The fact that fundamentalist alt-right wingnuts like to march around while wearing Punisher skulls (as seen at the 2017 white supremacy rally in Charlottesville) is something that Jon Bernthal, the actor who plays the actual Punisher in the Netflix/Marvel series, has very little patience for. “Fuck them,” he told Esquire last year. But it’s an interesting conundrum in today’s contentious political climate: How do you approach a character who is a gun-toting, violence-dealing war veteran vigilante without setting Frank Castle up to be a hero for the alt-right movement? And based on everything we’re hearing about the upcoming second season of The Punisher, it seems the show has found its answer: by pitting Frank Castle against an actual Christian Fundamentalist alt-right villain. And no, it’s not Jigsaw.
Though a lot of attention has been given to the return of Ben Barnes as Billy Russo in season two, the latest trailer for the upcoming season offers a look at another bad guy who will be teaming up with Russo to go after their common enemy, Frank Castle: John Pilgrim, played by Josh Stewart.
(Also, can we give props for the excellent use of the Alice In Chains song “Would?” in this promo, because DAMN that’s a banger)
Pilgrim is being described as an alt-right fundamentalist, and when asked about the character, Stewart had this to say (per Collider):
John Pilgrim is a fairly quiet, still person. On the exterior a man who is a Christian fundamentalist who had sort of a rage, a violent side of him. It’s buried deep. I think where this is all headed, that sort of side of him is going to resurface a bit.
Outlets have been speculating that Pilgrim is based on a mysterious and brutal minor villain from the comics called The Mennonite — and since the character only appeared in a couple of issues before being dispatched by Frank Castle, he’s largely a (rather convenient) blank slate. But setting up a different poster boy for fundamentalists isn’t enough, and it seems clear that some work will also be going into exploring what sets Frank himself — his ideals, his violence — apart. Showrunner Steve Lightfoot has said that a theme this season will be “Frank really adopting the mantle of The Punisher,” and the season seems to start with Frank going on a little road trip to find himself after the events of last season (involving a sequence that looks like an unintentional, ultra-violent sequel to the movie Road House, which is FINE). His personal war is over — so what will the Punisher fight for now?
We’ll find out on January 18th when Netflix launches the new season, but for now they’ve released a new poster and images to go along with the trailer to tide us over.
Trouble will find him one way or another. Trailer tomorrow.ðŸ’€ pic.twitter.com/7rDMUc8Ist— The Punisher (@ThePunisher) January 9, 2019