The Punisher star Jon Bernthal has made his feelings about the character’s alt-right fans loud and clear. Given the hot button issue of gun control in America, as well as the overwhelming amount of mass shootings that occur on a yearly basis, a modern iteration of Frank Castle was always going to be a controversial figure. After three separate but equally underwhelming movie adaptations, Marvel’s hyper-violent antihero was given new life in 2016, appearing in season 2 of the hit Netflix series, Daredevil. Bernthal’s breakout performance in the role impressed Netflix enough that they greenlit a solo series, which debuted this past November.
The first season of The Punisher actually confronted many of its most controversial aspects head-on. Just how successful it was in doing so is a matter of opinion, but issues like gun control and PTSD amongst war veterans were prominently featured throughout the initial 13 episode run. (These topics were probably a bit more black and white than they could have been, while simultaneously delivering a muddied message about the gun control debate itself.)
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Jon Bernthal, however, has been more than clear about where he stands personally. In a recent interview with Esquire, he opened up about being a gun owner himself, while stressing the need for more open conversations on both sides of the political aisle. “Should there be a way that a guy with mental issues like the asshole in Texas can’t get guns? Absolutely. We have to have a dialogue, and that’s not happening.” And when he was asked about the Punisher’s skull insignia being brandished by alt-right white supremacists, Bernthal’s message is even more clear: “F— them.”
Bernthal has previously admitted that he was hesitant to take on the role that would likely define his career. He’s also expressed hopes that the series would in fact further the debate on gun control by exploring the various sides of the controversy. Again, how effective it was is entirely up to you. (Perhaps the decision to introduce a random, unlikable Senator to stand as the loudest voice for strict gun control laws while he was being hunted by a PTSD-suffering veteran who never should have been able to access a weapon was intentionally vague?)
In any case, should the showrunners behind The Punisher decide to clarify their position on these contentious topics, they’ll get their chance soon enough. Season 2 will likely start filming later this year. As for the alt-righters, well, we’ll just let Foggy Nelson clarify Screen Rant’s stance.
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