Marvel has cast Jon Bernthal as The Punisher, a role he’ll play in the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil and presumably in other Marvel productions as well. For those keeping track, that’s Shane from The Walking Dead, the guy who oozes a suppressed rage like Ray Liotta in a steam room. Nice choice.
It doesn’t hurt that Bernthal looks like illustrator John Romita Jr.’s original drawings of Frank Castle, the gun-toting, good-guy psychopath. But it’s the swagger that makes the difference. Bernthal brings a slightly mawkish machismo to the role, as if he’s almost being dragged down by the enormous weight of his manhood. That’s perfect for a character who never really wins even when he wins.
Previous incarnations of the Punisher mistook him for a Terminator. He’s more like Rambo with some serious mental health issues — not so much a badass hero in leather as a lunatic in leather with a huge arsenal. His nihilistic bullet rage isn’t supposed to be cool (he’s not in The Matrix), it’s supposed to be frightening.
Daredevil possesses an unwavering, blind faith in justice (get it? Because he’s blind). His series on Netflix, a holy amalgam of some of the character’s best comic stories married with the zeitgeist of contemporary prestige television, was about his internal conflict dealing with what he should be doing (legally put criminals behind bars) and what he needs to do (illegally beat them with kickass parkour).
Where Daredevil backflips and cartwheels around moral gray areas, The Punisher walks directly from point A to point B and shoots point B in the head. Jon Bernthal is used to this sort of thing and ready to go.