Who Is Sam Stein On 'The Punisher'? The Homeland Security Agent May Be Tracking The Violent Vigilante
As Frank Castle goes from Daredevil supporting character to leading role in his own show, a collection of new characters are joining him to flesh out this new world. One of these characters, Homeland Security agent Sam Stein on The Punisher, may take some umbrage with Castle's (Jon Berthal) shoot-first approach to justice. Marvel comics can help provide some clues to some of these characters, but the agent, played by Michael Nathanson from The Wolf Of Wall Street, appears to be an original character. This agent seems to be a Netflix original.
The Punisher isn't like many of the other heroes you'll find in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While every superhero has a tendency to get dark and more than a little broody at times, Frank Castle is driven by darkness — specifically the murder of his family and the corruption in the institution he served. Where Marvel's heroes are driven by guilt or doing right and its villains are usually driven by desire for power, Frank Castle's motivation is almost exclusively revenge. Basically, Frank Castle has nothing in common with a relatively mild-mannered federal agent, which Sam Stein might be. Then again, Frank also led a relatively normal life before his world was blown to pieces.
In production photos and trailers from The Punisher, Sam is most often seen alongside Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), a fellow Homeland Security agent who crosses paths with Frank Castle. The Department Of Homeland Security is a very specific government agency to include in a piece of fiction. And it may be Frank's overseas service or the concept of domestic terrorism that brings Dinah and Sam into the story. In the photo above, it looks like Dinah and Sam are executing some type of raid, though it's unclear who's on the other side of that packing crate — Frank Castle, or someone else.
According to their official website, the Department of Homeland Security has a dedicated mission of "ensuring a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards." Like Dinah probably, Sam has dedicated his career to keeping the US safe and defusing terrorist plots. But does he consider Frank to be a terrorist? The Punisher accumulated quite the body count during his time as a vigilante in Daredevil. But chances are that when it comes to good and bad, Frank and Sam would find themselves on the same side, even if their methods are vastly different. Does Frank Castle come across these agents because they're looking for the same terrorist, or will Dinah and Sam be after Frank himself?
In a role crafted exclusively for the show, the character of Sam Stein is perfectly suited to either provide a major helping hand to Frank Castle or to be instrumental in attempts to take down the violent vigilante. And while his job may help somewhat in sussing out his character, there's always a chance that Sam might not be the patriot he seems to be.
For what it's worth, Bernthal told Entertainment Weekly that appearances are deceiving in the series. He said:
"During this show, nobody is who they appear to be… This season is much darker as it goes, it gets darker and darker and more visceral. The show takes you on this journey of Frank becoming more and more human again and then shutting off and shutting off and going back to what works for him, and the place where he kind of belongs, and I think that’s a place of solitude and of darkness and destruction. It’s going to get into as dark and as brutal a place as you’ve ever seen in the Marvel world, I can promise you that."
While Homeland Security must be a high-stress job to begin with, Sam Stein probably won't ever forget his brush with Frank Castle.