Hollywood has tried to bring the Punisher, a war veteran waging a one-man vendetta against crime, to the silver screen in the past, and has failed. Dolph Lundgren dyed his hair black for an underwhelming 1989 Punisher flick, and Thomas Jane picked up the mantle for a 2004 Punisher film that met the same fate. 2008’s Punisher: War Zone received a few accolades (Patton Oswalt called it “THE BEST time” he’d had in the theater in years), but was another film that, while ultraviolent, didn’t deliver on the emotional intensity needed to properly pull off Frank Castle’s blood feud with bad. What past iterations have failed to understand is that the Punisher is a two-way name: sure, he inflicts pain on others, but he inflicts just as much pain on himself.

So when Marvel nerds heard that Jon Bernthal—the Washington, D.C.-born actor most-easily recognized as Shane Walsh from The Walking Dead—had been cast as the Punisher in season two of Daredevil, you could practically hear a collective sigh of relief. Bernthal, a former boxer who has the nose to prove it, is a physically imposing force. Just looking at him, you can see he has what it takes to portray the Punisher’s violent streak. And with films like Sicario, Snitch, The Wolf of Wall Street, and the aforementioned Walking Dead under his belt, it’s clear he can dig deep enough to aptly depict the anti-hero’s emotional turmoil.

Daredevil’s second season has already been devoured by diehards, and some of the biggest praise (outside of THAT fight scene) has been handed out to Bernthal. While unseen throughout most of the first episode, his presence is felt—he singlehandedly takes out a crew without anyone catching a glimpse of him. And when he does finally hit the scene, he’s pure menace: One grizzled war vet, walking cool, calm, and collected through a hospital war, shottie in hand. Then when Bernthal’s Castle and Daredevil finally meet in an epic rooftop battle, it’s a beautiful struggle, a symphony of violence, martial arts versus a pump-action shotgun. If that wasn’t enough to convince you that Bernthal was the perfect Punisher, he seals the deal a few episodes later in a subtler way, with a stunning speech in which Castle explains how and why he became the Punisher.

We caught up with Bernthal not too long before the premiere of season two of Daredevil to discuss how well he connected to the role of Frank Castle, and what it was like acclimating himself in to Marvel's world.

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