The long-awaited announcement that Jon Bernthal would return as Frank Castle in his own The Punisher series has finally arrived, and now let's get cracking on figuring out just who has even a little bit of a chance against him in that series.
This scene illustrates one of the main problems with the Punisher. Y'see, with Daredevil we get excited at the appearance of Kingpin or Bullseye. With The Flash we get excited at the appearance of Reverse Flash or Gorilla Grodd. The Marvel Netflix shows boast not only a great hero, but also a great villain. Consistently. Do you see the problem yet? The Punisher keeps killing all of his damn villains! How can you have an archenemy if you keep murdering everyone who opposes you? While this is also one of the best things about Frank Castle, it does make it difficult to compile a list of potential villains. But let's see what we can do:
1. The Russian
The Russian is an interesting character because he was originally your run-of-the-mill master assassin who was sent after Frank Castle by the Gnucci Family, a Mafia-style clan in New York City. However, when Frank (inevitably) murdered the Russian, it wasn't long before a paramilitary group experimented on his body and revived him with the added fun of superhuman strength and resistance to almost any type of injury. The fun of this is that, if sent after Frank in Season 1 of the show, the Russian could be defeated and brought back stronger in a later season. It also allows for the small-screen introduction of the Gnucci Family, which makes for more villains to oppose Frank. The shot above is of Kevin Nash portraying the Russian against Thomas Jane's Frank Castle in The Punisher (2004).
Frank Castle is a pretty serious guy. Throw in an even more serious villain and you have an incredibly serious show. If you want to inject something a little different, then you could bring in Barracuda. The weird thing about him isn't the great physical strength, endurance, fighting ability or high intelligence, but his optimistic attitude. This guy kept his "glass half-full" way of thinking, even while Frank was cutting off his fingers! That's one seriously crazy villain!
3. Batroc The Leaper
However, why can't Marvel break from its tradition and bring back a previous villain for once? I mean, aside from Loki and the obvious Thanos. For this reason, when two heroes both face off against a villain in the comics, only one may get the chance on screen. Batroc the Leaper is one of those villains who has come up against half the heroes in the comics, but has only fought Captain America thus far in the films. He gave Cap a tough time in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and if he can take on Cap he can take on Frank Castle, right? It's even possible that the Gnucci Family or some such gang could keep sending different assassins after Frank, allowing several villains to be thrown into the mix.
Honestly, I'm not even sure if Marvel can use this guy. There was talk at one point of Taskmaster being used for Deadpool and there is still some talk of him being used in the sequel, but I'm not going to get into the whole rights issue. The point is that Frank Castle boasts very unique fighting styles, and Taskmaster has the ability to copy any fighting style he observes. This makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to best him in combat of any kind and therefore makes him an amazing villain to go up against anybody. Even if they slightly alter his origin for the series (though after the magic involved in Daredevil, Season 2, I wouldn't be surprised if they left it intact) he could still have a natural talent for copying or quickly learning the fighting styles of others. And it would be amazing to see this villain on our screens!
These two have had some great fights and Daredevil doesn't appear to be using him, so why not? Bullseye could easily give Frank some problems for a season and because of his appearance in the 2003 Daredevil film, as portrayed by Colin Farrell, he is a well-known face to casual fans, though hopefully this version wouldn't resemble that one so much.
An obvious choice, as the two have already met and engaged in a bit of a tussle. If Wilson Fisk breaks out of jail — sorry, I mean WHEN Wilson Fisk breaks out of jail, he's bound to start gathering men and support in his attempts to totally destroy Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. What if, after helping Frank Castle escape jail, Fisk comes to him and offers him employment, and Frank turns on him? What follows could be an awesome season-long fight, ending in Fisk once again escaping so he can go back to Daredevil. It's unlikely, but I really want to see them fighting each other again.
And here is the final, and probably the most likely option. While Frank Castle kills pretty much all of his villains before they get the chance to make themselves a reputation, Jigsaw is one who Frank has failed to kill — not for lack of trying. As portrayed by Dominic West in Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw was actually considered to be an attractive man — before he met the Punisher. Now his face is covered by horrendous scars (Two-Face?) and this could be used in the series as a way to explore the backstory of the two characters. Alternatively, you could show them meeting for the first time and see just how Jigsaw got those scars.
And that's the list! It seems pretty likely that at least one of these seven will appear alongside Jon Bernthal in The Punisher, but who was your favorite?