to forgive those who did evil. Also prior to his enlistment, he married his wife Maria who was already pregnant with their first child. During his time in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), Castle graduated from Basic Training, then went on to Infantry School. Immediately following that, he went through the USMC's Reconnaissance, Force Reconnaissance, and Sniper Schools. Attaining dockets, Castle was permitted to go through U.S. Army Airborne School, and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team training, becoming qualified as a Navy Seal (Sea, Air and Land). He served in the Vietnam War in a special forces unit as a point man. For heroism in the line of duty, he was decorated with numerous medals, including the Purple Heart. Shortly after a tour in Vietnam, Castle, his wife, Maria and their children were in New York's Central Park for an afternoon picnic when they witnessed a Mafia gangland execution; an informant had been hanged from a tree. Seeking to eliminate all witnesses, the Costa crime family murdered them on the spot. However, Castle survived. Even though Frank was able to identify all of the shooters the police were unable to help Castle in his quest for justice; they were tied in too deeply to the powerful Costa family. He decided that the only punishment criminals might receive is that of physical destruction. Shortly thereafter, he emblazoned his body armor with a symbol of a death's head, and exacted his revenge. Since then he has waged a one-man war upon crime, taking the name [The Punisher](movie:1007544). In his vigilante endeavors, Castle has crossed paths with several costumed crime-fighters, most notably Spider-Man and Daredevil. These encounters have often resulted in his incarceration. While he is known to be significantly inferior to Daredevil in hand-to-hand combat skills, Punisher has been rated as one of the most dangerous criminals alive. When he was incarcerated in New York's Riker's Island Prison, though heavily outnumbered in gang-fights, Punisher has routinely killed armed, homicidal criminals with frightening ease, sustaining no injury. Due to his proficiency in fighting, he is rarely so accosted in prison environments. Adhering to his military philosophies, Punisher is constantly training whenever he is not out on actual maneuvers. He exercises fanatically to maintain his impressive physical conditioning and sticks to a balanced diet whenever possible. Now let's get to the casting.
Karl Urban has played many badass and masculine characters like Eomer in the last two Lord of the Rings trilogy, Vaako in the Riddick series, Reaper in Doom, Kirill in Bourne: Supremacy (shown above), William Cooper in Red, McCoy in the Star Trek series, and recently Judge Dredd in Dredd. Urban is from New Zealand, is 6'1, and is around 205 pounds. Along with his chiseled face, grave voice, and body structure, Urban is a great choice as Castle. The only problem many people would have with Karl playing Frank is that he played Dredd (and may keep playing that role should there be a sequel, which he was awesome in that role).
Another fan cast favorite for the role of Castle is Liev Schreiber, who has played badasses like Sabretooth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (unfortunately, that movie flopped), Ray Donovan in Ray Donovan, Ted Winters in Salt, and Frank in Repo Men. Standing 6'3, weighing 195 pounds, and having a chiseled figure and face, Liev is another badass choice for this role. He is married to Naomi Watts, who could play Maria Castle. However, Liev tends to be in some hit-and-miss films (more hit, than miss).
Gerard Butler is a very popular actor that had many roles dating from the late 90s, but was thrown into popularity when he played the badass Spartan leader Leonidas in 300. He went on to be in movies like RocknRolla, Gamer, Olympus Has Fallen (and its upcoming sequel London Has Fallen), Machine Gun Preacher, Coriolanus, and Law Abiding Citizen (which his character could be an inspiration for playing Castle). Standing 6'2 and weighing 190 pounds, Butler could be the Frank Castle we want. However, his Scottish accent might cause some viewers to question the authenticity of his portrayal (I feel that he could work through it, and the first Punisher was played by Dolph Lundgren in 1989, but that is another story).
Kevin Durand (NOT the NBA player!), one of Hollywood's most underrated big guy actors that people know the face, but not the name (that is changing with every role he takes). He's played many roles like Bazooka Marksman Joe in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Neo-Nazi Jeeves Tremor in Smokin' Aces, Gabriel in Legion, Little John in Robin Hood, Barry Burton in Resident Evil: Retribution, Tucker in 3:10 to Yuma, Vasily Fet in The Strain, Martin Keamy in Lost, and Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Overall, let's forget that movie happened). Standing 6'6 and weighs 240 pounds, there aren't many more imposing actors without going with many Pro Wrestlers. Durand is easily one of my favorite actors today. Unfortunately, he tends to be in a few bad films. And being the size he is, there aren't many other actors that could make him seem small, and there are other characters he could play like Bushwacker or characters in the DC series like Bane or Deathstroke. Also look out for him in Vikings this February on History Channel, he plays The Wanderer, a mysterious man that isn't all he appears to be.
Clive Standen is more than likely the Darkhorse on this list, which is understandable. As of now, he is playing the badass that is Rollo on the badass show that is Vikings. In his teens Clive was an international Muay Thai champion. He was also born on a military base and disassemble/reassemble a M16 rifle in under a minute. He stands 6'2 and more than likely weighs close to 200 pounds. Being a big guy, a Muay Thai champion, and having his gun skills, would make him great as Castle. However, he is mostly known to American audiences for his role in Vikings. Not many people know who he is and more than likely wouldn't pay to see a relatively unknown actor (yet, people went to see Thor and Chris Hemsworth was also a relatively unknown actor at that point).
Scott Adkins is another choice that could be great for playing Castle. He's been in many kickass roles. Bourne Ultimatum, Undisputed 2 and 3, the Ninja films, Metal Hurlant Chronicles, Expendables 2, and Assassination Games are a few movies/shows he's done. He was originally a stuntman and is a martial arts master, so he wouldn't be afraid of being physical. However, there are many other comic book characters he could play, like, Iron Fist, Kraven the Hunter, Deathstroke, and Bullseye. But he's mostly been in straight-to-dvd films and not many well reviewed films. And he is 5'10-5'11 and weighs 170-185 pounds. Not exactly the size of Frank Castle, but he could more than likely pull it off. Hopefully he got a different manager after Hercules: The Legend Begins.
Norman Reedus, I'm pretty sure I don't need to say much about him. Boondock Saints (another badass vigilante film series), [The Walking Dead](series:201193), Blade 2, Silent Hill, ect. He's a badass. He even voiced Frank in the animated film Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore. However, he's 5'10 and 158 pounds, which is smaller than Adkins. Also he's probably really busy with Walking Dead and other projects.
The previous Punisher actors have been Dolph Lundgren (Punisher, 1989). He didn't have the skull, which defines who he is as a vigilante. Thomas Jane (Punisher, 2004, Dirty Laundry, 2012). Jane was definitely the fan favorite. Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone, 2008). Fit the size compared to TJ, but not everyone enjoyed him.