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Bernthal is simply not the best fit for the Punisher

I've been wanting a true to form live version of the Punisher for decades now. I still don’t think anyone has gotten it right yet. Jon Bernthal’s Punisher isn’t intelligent enough and Thomas Jane wasn’t gritty enough. Ray Stevenson was okay, but his Irishness was very obvious and he simply didn't sell it enough to me. Dolph Lundgren was a valiant effort for the '80s but it's really not even a contender.

Frank Castle is an impossibly tough, highly intelligent, former marine and now ruthless killer of Italian heritage (Francis "Frank" Castiglione "Castle"). He is a man with only one purpose in life, and that is to kill people he considers bad. There is nothing else for him but this. All these guys I've mentioned have failed to bring this criteria together. None of these guys have been able to hone in on that single minded killing machine that is Frank Castle and look like him while doing it.

Bernthal has given it a decent shot, but I’m just not crazy about him in the role. He’s short, kind of dopey, vaguely angry instead of coldly vengeful, and he lacks the chiseled facial features of Frank Castle from the comic books. Thomas Jane or Ray Stevenson were at least much closer in physical appearance of the character.

My personal favorite for the Punisher so far has been Thomas Jane, but there were serious problems with his movie and his portrayal. Like why was the movie set in Florida? And Thomas Jane needed to step up the cold blooded killer persona a few notches. The fight with the Russian was iconic though so that helped.

One day I really hope the MCU has the ability to put the character on screen and dedicates some serious money to the project because a true to form Punisher would be a huge success.


What about Frank Grillo as Punisher?


He has the appearance. He clearly has the ability to be gritty and a killer from other roles he's done. He's Italian. He's from New York. And he's already got the name Frank! The last thing to tie it together for him would be the acting chops required to show a man who has lost his wife and children to the mafia and now has an insatiable drive to kill all would be criminals. Great pick for a potential actor.


The only problem could be his age, he's 53. I don't know the Punisher comics well but the original character seems to be much younger.


Dang Wikipedia has him at 55. That's pushing it. He could do a "later era" Punisher but at this point he wouldn't be able to do an origin story unless they CGI him like crazy.


I never saw the Dolph version...I don't care for his acting
Jane was decent but the Florida setting made it feel off and Jane is not very intimidating
Stevensen was very good and was in the best of the films imo...

I really like Bernthal for the role
He looks like The Punisher and brings a good amount of anger and physicality to the role
I'm team Bernthal all the way alanparsons


He looks like The Punisher

He literally does not. Go pull up a picture of the Punisher before Bernthal took the role. He's simply not the Punisher in appearance. He's too short, skinny head, has the wrong hair, absolutely does not have the body frame. Besides skin tone he just doesn't fit. He does ok with the anger and brooding, but Frank Castle is supposed to be a sharp military man. Bernthal plays the role like he's always on drugs and he can barely speak.


In the early comics, the Punisher is drawn with big bulgy muscles, a busted looking nose, tightly cropped dark hair with a couple of strands hanging down, perpetual 5 o'clock shadow and a pissed off look.

Bernthal has the dark hair -- albeit closely cropped -- the busted nose and the unshaven face. Bernthal doesn't have the big bulgy muscles thing. He is pretty cut and has the leaner but solid build of an actual fighter.

Looks cool in the comics, but, in reality, big blocky bodybuilder-style muscles aren't functional for combat purposes. Fighters have a lean muscularity that lends itself more for speed/endurance than brute strength. Bernthal's build is more realistic for the screen. (Thomas Jane had a similar look.)

Later versions of the character (done by Tim Bradstreet) portray him with a high hairline, hair pulled back tight and normal proportions, i.e. no big, bulging muscles. Is this the version you are talking about? I've never cared for this look. I always picture all that tight hair pulled back into a ponytail at the back. He looks more like the douchey guy working at the used vinyl record shop than a soldier. (I suppose that might work to his advantage though.)

So, overall, I think Bernthal mostly captures the physical essence of the character, if not every aspect of the comic book version which would look unrealistic anyway. I think the worst that could be said of him is that he's shorter than the comic version. (Bernthal is just short of 6 feet, whereas I picture the comic version about 6'4" or so.)


As for the 'dopey' acting, that's a matter of preference and style I guess. The series are set literally in the first year of the character. He repeatedly demonstrates that he's smarter than everyone else in the room when it comes to fire fights and tactics. He doesn't otherwise give too much away about what he's thinking. In the comics, he gets to make all sorts of comic book-y quips and asides... on screen they would just come off as hokey. None of the various versions of the Punisher did this... except for that one classic bit by Jane towards the end of his movie.

(I just watched the 3rd ep of the 2nd season. The bit where Frank goes after the hit squad in the forest... he's efficiently killing everyone in the woods. However, I thought he 'missed' that one big guy that he only wounds, and the guy goes down crying in pain. Took me a couple of beats to realize what Frank was really up to.)

(In the courtroom scene of S2 of Daredevil, where Frank realizes that Matt Murdock and DD are one and the same ... that was a masterful bit of acting by Bernthal.)

Personally, I think Bernthal and the writers have nailed the important bits of the character, and I'm disappointed that the series is cancelled. I doubt we'll see any depiction this good again. If it's resurrected by Disney, it will likely be with a new actor and/or watered down to the point of being pablum.


Just because these Marvel shows are becoming Disney properties doesn't mean they're going to turn them into Mickey Mouse shows. I'm holding out hopes that they let them roll as they are. They have to, or they're just going to die.


I'm hoping so too but there were reports that Marvel can't make any new series with the characters for three years(!) after they were cancelled by Netflix.

It doesn't bode well for seeing the various series continue with the same story and actors... :(