It’s being reported that word coming out of the Netflix/Marvel camps is that Jon Bernthal has impressed Executives so much with his performance as Frank Castle that groundwork has now begun on an individual Punisher Netflix series.
First off, let’s not get too excited. This is something well outside the carefully laid plans that were initially announced by the two companies, and they do have a habit of sticking to their plans. Neither company has commented on this when they’ve subsequently been approached and asked for a quote.
Secondly, this rumor is actually nothing new. A couple of months back it was circulating that due to difficulties that were being experienced with writing and casting Iron Fist, the makers were considering going with Frank as an easier option, something they later denied.
Having said that, the initial indicators are that the portrayal is going to be something special. In keeping with all Netflix’s work so far, advertising and media around the project have been kept sparse and grounded, the urge to slap a couple of photos of the famous skull t-shirt online being strongly resisted, much as it was with the Daredevil suit in Season 1.
When asked about the character recently, Jeph Loeb, the Vice President of Marvel’s TV arm replied “Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is extraordinarily memorable, in every way.”
So they’re happy with him. They also still havn’t cast anyone for Danny Rand yet. So maybe. Just maybe, there’s some truth in it.
Both Daredevil and Jessica Jones have been massive hits. With their gritty and, at times, shocking storylines and attention to detail, they’re far and above any other TV comic adaptation. And with the failures of the previous Punisher movies, a broader TV-based role may well be just what the character needs to thrive and achieve the success it so badly deserves.
So, taking into account the fact that the Netflix shows are allowed to reference, but not directly involve the larger Marvel Universe, which Punisher tales would work well over the 13 episode season format that the project would have to work with? Well, it just so happens they’ve already been written. The MAX imprint.
Recognizing the controversial nature of the character, and the limitation that he’d either have to kill everyone he met, or continually fail in doing so if he was overplayed in the mainstream comics, Marvel created a side universe where he could face the worst that humanity had to offer, as opposed to superheroes. It’s almost like it was pre-written with TV in mind. So which tales might we be likely to see on Netflix?
5. The Mafia
The most obvious and direct route, despite the ‘War Zone’ movie’s absolute mauling of the source material, is the efforts of the Italian crime families to combat and adapt to Frank being in their lives. The actions of the Cesare dynasty in trying to crush their enemy. The machinations of the psychotic Nicky Cavella and his twisted henchmen. The desperate widows of the Mafia men, banding together for revenge. That would easily fill 13 episodes.
4. The Military Conspiracy
One of the few mainstream characters who was allowed to make the jump into MAX was Nick Fury. A cameo from him would set up the series to explore Frank’s military past, and also put him on a collision course with a corrupt modern military, profiting off the lives of young soldiers. The Howling Commando’s, Yorkie Mitchell, Rawlins and O’Brien. The action could move out of Hell’s Kitchen, and then back again when the army decide to hunt down the thorn in their side, only on his streets and his terms.
3. Down South
But on the subject of heading out of the Kitchen, how about something takes Frank down to the border? There have been a number of Texican themed Punisher tales, all of which would be fertile ground for TV. Girls In White Dresses. The militia and hate groups that he tackled during ‘Civil War’. Maybe even a run-in with a certain Konshu-worshipping anti hero whilst combatting the cartels? Things are never peaceful for Frank when he samples border hospitality.
2. Social Problems
Frank has always been at his most entertaining when you give him a problem that nobody else wants to fix, and he tackles it the best way he knows how. Modern Day America has no shortage of problems to tackle. From the human trafficking of the Bulat family, to the organised drugs of the Lizard Kings. Shove a few of these into the Kitchen, in the aftermath of Wilson Fisk’s fall from power, and then let the punishment commence.
1. Rise of the Villains
One the Punisher’s main appeals is he’s prepared to take out the layer of evil that’s simmering just below what other heroes are off dealing with. Much like ‘Gotham’ is attempting with its second series, how about Frank is suddenly faced with a glut of his most frightening adversaries? Maginty. The Russian. Barracuda. Maybe Frank rattled one cage too many, and needs to find out who’s put a hit out on him, whilst trying to avoid the worst scum the street has to offer?
Whatever the truth in the rumour, or the direction it’s taken in, if Netflix do take control of the Punisher, he’ll vein good hands. But what would you most like to see in a Punisher series? Sound off below!