Jon Bernthal hopes The Punisher will spark a debate
James R | On 09, Nov 2017
Jon Bernthal has said that he hopes The Punisher will spark a debate about gun violence in the USA when it launches later this month.
Marvel’s Netflix series was reportedly set to be released in October, but was delayed, after a tragic shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead. Cancelling any planned promotions at New York Comic-Con, Netflix eventually announced the show would premiere on Friday 17th November. Even then, however, it arrives within days of another shooting in Texas, which took place on Sunday, killing at least 26 people.
The series follows violent vigilante Frank Castle, who is seeking revenge amid a conspiracy and the death of his family. With gun attacks occurring so frequently in America, it is hard to think of a good time to ever release the programme, but Bernthal has said that he hopes the series will bring about a much-needed conversation about “an unbelievable problem”.
Speaking to IndieWire following the premiere this week, he said that pushing back the premiere of the show out of respect in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas was “the right decision”.
“I turn on the TV yesterday and my heart just absolutely breaks for the tragedy that occurred in Texas, just a senseless, cowardly act,” he added. “My heart is broken for the tragedy that just enveloped a small town, where everyone knew each other, everyone is going to be touched by this. We put the show off because of one of these tragedies and in that short period of time, now there is another one.”
He added that Castle, a former Marine, is “a comic book character”, but that doesn’t make him a hero.
“I don’t believe in heroes, or villains, I just don’t,” he continued. “It’s not interesting to me, and it’s not real to me. I never wanted to lionize Frank Castle. What I wanted to show with him, more than anything, was his pain and his anguish and cost of violence, and the toll that it has taken on him.”
“There is no question that I am concerned with the desensitization of violence,” he added. “That is something that we should talk about, and we should address.”
That conversation will, he hopes, happen, as incidents such as the Texas shooting take place.
“If anything it just tells me, it re-intensifies the fact that we have an unbelievable problem here. I think that unfortunately people take a stand politically and are completely steadfast in their political position,” he explained. “Somehow that’s being confused with strength, rather than a real desire and ability to open themselves to the other side of this, and see merit on the other side of this thing, and that we can sit down like Americans and people who all want this to stop and try to figure out a way to do so.”
As for as The Punisher goes, Bernthal commented that “all sides of this debate” are represented within the series.
“I think that the absolute best quality that art can have is to hold a mirror to society, to make society question itself,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s art’s job to answer those questions, but if this show will spark debate, will highlight an unbelievable problem, make people think and talk about it, awesome. I think that’s great. We absolutely need to do that.”