I just want to come clean here. I don’t really like Punisher. Don’t get me wrong, he has his place. As a guest star, as a foil, I think he can be well-utilized. I loved the probably less than excellent Batman and Punisher crossovers because the(anti-) chemistry between them is interesting. I generally like when Daredevil and Punisher try to team up because the sense of respect, disappointment, and distaste for one another they project is intriguing.
On his own, however, he often, well, fails to raise my interest.
Having said that, I liked Jon Bernthal’s performance in the DAREDEVIL Netflix series and thought of all the live-action Punishers (Bernthal, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson, and Dolph Lundgren) he did the best job of finding Frank Castle’s humanity while still making him, well, a murderer.
Also, the marketing for the upcoming Netflix series has been strong.
So with the teaser released at the end of DEFENDERS this weekend, I thought I might consider some villains that could be interesting in the series, despite the fact that obviously the show is already set.
Oh and just so you know I’m not including Kingpin (though he’d be great and I’d love to Netflix’s Punisher and Kingpin have another encounter after their brief prison interaction) or Bullseye (would be great, but would be so mad if he showed up in PUNISHER before DAREDEVIL. SO mad.)
10 Punisher Villains that I’d be Onboard for in the Netflix Series
1.) Jigsaw- Yes it is an obvious choice. But some things are obvious because they just make sense. The closest thing Punisher has to a chief antagonist, Jigsaw evades killing on the regular and his outsides reflect not only everything Punisher has put him through but Castle’s one well-scarred psyche.
2.) Bushwhacker- There is a character that looks a lot like him in the trailer already so this seems like a strong possibility. The thing you need to know is Bushwhacker is a bigot who can turn his arm into a gun. Castle doesn’t go in for bigots and a guy who is literally bonded to his firearm and never runs out of bullets is an interesting antagonist for the “hero” who might as well be bonded to his and buys bullets by the wheelbarrow.
3.) Stu Clarke- There is a lot I’d jettison to do include Clarke in adaptation (like turning him into the second Jigsaw, sort of kind of) but the bones are good. Former Punisher ally who finds out the Punisher killed his girlfriend—in the comics it is because of Hate Monger, in a TV show, I’d go for a more of a killed in the crossfire, Punisher not directly responsible but was the catalyst for the crossfire—and decides to destroy his former friend.
Betrayal is an effective story element, especially when the character being betrayed isn’t entirely innocent of what’s fueling that behavior. Add in Castle already has so few people he can count on and it hurts that much worse.
4.) The Holy, Elite, and Mr. Payback- I like the idea of Punisher being his own worst enemy in many ways and one of the best ways to show that is to externalize it. Each of these three are “inspired” by Punisher but represent a perversion of his mission. The Holy punishes sinners of all varieties from literal criminals to sins that do not qualify as crimes like adulterer y or greed. Elite is looking to keep the criminal element out of his neighborhood but can’t differentiate between drug dealing and jaywalking, and Mr. Payback is motivated by a desire to take down the massive corporation victimizers but sees no problem with treating the receptionist the same of the CEO.
5.) Paladin- I confess I just have a thing for this character so I’d love to see him somewhere. However, I think he works here as a mercenary bodyguard type who is amoral in who he protects and happens to be hired by Punisher’s latest target.
6.) Persuader- The idea of Punisher being compelled by a villain to do wrong, to kill someone innocent is juicy and Persuader could do it. I only hesitate because Persuader is technically a mutant (and those probably part of that whole Fox mess) and it might feel a little too similar to JESSICA JONES in practice.
7.) Damage- Again, much like Stu Clarke, there’s a lot I would trim here but the structure is sound. An almost victim of Punisher endures horrendous agony recovering from his injuries and decides to become Punisher’s evil double, taking out the people that Punisher’s intervention saved, essentially erasing all the unequivocal good (innocents saved) from Castle’s behaviors and only adding to the bloodshed.
8.) Hitman- Castle and Kenyon fought together in Vietnam—or whatever war makes sense now history-wise—with Kenyon even saving Castle’s life at one point. Castle went back home to his wife and family and a job as a cop. Kenyon had no one and took the unshakeable taste for war that Frank transferred into helping people and moved that into being a great hired killer. Again, the best villains, especially for Punisher, suggest the alternate paths he might have taken and how close he still is to being like these “bad guys.”
9.) Silvermane- A Mafia don who is scared of death he is slowly replacing his organic body with machine components goes up against a man who’s whole existence is devoted to sending Mafia dons to the grave. His robot body would need to be toned down a lot not to look silly but that essential relationship is strong.
10.) A truckload of mob enforcers- Mob enforcers are to Punisher what ninjas are to Daredevil. Better stock up.