The first casting for the upcoming The Punisher Netflix series (aside from Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle) has been announced. Ben Barnes from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will be play a major role, and he's possibly "portraying antagonist Bobby Saint, the corrupt crime prodigy played in the 2004 film by James Carpinello," according to TVLine.
If you saw the 2004 Punisher movie with Thomas Jane, Bobby Saint is indeed a familiar name. The character was the son of the main villain, Howard Saint. But, all things considered, this is a really surprising choice.
The Saint Family Has No Basis In The Comics
Bobby Saint first appeared, in any medium, going up against Thomas Jane. So if this rumor is true, it is a curious choice, adapting a live-action story for a different live-action story. But of course, it's very doubtful that Netflix intends on just retelling the story from the 2004 movie.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to take from popular storylines while adaptating and changing them to fit its own unique universe. So where can the show go?
The Saints Also Appeared In 2005's The Punisher Video Game — And Jigsaw Was One Of Them
In the video game, one of Howard Saint's sons had the distinct honor of surviving an encounter with the Punisher. Instead of dying, his face was scarred and he became Frank Castle's arch-nemesis Jigsaw.
So, the Saints have only been used in two mediums, and one was well-received (the 2005 video game) while the other was not so much (the 2004 movie). If anything, Netflix's Marvel series have always used the arch-nemesis of the main character as the main antagonist of the first season. It would be odd if The Punisher broke away from this mold.
So if the Bobby Saint rumor is true, will Jigsaw's origin follow the video game version instead of the comic book version? Or would Bobby Saint be reworked as Billy Russo?
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The Comic Book Arc Netflix Should Adapt
If Netflix is looking to the comics mostly, not just the 2005 video game (which seems more plausible), there is one particular story by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon that is credited for making the Punisher relevant again, and which would be a perfect storyline for the new 13-episode series.
In 2000, The Punisher was revamped with the seminal 12-issue arc "Welcome Back, Frank." It found the Punisher reestablishing himself as a vigilante while taking on the Gnucci crime family.
It was a unique way of showing what makes the Punisher tick in the modern age. He had a cast of quirky supporting characters, and established some unique villains such as Ma Gnucci, the head of the crime family. (Female villains are something of a rarity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
There was also the Russian, a gigantic hitman who would seem quite affable while beating you to death. The storyline had an episodic nature to it that is suited for the television format. Though he would not be as experienced as his comics counterpart was, the premise of "Welcome Back, Frank" — Frank Castle reclaiming his identity — works just as well in this context.
And guess what? Elements of this story were adapted into the 2004 film as well as the 2005 video game.
The Perfect Start For A Punisher Solo Television Series
Will Netflix's The Punisher series be based on comics such as "Welcome Back, Frank," the 2005 video game, or a combination of both? More than likely, the producers will cherrypick all of the best elements to make their own thing. If Bobby Saint really is in the series, that tips its hand to the more Garth Ennis-based stuff being adapted.
Rumors are that the series will debut in 2017. Will we see the Punisher before then, maybe in The Defenders series? Months will have certainly have passed in-universe since his last appearance in Season 2 of Daredevil, and the Punisher is not one to sit and wait.
One thing that is guaranteed: the next time we do see Frank Castle, he will have morgues to fill with his work.
What do you think will happen when the Punisher returns to Netflix? Let us know in the comments below!