One of the biggest surprises about season two of the Netflix Marvel series Daredevil was the arrival and performance of actor Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, better known as The Punisher. In fact, his presence was so strong that the character is getting his own spin-off series.
The character, who was created by writer Gerry Conway and artist John Romita, Sr. for issue 129 of The Amazing Spider-Man, lost his wife and children in a mob execution after they witnessed a killing in New York’s Central Park. In retribution, Castle began waging a one-man war on the mob and crime in general. As described by Wikipedia, he’s “a war veteran and a United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper, [He] is a master of martial arts, stealth tactics, guerrilla warfare, and a wide variety of weapons.”
To get into the mindset of Castle, here's what Bernthal told Deadline:
“I really felt that for me, to eliminate the creature comforts, to isolate myself from my family, to really actively engage and be open to a relative level of darkness in my life, I think really serves the character and really was essential to explore.”
In that same Deadline interview, Jon Bernthal noted that the version of the character that audiences were introduced to on Daredevil was *not someone who was trying to make Hell’s Kitchen safe from crime. “He’s a brokenhearted, completely isolated me who’s lost his wife and kids,” he said. “He’s reeling, he’s filled with shame and remorse and regret and pain, and he’s a man on a mission. He’s trying to find these people who have taken his heart from him, and he’s trying to kill them, in as brutal a way as possible.”
His belief is that this was pretty classic and human a tale as you’re likely to see. He also believes that he wouldn't have been able to get into Castle’s mindset if he wasn’t married with children, and able to imagine what that sort of loss would do to him. He absolutely needed to know what it felt like to love others more than he loved himself, and be in the emotional state that he would gladly sacrifice himself if it meant they were safe.
“Until you really understand that,” he said, “I don’t think you can begin to understand what it would be like to lose that love.”
As for the version of the character that we’ll see in the spin-off series, he told EW, “I think with Frank and with the world that he’s very much involved in, he’s a soldier, so I think there will be very much a military component of the show. It will be somewhat centered on that… I think that [the] Frank Castle that was in Daredevil is not in Punisher.”
The character has previously been adapted to film in a 1989 production that starred Dolph Lundgren as the title character. While, pretty much dismissed by most people, one intriguing aspect of the film is the plot element that has Castle going up against the Yakuza, fighting alongside the man who killed his family to rescue kidnapped children.
Fifteen years later, the character was back in the form of Thomas Jane in The Punisher. This time, FBI agent, and former soldier, Castle retires when an operation goes wrong, resulting in the death of businessman Howard Saint’s (John Travolta) son. Holding Castle responsible, Saint has his family murdered, which ultimately results in the creation of The Punisher.
It was another four years before the next film, Ray Stevenson taking on the part in Punisher: War Zone. In it, Castle goes after mob boss Billy “Jigsaw” Russoti, played by Dominic West, who, after becoming disfigured in their battle, seeks vengeance from him, leading to a deadly game of cat and mouse between them.