Why Frank’s New ‘Punisher’ Bromance May Not Last
Netflix's newest Marvel series takes a supporting player from Daredevil Season 2 and puts him front and center, surrounding him with a brand new cast of colorful characters with odd monikers like Agent Orange and Micro. Speaking of the latter, is Micro a good guy in The Punisher, or a bad guy? With a name like that, you almost expect a cackling super-villain who controls technology and constantly thwarts our hero's efforts while pursuing world domination. If so, then the character played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls) will probably surprise you. Spoilers for Episodes 1-6.
Ominous codename notwithstanding, Micro isn't really a bad guy — unless you're Frank Castle. His real name is David Lieberman, and before he went into hiding and adopted his nom-de-plume, he was a boring government employee, an analyst for the National Security Agency with a loving wife and two young children at home in the boring suburbs. So why is he holed up in an abandoned warehouse aiding a violent vigilante in his quest for vengeance?
David's life changed forever when he was sent a video file titled "zubair_interrogation.mp4," which depicted a group of masked American soldiers interrogating, torturing, and ultimately executing an innocent man. The victim was Ahmad Zubair, an Afghani police officer (and partner to Homeland Security agent Dinah Madani) accused and assassinated for supposedly being a terrorist. The masked men were members of Cerberus, a covert ops team operating in the Middle East without Congressional approval. And the person who sent David the video was a member of that team who had grown a conscience and wanted to expose the truth.
Unfortunately for Frank Castle — who was also a member of Cerberus — the commanding officer (William Rawlins, aka Agent Orange) assumed he was the leak, and set out to eliminate both him and David to tie up loose ends. Frank's family wound up killed in the crossfire and David faked his own death, sending both men into hiding and on colliding paths of revenge against Agent Orange.
But just because they're nominally on the same side doesn't mean that David and Frank always get along. Neither one knew the other until Micro drew the Punisher into his fight against Cerberus… and the latter only let himself be recruited with utmost reluctance. Having executed everyone who had a direct hand in his family's death, Frank was ready to live the rest of his life in (relative) peace and quiet; it took some forceful urging on David's part to convince Frank to help him take down the people actually responsible for his family's death rather than just the men who pulled the trigger.
The initial friction in their relationship isn't helped by the fact that Frank is steadily growing closer with David's wife, Sarah. Given that they think he's dead, David can never visit his family lest he put them in danger; but he continues to keep an eye on them thanks to a number of cameras planted around the house. Frank has no such compunction about house calls, setting up a planned "accidental" run-in with Sarah in order to draw Micro out into the open, and then continuing to drop in on and bond with David's wife and kids as a replacement family of sorts for the one he lost.
It's funny to watch two men who should be on the same side continually butt heads; but it's also painful to watch as David's resentment over Frank's relationship with his wife continue to grow. That push-and-pull, Moss-Bachrach tells Bustle, is always there.
"They’re brought together by common enemies," the actor says. "And obviously Frank Castle is unpredictable and untrustworthy and very volatile. So the relationship is like day to day, you never know what you’re going to get, whether he’s going to strangle you or help you out. And that was a very exciting dynamic to play, because you’re just constantly, ‘Where am i? Where are we now? Can I trust you? Can you trust me?’"
But at the end of the day, their circumstances and shared loneliness may be forming a more lasting bond. And Moss-Bachrach was excited to develop that too.
"I can tell you that one hopefulness that I found [in Punisher] is this sort of unexpected storyline of this complicated male friendship between Frank and David," he says. "There’s love between these guys and connections there, and I think that’s very optimistic, especially in terms of Frank’s development — his ability to connect to people and let people in."
While it's not inaccurate to say Micro is a good guy at the moment, circumstances are unstable and unpredictable enough that that could change at any time. But hopefully this strange partnership will stay in tact through the show's debut season.
Additional reporting by Sage Young