The moment Ben Barnes stepped on screen as Billy Russo in Netflix’s The Punisher, comic fans realised that it was only a matter of time before he ended up becoming one of the antihero’s most well-known nemeses, the villain known as Jigsaw.
But when we caught up with Barnes during a recent visit to The Punisher’s set during the second season’s filming, he was careful to explain that the path to full-on villainy in his upcoming arc on the show is going to be nuanced, and somewhat different than its comics counterpart.
While Billy’s disfigurement is still a factor in what pushes him to become Jigsaw, The Punisher is much more interested in exploring the fragmented-ness of Billy’s psyche in order to keep the show feeling grounded:
At the end of the first season, we hear the doctors sort of saying that that Ben’s undergone surgery for stab wounds and wounds on his face, so he’s had a plastic surgeon try to fix him.
We’re talking abut a deeply narcissistic character—in season one—whose mask of appeal in terms of doing his hair and the nice suits and all that kind of stuff has been stripped away from him. It’s about what he sees when he looks in the mirror rather than necessarily what other people see, because we didn’t want [Billy’s story] to be a horror show.
It’s something more internal. We don’t refer to the character as Jigsaw in the series, but he very much has a jigsaw puzzle in his brain. It’s not about his face, it’s about the psychological, which is really something we wanted to focus on this season.
Though Jigsaw’s very much going to be a major thorn in Frank Castle’s side in the new season, Barnes also insisted that the show is also set to really focus on Jigsaw’s personal predicament as a means of humanising him:
It’s not just about the physical. He’s had his head very much traumatized in the same way that many many veterans have been and he’s trying to deal with that. He’s got brain damage and severe issues with his memory. He’s trying to piece together what happened and who he is, and at one point the metaphor is used that his brain is the jigsaw they’re trying to put back together.
With Netflix’s partnership with Marvel seeming all but over with, this is probably going to be The Punisher’s last shot at wowing audiences and figuring out how (if at all) the character should fit into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
From the sounds of it, the show’s creative team knows that now’s the time to shine by getting a little experimental with things, and it’s only a matter of time until we can figure out whether they gambit’s going to pay off. We’re still waiting to hear just when The Punisher season two will drop on Netflix.