According to multiple reports on the web, a first villain was cast for the upcoming The Punisher series on Netflix. Reportedly, Ben Barnes will portray Bobby Saint, after the same character appeared in the Punisher film starring Thomas Jane. Hopefully, he is just one of the show’s villains, because he isn't exactly one of Frank Castle's most well-known enemies.
And, thank goodness, there are quite a few villains in Punisher's rogues gallery that could prove to be more serious threats for the anti-hero, while also being more interesting to see on the small screen. It would be peculiar for Netflix to go with this villain, especially since Daredevil and Jessica Jones entered the stage with top-notch enemies from the comic books.
So which villains would be better for The Punisher TV show? Well, basically, anybody other than Bobby Saint. But let's check out the most interesting ones!
As we all know, the Kingpin is now in jail and, as revealed in the second season of Daredevil, he doesn't intend to go out until the streets of New York have been cleansed. Quite smart on his part - when the Punisher, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage have defeated all the serious threats, he will be there to become the ruler of New York, without anybody questioning his reign.
So when will that happen?
The Punisher will be released after the first season of The Defenders. So it isn't too difficult to assume that, by the time the spin-off arrives, New York will be cleansed. After all, what will the Defenders do, other than deal with the most powerful criminal organizations?
So even if Ben Barnes will be Bobby Saint, he'd still be some low-level mobster, among many others. And he'll answer to the Kingpin, one of the best and most charismatic villains of the MCU.
On the other hand, Ben Barnes could be one of the sons of Ma Gnucci, the biggest antagonist of the Punisher show. And this would be interesting to see, since she would be the first true female supervillain of the MCU.
And it would be interesting from another point of view as well. If Ma Gnucci were the main antagonist, will she be presented as already bedbound, or will she become a quadruple amputee, just like in the comics, during the show? All in all, it would still be a more interesting choice.
Furthermore, given the storyline Welcome Back Frank, in which she was the big baddie, we'd be treated with an explosive season of the show. Just like we want it, actually, with the Punisher having to face scores of villains sent after him.
And I guess this will, once again, be a chance for Jon Bernthal to shine as Frank Castle. I'm not talking just about the shootouts, but also about the moments of heart-pounding calmness (his monologues in the second Daredevil season were the best in the MCU).
I know - we already saw a version of the Russian in the Thomas Jane version of the Punisher. However, I guess I wasn't the only one who saw him as a caricature of a villain. A TV show would do him more justice. And I know, he isn't exactly the most well-rounded villain of the lot.
However, he could be the muscle who actually stands a chance against the Punisher. And he could also be the one responsible for the more comedic moments of the show (not too many, though, since we are still talking about The Punisher).
Given his obsession with pop culture, this could also be a great chance to nod toward other properties. In the comics at least, the Russian is a fan of Daredevil. So who knows? Maybe the lawyer will cameo during this new series.
Anyway, if the show needs someone to match the Punisher's brutality, the Russian is that guy. Who can take more punishment than him?
Here is another interesting choice for a villain. Starting his career as a criminal at a young age (by killing his family), and at the bottom, Nicky Cavella is one of the more psychotic villains from Punisher's rogues gallery.
What else can you call someone who desecrates the graves and the remains of the Punisher's family? Will Netflix go this far? I guess the dark corner of the MCU can get pretty dark.
He isn't exactly the biggest physical threat for the Punisher. And he isn't as well-known as, say, the Kingpin. However, he does have the resources to punish the Punisher. Plus, it would be interesting to see how Castle would deal with him, how enraged he can become when the memory of his family is tainted.
It would be a pretty one-sided battle in the end. But the road leading to it should be more than entertaining.
Bullseye would be an interesting choice for a side-villain in the Punisher series, before making a full appearance in the third season of Daredevil (I know, this is just speculation). Anyway, I know he isn't a Punisher villain in the comics - however, he is still an assassin.
And whether it will be Kingpin or Ma Gnucci or some other mobster, he could be hired to kill Frank Castle.
Of course, this would be interesting from a different point of view when compared to a confrontation between Punisher and the Russian. It would be like a cat and mouse chase, in which Frank would be the mouse. And I wouldn't be too surprised if the villain won. After all, he is a better shot and a better fighter than Castle. So Punisher would have to work hard to get rid of him, or at least escape him.
Even if it were just a brief appearance (maybe a couple of episodes), Bullseye would be far better than some low-level criminal like Bobby Saint.
Who knows? Maybe, secretly, Ben Barnes was cast as Bullseye. Now, that would be a big surprise!
One of the most interesting parts of the second season of Daredevil was when Frank Castle and Matt Murdock defended their own views on what justice is. This dialogue could be continued in the Punisher show, if the Elite is brought in.
Basically, Elite is a vigilante, just like Frank Castle. However, unlike him, Elite punishes everybody, even if the offense is something as innocent as letting your dog urinate on the sidewalk. In a way, this villain is a Punisher taken to the extreme.
This would also see Frank Castle basically reiterating other monologues from the Daredevil show, particularly the ones about the heroes creating vigilantes. Would the Punisher change his perspective on what justice is? Or will he react, just like in the comics, killing Elite?
And this opens other possibilities, as well, since Elite needn't and shouldn't be the main antagonist. He could be part of a side-story, one that would make The Punisher even more interesting.
Bringing the Bulats into the show would give The Punisher a contemporary feel. And that is because the Bulats (both the father and the son) had an issue against the Muslims. Of course, their background should be changed, from the Bosnian War to anywhere in the Middle East.
But the principle would be the same. The Romanian mercenaries arrive in New York and, after the Defenders have cleared the way of other big baddies, establish themselves as the new bosses. Whether it would be prostitution rings, whether it would be anything else, this would set them up on a collision course with Frank Castle.
But I guess it would be better if The Slavers were adapted in full. I believe that Frank would have even more reasons to hunt them down with extreme prejudice if they were the leaders of forced prostitution rings.
And it would be way better than what we saw in Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson.
As a side villain to a show featuring some other big baddie, Holy would once again prove to be an interesting choice. And that is because Holy, just like the Punisher, is a ruthless vigilante. He espouses the same ideas as Frank, and kills the sinners who confess to him.
I forgot to say that he is a priest. And this would make the story even more interesting, just like in the case of Elite. Basically, the Punisher would have to fight with himself and motivate his own actions, as opposed to the actions of other vigilantes.
And maybe we have already met Holy, in the Daredevil show. Maybe Netflix and Marvel will change the character, from Father Redondo to Father Lantom - he is the same guy to whom Matt Murdock came for advice.
Obviously, this wouldn't be such a big threat for Castle. Especially if the above mentioned change is made. However, as with any Marvel and Netflix collaboration, the ideas will trump the action. And I'd be more than happy to hear another debate on the virtues and perils of vigilantism.
And since I mentioned Elite and Holy"¦
The Vigilante Squad
The Vigilante Squad is, as the name suggests, a group of vigilantes formed by Elite, Holy, and Mr. Payback. However, unlike the Punisher, they don't deal with the harshest of all criminals. I've already mentioned Elite and Holy. Mr. Payback is, probably, the worst of the lot, since he actually kills innocents.
His aim is, basically, all those who are corrupt. He doesn't hunt down the violent criminals, but those he considers to have wronged the working class. So Punisher would have even more reasons than he would with the other two, to track him down.
Obviously, the Vigilante Squad don't consider themselves as being the villains of the story. Just like the Punisher doesn't believe that he is an evildoer. So that is why they would seek him out and try to recruit him into their ranks, as a leader.
Again, the Vigilante Squad isn't exactly a physical threat for Frank Castle. Or, at least, it isn't more of a threat than other thugs with weapons. However, the dialogue and monologues would be more than worth the while.
So whether it would be the entire squad or just one of the members, Netflix and Marvel should really consider adding such a Punisher subplot.
Bringing Barracuda into the Punisher show would tie in nicely with what we already know from the second season of Daredevil. Thus, the villain would be someone sent by the same generals responsible for the death of Castle's family. And, once again, this would be a villain to match Castle's physical and tactical skills.
Obviously, the story could pull from the Long, Cold Dark comic book, with the Punisher unwillingly helping Barracuda become a feared criminal boss. However, I guess some parts of the storyline could be left out. I am talking, of course, about the daughter Castle has.
This wouldn't fit with what we already know about the Punisher. Plus, having a surviving family member would somehow steal from the character's motivations. So I'd leave that out.
But Barracuda is, probably, the one villain that should definitely appear in the Punisher TV series. Even more than anybody on this list. He is powerful, he is a great strategist, and he can endure whatever pain the Punisher might inflict on him.
He is perfect for the Netflix corner of the MCU.
Lastly, there is Jigsaw. We have already seen a version of this character in Punisher: War Zone, even if it was an altered version. But Jigsaw would, nonetheless, make a great main villain for the first season (hopefully) of The Punisher.
Yet another mobster on this list, Jigsaw has a personal vendetta against Castle, ever since the anti-hero mutilated him beyond any repair. But this was what, in the end, brought the Jigsaw persona out. So, in a way, it was the Punisher who created him.
And this would put another spin on the Punisher's story. Like every hero out there, he has created his own enemy. Which is something Daredevil also feared in the second season of his show.
However, I doubt that Netflix will use Jigsaw, mainly because he was already featured in a movie. But the character would feel at home in the smaller MCU, one that isn't afraid to show the real underbelly of the biggest cities in the world.
What do you think? Are there any other villains who should be added to this list?