While our review of Marvel’s The Punisher isn’t quite ready just yet, we finished our binge of the show this weekend. The show’s finale not only does its best to tie all the different story beats together, it sets up one of the character’s big villains, who we’re going to talk about below. If you’re puzzled as to who we’re talking about, jump past the gallery below to get the put the pieces together.
There are spoilers below, and you’ve been warned.
The Punisher has been around for over four decades. Since his origin as a Vietnam vet, the United States has taken part in a variety of conflicts all over the world that has left a steady trail of veterans that are more relevant to our modern setting than the original setting would’ve been. Not to mention that Castle would be using his senior discount when he stops for more ammo. Alongside that change, other elements of the story have shifted. One of those is the story of Billy Russo, one of the major players in the Punisher’s inaugural season and one of his most iconic recurring villains in the comics, Jigsaw.
No, not the guy from Saw.
In the Marvel comics the show pulls from, Billy Russo was a mafia hitman nicknamed “Billy the Beaut,” because his face was so aesthetically pleasing. The 2008 film Punisher: War Zone kept pretty close to the idea, making Russo a major player in the story but keeping him as a member of the crime family, rather than a simple hitman.
Billy Russo – Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Here, in the space of the show, the writers did something different, tying his origin and connection to Frank Castle into the story in a whole host of ways.
In Marvel’s The Punisher, Billy Russo is, like so many other members of the cast, a fellow veteran soldier, and one who was in Afghanistan with Castle, working in the same covert unit. After the war, Russo returned to America and founded a private military company meant to provide mercenary services and agent training, as well as doing some charitable work with his money. All this makes his shift in the latter half of the show that much more of a betrayal, setting up a long-lasting relationship between the two.
Billy Russo – Marvel’s The Punisher (2017)
If you watched Westworld and recognized actor Ben Barnes as Logan from that show, you might not have been surprised when it turned out he was a snake again. Unfortunately, Frank Castle hadn’t seen HBO’s sci-fi series, so he was caught unawares when it turned out Russo had been working with the CIA’s rogue agent all along. This all culminates in a battle at the carousel where Castle’s family was gunned down, with the two fighting with guns, knives, and eventually fists to the bitter end. Frank eventually gets the upper hand and goes a little crazy, smashing Russo’s face into a mirror and grinding his face along it slicing the man’s perfect face to shreds in the process.
Billy Russo – The Punisher, Marvel Comics
While we’re still working on our guesses for what the second season of The Punisher will be about, it seems like Jigsaw is going to play a big role, and Ben Barnes is likely to be spending plenty of time in the makeup chair each morning before shooting, because he’s going to have one ugly mug when all is said and done.
Marvel’s The Punisher is on Netflix right now.