The Punisher via Netflix official trailer 2018
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The Punisher’s brutal gunplay ‘a mirror to society,’ says Jon Bernthal ahead of Season 2

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Dec 28, 2018, 2:54 PM EST

Frank Castle may have exorcised some long-simmering demons in The Punisher’s first TV outing, but the upcoming Season 2 of Marvel’s hit show reportedly won’t shy away from even more brutal gunplay as Netflix prepares for Frank’s January return.

Punisher star Jon Bernthal says his post-traumatic character’s reliance on firearms as the answer to all of New York’s corruption isn’t necessarily an example of art imitating life — but it’s definitely a reflection of the times, and it’s up to viewers to make their own judgments.

“[A]rt, when it’s done right, holds a mirror to society and makes you question it. And question yourself,” Bernthal told the press earlier this year from the Season 2 set, via Collider. “You shouldn’t attempt to spoon-feed answers or to preach. [Art should] make you look at yourself and hopefully present different sides to an argument and help make society or help make the viewer ask questions about the world in which they live.”

Deferring to the show’s writers for any bigger message about society’s tortured relationship with guns and violence, Bernthal added that he views his role in The Punisher as that of an artist, not a commentator. The idea, he said, is to make art for art’s sake, with no overt attempts at nudging fan opinion toward one side of a social debate.

“I tend to try and avoid art that is preachy and tells you how to think,” he said. “… To me, the mark of somebody who is strong, patriotic, tough is someone who has an open mind. Someone who is open to listening to all sides and not be steadfast and not be completely clinging to their own sense of ‘This is what is right and this is what is wrong.’ For me, what’s American to be open to all sides.”

Castle’s use of a pure ideology to justify such brutality created controversy when Season 1 debuted, with some news commentators and social media users questioning the show's timing in light of last year's Las Vegas mass shooting. But changing the underlying premise of what drives Castle as one of Marvel’s most conflicted antiheroes doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Season 2.

“This season he’s very much trying to figure out who he is,” said Bernthal. “I don’t think he’s ever been a guy too concerned with finding peace of mind or finding harmony or finding love. He’s sadly kind of at home in the blackness and in the darkness.”

The upcoming season returns Bernthal in the title role, alongside Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, and Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle. Joining the core cast for Season 2 are Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, Floriana Lima as Krista Dumont, Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix, and Corbin Bernsen and Annette O’Toole as Anderson and Eliza Schultz.

Deborah Ann Woll reportedly also will return to bring Daredevil’s Karen Page back into Frank’s world, despite that show's recent cancellation. Netflix hasn’t revealed the exact date when Season 2 will land, but look for The Punisher to return sometime in January, with 13 all-new episodes.