Michael Ausiello over at TVLine is reporting that British actor Ben Barnes, who played the dashing Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia film adaptations, has been cast as a series regular for the first season of Marvel’s The Punisher. The Netflix show will, of course, feature Jon Bernthal reprising his role as Frank Castle, the ruthless vigilante known as the Punisher, from season 2 of Daredevil.
No word on the character Barnes (Sons of Liberty, Westworld) is playing, though Ausiello notes rumors that he might be Bobby Saint. Who, you might be asking.
Saint was one of the twin sons of John Travolta’s Howard Saint in the 2004 Punisher film starring Thomas Jane as Castle. James Carpinello played the two roles, with Bobby being the son killed by Castle in the drug sting gone awry to open the film, and brother John leading the hit that killed Castle’s family and led to him becoming the gun-toting one man army we all know and love.
Call us crazy, but this seems a bit of a stretch, considering the Saints had never appeared in the comics and were created solely for the film, which was less than enthusiastically received by critics and audiences. Why call back to the movie at all?
That’s a question that Jessica Chobot and the crew over at Nerdist News asked as they presented their own case that Barnes might instead by playing the character of Microchip. David Linus Lieberman is a genius level computer hacker who became Castle’s de facto “tech support,” earning the Microchip nickname. (He was sometimes referred to as Micro, as well.) At the end of Castle’s time on Daredevil, he broke into his former house and smashed a framed picture to recover a burned CD with the name “Micro” scrawled on it, so there could be some merit to this.
Of course, Micro was an overweight character who frequently struggled with his obesity. Barnes would be cast against type here if that bears out.
Nerdist News also tries to make the case that Micro could turn out to be the villain of the piece, but what would set these collaborators against one another?
How about another thought? What if Barnes is cast as Billy “the Beaut” Russo?
Russo is a pretty boy mob enforcer who is sent to kill Castle and anyone who knows him after the mob learns that Castle survived the hit attempt that killed his family. The Punisher catches up with Russo, takes out his crew, and smashes Russo’s face through a plate glass window to send a message to the mob that they can’t take him down. The horrific scars left by his injuries and the bad surgery to repair them led to Russo adopting the name Jigsaw. He’s considered the Punisher’s archenemy in the comics.
Jigsaw certainly seems more fitting for Barnes. Just as with the Bobby Saint rumor, though, Jigsaw was the featured villain in the even less well-received Punisher War Zone film from 2008, played by Dominic West. Why reuse either villain from the failed movies?
Well, Daredevil didn’t hesitate to use the Kingpin as its first season Big Bad, despite being featured in the much derided Ben Affleck film that they were hoping to move people past. If Fisk is Matt Murdock’s archenemy, why would they deny Frank Castle his?
Marvel’s The Punisher is expected to start production after The Defenders wraps up. No release date has been announced, but the show is expected to be premiere on Netflix at some point in 2017.