So, in part one we looked at the Punisher’s origins and success in the comic books, in part two we examined the failed attempts to bring this iconic character to the big screen. Now let’s look at where we are today with the TV series and what we can expect for the future of Frank Castle.
Back in 2011, a Variety article stated that FOX was looking at piloting an hour long Punisher TV series as many Marvel properties were making the rounds thanks to massive success of The Avengers film. A year later, per The Hollywood Reporter, they had decided not to move foward with the pilot even though they had acquired Criminal Minds writier/producer Ed Bernero as helmer.
In April of 2013 Marvel kingpin Kevin Feige announced that Marvel had secured the rights for Daredevil from 20th Century Fox, something that had been in the works for some time. This allowed Daredevil and associated characters to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Marvel Television getting the first opportunity when Jeph Loeb decided TV was a better format for this character.
Fast-forward two years and a deal is made with Netflix and on April 10, 2015 13 episodes of Daredevil Season 1 was released starring Charlie Cox as blind lawyer Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil. The first season was a huge success for Marvel and Netflix and by the end of month a second season was announced with a new but familiar face, or should I say skull?
Jon Bernthal was cast as Frank Castle in June of 2015 for the second season of Daredevil which was released, all 13 episodes, on Netflix March 18, 2016. While season 2 of Daredevil wasn’t as well received and the first, one thing that had fans excited was Bernthal’s take on the troubled vigilante. Originally, Frank Castle was supposed to appear in the credits at the end of season one of Daredevil but the idea was dropped and his intro was moved to season two instead.
People liked Castle’s singular goal of someone who aims to clean up Hell’s Kitchen by any means necessary, no matter how lethal the results. More efficient and less gruesome than the overtly graphical violence in Punisher: War Zone, Bernthal resembled more of a focused executioner or craftsman. Showrunner Doug Petrie would say:
“Taking lethal justice into your own hands in America in 2015 is tricky shit. We have not shied away from the rich complicated reality of Now. If you’ve got a gun and you’re not the police you’re going to incite strong feelings.”
Due to the popularity of the character, Marvel/Netflix ordered a spin-off series in April of 2016 just one month after season 2 of Daredevil premiered. Bernthal’s involvement was confirmed and announced Steve Lightfoot as executive producer and showrunner. Filming began in Brooklyn, New York in October 2016, and concluded in April 2017. There’s been conflicting reports on the release date, but recently Marvel has said it will be November 2017. Netflix is not showing any information for this series as of this writing.
It will be a full 13 episode schedule and the cast will include Deborah Ann Woll returning as Karen Page while Ebon Moss-Bachrach was cast as Castle’s sidekick Microchip. Details are scarce other than a few set pics that have been released and those involved saying it will be a darker, grittier show than what we’re used to, says director Stephen Surjik…
“It’s different than the other Marvel shows as far as it is an adult drama. There are no superpowers. You know the Punisher is a character who is based on vengeance, fundamentally. His family is a victim of some horrific thing, but the character himself is well-known and the way that they approach it is very different from the other shows.”
So, safe to say, all things point to Punisher fans finally getting a live representation they can get behind. Bernthal himself has been very vocal about doing right by the character and feeling honoured to be a part of this character’s world.
Will we see the vigilante show up in the upcoming superhero Netflix mash-up The Defenders? Nothing has been confirmed, but with San Diego Comic Con happening it would be to the surprise of no one if the Punisher crashes the Defenders Marvel panel, which would send folks in attendance into an uproar. We’ll have to wait and see.
Based on recent history there’s no reason the fist season of The Punisher will be a huge success for Netflix/Marvel and look for a second season announcement shortly after the release of the first. As we’ve discussed here in parts one and two of this series, there are a wide variety of criminals that require Punisher’s special brand of vigilante justice so there’s no reason to suspect he’s going away any time soon.
Till next time…