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Marvel Television executive vice president Jeph Loeb is all too open about why, of all the comic book adaptations he currently produces for television, showrunner Stephen Lightfoot’s “The Punisher” is one of the most complicated. In the gritty Netflix series, avenging angel Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) has chosen to channel his grief over losing his family into an all-consuming vengeance quest.
“The greatest challenge of the Punisher character is that you have someone who lives in the world of the gray, and you have someone whose immediate answer to many situations is one of real violence,” Loeb said. “He’s very disturbed as a character, he’s very damaged as a character. And so, we happen to think that the take that Steve brings to it and the way that Jon plays the character enables us to see him in a light that you could root for him, I don’t know that necessarily you understand him or agree with him, but if we put him in the right situation, you want him to win, and that’s important.”
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Not that Frank doesn’t have plenty going on. Lightfoot knew that while Season 1 would have to be about Frank’s ongoing grief over the loss of his family, Season 2 would have to be different. “One thing that I had going into Season 2 was, it can’t be that again,” he said. “There can’t be someone else that was there that day that he forgot about. It needed to broaden out from that.“
Lightfoot pointed to Bernthal’s approach as especially important in that equation. “There’s no vanity in his acting, and he’s not too worried about being liked all the time,” he said. “He’s very happy to take Frank to a place where he might lose the audience, because Jon didn’t want him to be the hero all...
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