It’s now become common knowledge that we’ll be seeing a brand new incarnation of Frank Castle — A.K.A. the Punisher — in season 2 of Daredevil, but Steven DeKnight has exclusively confirmed with us that this wasn’t always the plan.
“We had talked about writing in the Punisher in a coda at the very end of the season,” revealed DeKnight.
Cue your coffee spit-take now. This basically means that we were originally supposed to see the Punisher in full form before the general public even knew that he was coming for season 2.
“The original idea was that after the credits were done, we would see Owlsley,” described DeKnight. “Basically we would make it so he was the one that got away, that he managed to escape. He’s heading for his boat to go off into the sunset, and he runs into a guy that we don’t see. He falls to the ground, and then this guy shoots him, and we pan up and we see the Punisher skull on this guy’s body armor.”
That. Sounds. Incredible. So why we didn’t get this surprising introduction to the character?
“Netflix isn’t big on doing codas because they have the automatic next episode thing,” said DeKnight. “So we decided to scrap that, which I actually think was the right decision. I think there’s a better, more organic way to introduce him to the world. And also, I think there’s a more organic way to wrap up Leland Owlsley’s storyline, and that’s by having Wilson Fisk kill him.”
Punisher is one of DeKnight’s favorite comic book characters, so although it was his decision to not be involved in season 2 in favor of getting his film off the ground, there’s undoubtedly a tinge of jealousy in his voice when talking about the Punisher and how he would handle him if given the chance.
“I’ve always loved the character of Frank Castle. If I were doing it, I would do it the same way we did Wilson Fisk. To hear about him or see the effects of him before you meet him. Just like they did in Jessica Jones. Hearing of and seeing the effects of Kilgrave before we meet him. It’s an old technique, but there’s a reason people use it so much and it’s because it’s very, very powerful.”
Of course, we’ve seen the Punisher in other mediums before, but not from Marvel Studios, which has a much more pure connection to the character’s comic origins.
“The limitations with a movie, of course, is that the character of the Punisher has to push more toward R-rated,” said DeKnight. “I’m not saying that Marvel is gonna go full R-rated with the Punisher, but obviously you can get very close and much more complicated. You can certainly tone it down like we did in Daredevil, but you don’t have to shy away from the moral grey areas that are inherent in Frank Castle.”
Sure enough, most of the films made about the Punisher have had a difficult time understanding a few core concepts of the character. While they are fine with giving him free license to kill just about anyone, they are less fine with the shades of grey that might make the character “unlikeable.”
“The studio urge is to make the Punisher a little more user friendly,” explained DeKnight. “There’s always the band of misfits that he’s trying to protect, or the woman he’s trying to protect, which isn’t really the Punisher.”
Comic readers can agree that seeing a Punisher that’s less interested in punishing criminals and more interested in protecting the innocent isn’t really a good interpretation of the character.
“He’s not called to protect,” said DeKnight, with defiance. “He’s called to punish!”
DeKnight insists that an envelope-pushing online network like Netflix may prove to be the perfect home for Castle and his very particular brand of vigilante justice.
“Obviously, TV viewers love the antihero,” said DeKnight. “I think that when Breaking Bad and Mad Men see success, then everyone in the community really sees the value of a morally flawed character instead of someone that you have to worry about the audience not liking anymore because they did something ‘bad.’ I think the Punisher is the type of character that is just tailor made to be on an outlet like Netflix.”
With such a thorough understanding of the character, it would only make sense that the new showrunners, Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez, would consult DeKnight for advice, but according to DeKnight, that’s not the case.
“They don’t need me,” exclaimed DeKnight. “They’ll be fine. I gave them the same speech that Drew Goddard gave me when I signed on, which was, ‘Listen, I want this to be your own show, do what you want with it, and don’t worry about me or what I’ve done before, but if you need me, y’know, call me!’”
Season 2 of Daredevil will hit Netflix on March 18.
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