8 Things You Didn’t Know About The Series

8 Things You Didn't Know About The Series

Warning: This article contains references to murder

Marvel’s slew of grittier TV shows have found a new home on Disney+. Originally released on Netflix as part of Marvel’s plan to expand their universe of characters back in 2015, the working relationship between the Disney-owned Marvel and Netflix became untenable as Disney planned to launch their own streaming platform in 2019. Critically acclaimed shows like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and The Punisher suddenly found themselves without any conceivable future after the cancellation.

RELATED: The 15 Best Quotes From The Punisher Series

However, that has all changed recently with the addition of the shows to Disney+. Speculation about characters like Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle/The Punisher have been ripe, with fans speculating on where the characters could appear next in the MCU. Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle/The Punisher was instantly lauded when he made his initial appearance in season two of Daredevil, doing enough to earn himself a solo series that lasted for two seasons. With the possibility of the character’s return more likely now than ever before, it’s a perfect moment to learn more about the dark and intense Marvel series before the character (hopefully) returns to the MCU.

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A TV Show That Never Happened

Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle on The Punisher

Jon Bernthal is not the first actor to inhabit the character of The Punisher/Frank Castle. Before the 2017 Marvel Television series, there had been three feature-length movie adaptations of The Punisher, with three different actors in the leading part. Dolph Lundgren (1989), Thomas Jane (2004), and Ray Stevenson (2008) all took on the mantle of The Punisher before Jon Bernthal’s definitive turn in his own solo television series.

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However, there were plans for a TV show featuring the character before The Punisher ever happened with Marvel Television/Netflix. In 2011, a television adaptation of The Punisher was in the works at FOX (via Variety). That series would never get beyond the development stage and would be canceled a year later in 2012 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

A New York Comic-Con Promotional Event Was Cancelled In 2017 Due To Gun Violence In The US

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There is no denying the connection between the character of The Punisher and his weapons of choice: guns. The Punisher’s lethal vigilante form of justice is in sharp contrast to many other non-lethal heroes of Marvel, such as Spider-Man and Daredevil. The Punisher, over the course of its two seasons, didn’t shy away from this part of the character’s origin; a decision that led many to criticize it for the perceived glorification of gun violence.

The show then almost came under scrutiny again in 2017 after a violent gun massacre in Las Vegas. With the producers planning on releasing a promotional event for The Punisher’s premiere season, Marvel and Netflix were quick to cancel it as it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to highlight the series at a sensitive time (via The Guardian).

Inspiration From 1970s Conspiracy Thrillers

In creating a solo series for Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, showrunner Steven Lightfoot took inspiration from classic conspiracy thrillers from the 1970s, such as Marathon Man, when crafting the paranoia-infused world of The Punisher.

In an interview with Rotton Tomatoes, Lightfoot highlighted, in particular, 1970s thrillers and the Western genre as inspirations for The Punisher. Frank Castle is a classic anti-hero archetype in the same vein as many Western heroes and flawed protagonists from 1970s cinema.

A Stan Lee Tribute Has Been Cut From The Final Episode On Disney+

the-punisher-stan-lee-tribute-controversy

With all the Marvel Netflix shows now available on Disney+ around the world, many fans have been re-watching and re-evaluating the shows for their merits and faults. One thing that fans have noticed on their re-watches is some of the subtle changes Disney has made to the shows. Most of these are cosmetic changes, such as removing the name “Netflix” from the opening themes of each show. However, a notable Stan Lee tribute at the end of The Punisher’s second season has also received the cut from Disney.

RELATED: 20 Episodes That Are Missing Or Altered on Disney+

The co-creator of some of the world’s most famous comic-book characters sadly passed away in 2018 and has been honored by Marvel ever since (most notably in the opening of Captain Marvel). Despite this, the Stan Lee reference that originally appeared at the end of the final episode of The Punisher’s second season has been removed. The tribute has not been moved anywhere else in the Punisher’s twenty-six-episode run, and, as of now, Disney has not commented on the matter. A Stan Lee reference is still present, as of this moment, at the end of Jessica Jones’ second season.

Dorian Gray Reference

The central antagonist across the two seasons of The Punisher is Frank Castle’s friend turned enemy to Billy Russo/Jigsaw, played by the brilliant Ben Barnes. Barnes perfectly captures the arrogance and greed of Russo’s character across the two seasons of the show. Another character previously played by Barnes is referenced in the third episode of the first season: Dorian Gray.

RELATED: 10 Best Ben Barnes Movies, According To IMDb

In season one, episode three “Kandahar,” Billy Russo can be seen reading the classic 19th-century gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. The reference is perfect on a number of metatextual levels. First, the story of Dorian Gray as a man overly obsessed with his outward appearance, and the horror underneath that façade is a perfect parallel for Billy Russo, who is similarly hiding beneath a manufactured exterior. Secondly, Ben Barnes actually played the title role in a 2009 adaptation of the novel.

No Rosario Dawson

Claire Temple and Luke Cage

As Marvel Television developed its shows for Netflix, the plan was to follow the roadmap laid out in the MCU’s first phase. Solo series’ to establish the characters of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, were to be followed by a team-up in the form of The Defenders. Much like the Marvel Studios’ movies, connective tissue would link the shows together, particularly in the form of Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, one of the actor’s best roles, who appeared in all individual series’.

The only series Rosario Dawson did not appear in was The Punisher. The actor explain in an interview that she wanted to cameo in The Punisher, but sometimes schedules don’t align (via EW).

Help From Tom Holland

Today, Tom Holland is a household name, known for his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man movies and Nathan Drake in Uncharted. However, back in 2015, he was a fresh-faced actor filming a low-budget Medieval period piece in the west of Ireland. Pilgrimage stars Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal, who are the central pair in the film. The Medieval drama, one of the best of recent years, was filmed in 2015 before either Bernthal or Holland had been cast in the roles that they are now known for.

When filming Pilgrimage, the pair actually helped each other with their Marvel auditions. In an interview with Variety, Bernthal recalls how the pair collaborated on audition tapes for Marvel during breaks on the set of Pilgrimage, reading lines and acting opposite the other. The process clearly worked, and both actors got the roles of a lifetime.

Jon Bernthal Used Method Acting (Kind Of)

Frank Castle on The Punisher

There’s no denying that Jon Bernthal is a wild guy who often plays intense characters. Looking at the other characters he’s played, Shane in The Walking Dead, Griff in Baby Driver, and Brad in The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s clear the actor has a type. When it came time to play Frank Castle, Bernthal threw himself into the role in ways many would call “method acting.”

In an interview with Howard Stern (via Youtube), Bernthal was asked by the host about reports that he method acted while on the set of The Punisher. Bernthal denied the reports but did state his intense commitment to the part often had him isolate himself from his family. The actor also states that he would often wander the streets of New York alone with bricks in his backpack to better understand the loneliness and emotional weight felt by Frank Castle after the loss of his family.

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About The Author

Stuart Kilmartin
(32 Articles Published)

Stuart Kilmartin, born in Galway, Ireland, is an English MA graduate, a published writer, and a long-time teacher with a love for literature, movies, and television. He has been published in many different publications for his articles relating to movies and television, and his poetry has appeared in poetry journals worldwide.

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