Jon Bernthal’s Punisher is “A Protagonist But Not a Hero”

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We’re a week out from The Defenders and it’s important to consider the next chapters of our favorite Morally gray street heroes.   With new Punisher footage making the rounds thanks to comic con, it’s time to think about just what the series will entail.  As we progress to the next chapter of the Hell’s Kitchen saga in The Punisher it’s important to start asking those sorts of questions about its unbelievably morally gray star.  According to Moviefone, Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle will follow along with that route. It’s a bold move but in a world where people like Frank can do quite a bit of damage, it’s the right path for the character to take in his new series.

Sitting down with Bernthal to talk about his new projects Pilgrimage and Wind River, Bernthal was asked about Punisher.  He had a number of things to say about the creative direction of making Frank Castle “A protagonist but not a hero.”   Fans will recall that  Frank Castle’s story motivated the action of Daredevil season 2, but Frank’s remorseless vigilante remains at large in Hell’s Kitchen to the horror – and the hope of many of its residents. Frank’s appearance remains incredibly divisive among residents while fans root for the vigilante.  From an acting point of view, Bernthal called it an “Interesting predicament.”

To put him as the central character is interesting. I think that my big struggle with him is that one of my biggest kind of things that I’m always fighting for on set is, I always want to preserve the essence of Frank, and have the right and be bold enough to really turn my back on the audience, and not do things to win the audience’s favor, but rather stay true to the character and the essence of who he is.

Military veterans have called Bernthal’s portrayal of the Punisher, a personal symbol to many of them “respectful”.  Bernthal’s gone out of his way to support and promote the veterans who watched Daredevil and who have supported him as Punisher.  Bernthal’s respect for the character goes a long way in pointing out that while Frank is a so-called “hero” not much that he does is heroic.

I think Frank is brutal. Frank is damaged. Frank is tortured. I think Frank, when he engages in violence, there’s something utterly satisfying and addictive for him to be doing that, and that may not be something that the audience can agree with or get behind. But I’ve always fought to preserve that, and I think that that’s a part of him. I think the pain and what’s behind the violence and the reason why he’s committing the violence, that’s a different story. I want to explore that, too.

It sets an important precedent for mental health to see a “brutal and damaged” hero on the screen that might make the audience think more deeply about what causes that sort of violence in individuals.  It sets an even deeper precedent knowing that beneath Frank’s damaged and brutal exterior is a person who is still capable of heroism.  Something that Bernthal is also very aware of.  Frank is a character capable of heroism but he is not a hero.  He’s the literal definition of an antihero.

 I think that’s the real challenge: being bold enough to not make him too heroic, at least “heroic,” is important to me. That being said, I think there’s Frank Castle inside of everybody. I think being a father and being a husband, he’s a character that I deeply empathize with.

It sounds as if while Frank will be difficult to root for in his first solo outing, it’ll be the right direction to take with this character!

Do you think they’re on track with The Punisher? Sound off and share in the comments below.  Marvel’s The Punisher doesn’t have a current release date for Netflix but as always we’ll keep you updated on The Marvel Report.


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