Hall H was filled with thousands of Comic-Con attendees ready to learn more about The Defenders, the Netflix series that unites the heroes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. But first, Marvel Television’s Jeph Loeb had a special surprise for the crowd. Jon Bernthal took the stage and we all instantly realized what was coming. After all, Bernthal played Frank Castle (known in the criminal underworld as The Punisher) in season 2 of Daredevil and we knew he was getting his own spin-off.
And so the audience got to watch the first footage from The Punisher, which was quickly followed by a string of other Marvel Television announcements…including an official announcement of Iron Fist season 2.
The Punisher Footage
If you’ve seen one of Marvel’s other Netflix shows, you can probably picture what The Punisher looks like. Dark. Moody. Grimy. Gritty. And very, very R-rated.
The clip opened with a montage of Frank Castle playing a guitar with his doomed kid in the past, intercut with him playing solo in a dark room in the present. After a series of anguished close-ups , Frank puts his guitar down and gets to work.
And since he’s the Punisher, “getting to work” means killing a bunch of people. The first stop is rural Alabama, where he’s driving a van in pursuit of two couriers on motorcycles. They desperately open fire on him, but the relentless vigilante takes aim with a shotgun and puts them down. When one of the motorcyclists shows signs of life on the ground, Frank finishes the job with the wheels of his vehicle. Squish.
The action then cuts to Mexico, where a criminal type is partying with a few women in an apartment…something we see through the scope of Frank’s sniper rifle. He opens fire and then there’s a long delay. After what feels way too long, the target’s head explodes into blood and gore. Cue the camera pulling back (and back and back) from the action, revealing that Frank was literally miles away, across the border in Texas, when he pulled the trigger.
In the final scene, Frank gets up close and personal, cornering a schlub in a business suit in a bathroom stall. The victim insists that Frank has already shut down the cartel and that killing him won’t bring back his family. But begging doesn’t work on the Punisher, so Frank strangles the man with his own tie. Meanwhile, two guys overhear the murder and think there’s some king of tryst going on, a weird joke that doesn’t quite fit the grim tone of the rest of the footage.
Based purely on three minutes of footage, The Punisher looks and feels exactly what you’d expect from a Netflix and Marvel take on this character. I enjoyed Bernthal’s performance in Daredevil and this looks to take his entire subplot from that season and run with what worked: lots of scowling, lots of brutal killings, and lots Bernthal lending an intimidating physical presence to a character who can be either really fun or really dull depending on how he’s handled. I’ll say this much: Bernthal looks really, really good with that skull on his shirt.
Iron Fist Season 2
Before the rest of the Defenders panel could kick off properly, Loeb made made another announcement. In addition to the already-announced Daredevil season 3 and the currently filming Jessica Jones season 2, Iron Fist will return for a second season. No dates were given, but it showcases a confidence (or a stubbornness) in the character, as this series was the first Netflix/Marvel series to get dragged through the mud by critics.
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