While Marvel’s movies have often struggled to provide us with anything resembling a compelling villain, their Netflix TV shows have thrived. Big bads like Kingpin and Kilgrave have made for some of the most well-rounded, and sinister adversaries of any Marvel property. As a result, the streaming service has gained something of a reputation as the studio’s exclusive home for the best bad guys they have to offer. It’s something that pervades every series they have planned, and their upcoming Punisher series starring Jon Bernthal is no exception. The violent antihero has a long history of interesting villains in the comics, leading us to wonder: Who’s going to make an appearance once his standalone series kicks off?
Every hero has their main bad guy counterpart. Thor has Loki, Captain America has Red Skull, and in the case of the Punisher, he has Jigsaw. The disfigured former gun-for-hire is known for his lifelong revenge-quest against Frank Castle, after having his face torn apart when the Punisher threw him through a plate glass window.
As the primary adversary in the comics, it would make sense to establish him early on in the life of the Netflix series, much in the same way Daredevil did with Kingpin in its first season. Ben Barnes will be filling the role in the first season of The Punisher, known most recently as Logan in Westworld‘s own debut run of episodes.
Despite mostly being associated with Spider-Man and Daredevil in Marvel’s comics, Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) has had a number of encounters with the Punisher throughout his character’s history. Most recently, we saw the two go head-to-head in Season 2 of Daredevil, with Kingpin manipulating Frank Castle into eliminating his competition in prison. The two clearly have some bad blood to work out, and given that Vincent D’Onofrio has been a revelation as Fisk, it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to incorporate him across multiple shows.
Tombstone may not be a criminal mastermind, but he’s an interesting foil for Punisher nonetheless. An albino African-American (something that might have to be tweaked for TV), the fearsome mob enforcer stands at almost seven feet tall. He’s often seen appearing in Marvel’s Spider-Man comics, but there’s one particular arc that shows him being defeated by a Daredevil/Frank Castle team-up. All in all, his criminal background and imposing physical presence make him a good fit for the Punisher series.
4. The Blacksmith
We were given a peek inside the Punisher’s backstory in Season 2 of Daredevil, showing us how his family was gunned down in a heroin deal gone bad, initiated by a mysterious drug lord known only as the Blacksmith. It was implied later on that Colonel Ray Schoonover (Clancy Brown), the commanding officer for Frank Castle during his time in the military, was actually the Blacksmith himself. That said, it was never explicitly stated at any point, meaning that the real Blacksmith could be alive and well somewhere, and out for blood after Castle put a bullet in Schoonover’s head and dismantled the drug smuggling operation.
Barracuda is known in Marvel’s comic series as one of the most brutal, hardcore villains they have to offer. Throughout his run, he’s done everything from snorting cocaine off of a severed head, to participating in straight up cannibalism. He was pulled from prison as a young man and conscripted for the Green Berets, committing all manner of atrocities for the CIA. He even facilitated drug running in Costa Rica to assist the Contras. In his first encounter with the Punisher, he loses an eye and the fingers on his right hand, and yet still manages to defeat him, throwing him into shark-infested waters in hopes of granting Frank Castle a slow and painful death. Castle of course, escapes, with Barracuda having been firmly established as a worthy adversary.
6. William Rawlins
We actually already know that William Rawlins will be appearing in Netflix’s Punisher series, set to be played by Paul Schulze. Billed as “a high-ranking member of the CIA,” he’s known in the comics for his double-dealing and founding of a terrorist cell established on the orders of a rogue group of U.S. military generals. He later meets an untimely end at the hands of Frank Castle in an airport bathroom, so keep an eye out on the Netflix series, assuming Marvel decides to keep with the source material.
7. The Holy
A villain with moral complexity is far more interesting than your run-of-the-mill psychopath. Enter the Holy, a priest driven to kill criminals in the name of God. With his trademark ax in hand, he goes on a murderous rampage, begging God for forgiveness after each kill. He’s soon inspired by the Punisher to form his own team of vigilante enforcers, but after asking Frank Castle to lead their merry band, Castle guns them down, labeling the Holy a dangerous fanatic.
8. Ma Gnucci
Ma Gnucci is one of the more ridiculous characters in the Punisher’s cadre of baddies, but she’s worth mentioning all the same. The matriarch of the Gnucci crime family, her operation is targeted by Frank Castle, who embarks on a mission to dismantle it piece by piece. Her various retaliatory efforts don’t go well. At one point she finds herself dismembered by an escaped polar bear after the Punisher sics captive zoo animals on her. Now just try and tell us that wouldn’t make for good television.
9. The Russian
The Russian may not be the smartest bad guy, and yet his sheer size and stature makes him a terrifying opponent for the Punisher. His reputation precedes him too, as a nigh-indestructible assassin-for-hire with incredible strength. A knockdown drag-out brawl between him and Bernthal’s Punisher would make for one hell of an on-screen fight. All we need is for Netflix to go ahead and see if Dolph Lundgren can make that a reality.
Bullseye has a lengthy history as one of Daredevil’s prime villains, although it’s worth noting he’s tangled with the Punisher a handful of times as well. He makes an intriguing match for Frank Castle in one-on-one battle, utilizing every manner of sharpened weapons at his disposal. And what better way to tease at a future appearance in Daredevil than to feature him, however briefly, in The Punisher?
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