THE PUNISHER Casts Ben Barnes as Jigsaw

Looks like The Punisher is putting the pieces together.

Marvel has confirmed that Netflix's upcoming Daredevil spinoff series The Punisher has cast Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, better known to Marvel Comics fans as the villainous Jigsaw. Barnes will join Jon Bernthal as The Punisher/Frank Castle, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Micro, and Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, a Homeland Security agent vexed by Castle.

According to the press release, Billy Russo is described as "Frank’s Castle’s best friend from his days in the Special Forces.  He runs a successful private military corporation called 'Anvil.'"

Barnes, 35, is best known as Prince Caspian X in The Chronicles of Narnia films Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  His film appearances include Seventh Son, Dorian Gray, and Stardust, while his television appearances include Westworld, Sons of Liberty, and Doctors.

"I’m really excited about the cast we're assembling alongside Bernthal as Frank Castle," said showrunner and executive producer Steve Lightfoot.  "I look forward to watching Ben, Ebon and Amber embody these characters and breathe vivid life into the story we are crafting for this season of Marvel's The Punisher."

"We couldn’t be more thrilled about the remarkable talent joining Jon Bernthal in Marvel’s The Punisher," said Jeph Loeb, executive producer and Marvel’s Head of Television.  "Ebon, Ben and Amber are incredibly talented actors and we can’t wait to see them bring these characters to life."

Created in 1976 by Len Wein and Ross Andru, Jigsaw first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man (vol.1) #162. Kicked out by his abusive father at the age of ten, Billy Russo became a hitman for New York's criminal underworld, where his good looks garnered him the nickname "The Beaut."  After the botched gangland execution that inadvertently led to the Castle family being massacred, Russo was hired by Frank Costa to assassinate all those connected to the Castles.

Russo killed all of his targets but Frank Castle, who survived the bomb that Russo had planted in Castle's home.  Hours later, Castle (now the Punisher) tracked Russo down to a Maggia nightclub.  The Punisher gunned down all of Russo's associates, but left him alive to send a message to organized crime after knocking him through a glass pane, an act that reduced Russo's face to a jigsaw puzzle-like mess of scars.

Taking advantage of his now hideous visage, the formerly handsome gangster adopted the identity of Jigsaw, and attempted to frame the Punisher for murder.  However, the plan failed due to the intervention of Spider-Man and Nightcrawler. Spider-Man witnessed one of Jigsaw's murders, and one of his victims was an old friend of Nightcrawler.  Jigsaw later battled Spider-Man again.

After several encounters with the Punisher, Jigsaw was taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. While imprisoned, he was seemingly shot dead by the man that he and his girlfriend (who was actually undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Lynn Michaels) had brainwashed.  Jigsaw survived the attempt on his life, and was transferred to a "reprogramming asylum" by H.A.M.M.E.R.  He became part of the Hood's gang during the Secret Invasion event to assist in fending off the invading Skrulls, and rejoined again in the Dark Reign event to help attack the New Avengers.

Barnes will the second actor to portray Jigsaw in live-action, after Dominic West in the 2008 film Punisher: War Zone.  The character's name was changed to Billy "The Beaut" Russoti.

The Punisher is expected to air on Netflix sometime in 2017.

Posted on October 6, 2016 .