Jigsaw star Ben Barnes has responded to the cancellation of Netflix’s The Punisher. There had been three attempts to make The Punisher a movie franchise before his arrival on Netflix. The Punisher from 1989 featured Dolph Lundgren in the title role, but while the film had some well-shot action scenes, it suffered from a low budget and generic script. Tom Jane took on the role for 2004 reboot The Punisher, which tried and failed to blend a gritty action thriller with goofy comedy. Finally, Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone was an outlandish violent action film that has since become a cult favorite but received mixed reviews upon release, and is the lowest grossing Marvel film to date.
Jon Bernthal was cast as Frank Castle for the second season of Daredevil, with Castle cutting a bloody swath through New York in search of the men who murdered his family. Bernthal’s charismatic turn made him a fan favorite and a solo Punisher series soon got the green light at Netflix. While the show featured some great performances and stayed true to the darkness of the source material, The Punisher’s storylines often felt stretched too thin over the course of 13-episode seasons.
Prior to the release of The Punisher season two, a number of major Marvel shows were cancelled at Netflix such as Daredevil and Luke Cage. The writing seemed to on the wall for the future of the show, and yesterday it was finally confirmed both The Punisher and Jessica Jones were cancelled too. Now Ben Barnes, who played recurring villain Billy Russo/Jigsaw, has reacted to the end of the series on Instagram.
Russo was one of the most intriguing characters on the series, initially appearing to be Castle’s best friend before his part in the deaths of Frank’s family was revealed. Of course, fans of the comic knew Russo would eventually be hideously disfigured by the Punisher and morph in villain Jigsaw, but the show took a unique approach to the character. Russo’s scarring was downplayed in favor of him being psychologically damaged following the Punisher’s brutal assault, leaving him with no memory of his evil deeds and feeling he was the victim. Russo’s belief he was the hero was one of the most interesting aspects of season two, but even if the show had been renewed for another year, it’s unlikely Jigsaw would have returned again.
Jon Bernthal also posted his response to the end of The Punisher, and it’s a shame he might never get the chance to play the character again. The show had its faults but he was perfectly cast in the title role. That said, if the cancelled Netflix shows find a home elsewhere, he’s obviously the first actor in line.