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Rising Star Jon Bernthal is Heading to the Moon

By  · Published on September 1st, 2017

No, Marvel is not making a ‘Space: Punisher’ movie.

The thought of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle rampaging through space criminals is as good as fantasizing about movies gets. Maybe it’ll happen someday if the stars align to make dreams come true. But for now, at least we get to see him head space bound in a biopic based on a real life NASA hero.

First Man will chronicle the true story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and his journey to becoming the first person to step foot on the Moon’s surface. Ryan Gosling is set to play the famous space traveler, but we’re here to talk about Bernthal, who’s in negotiations to play Dave Scott, the astronaut who accompanied Armstrong on the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. Scott stepped foot on the moon himself in 1971 as part of Apollo 15, so there’s a potential sequel right there.

In addition to Gosling starring, the film will be directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land) from a screenplay by the Oscar-winner Josh Singer (Spotlight). Armstrong and Scott’s space antics were giant leaps for mankind. Could First Man be the next giant leap for Bernthal’s quest towards Hollywood super stardom?

Bernthal’s stock is on the rise. Since catching wide attention for his turn as Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead, he’s boosted his profile through supporting roles in movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, Sicario, and The Accountant. And even though the bar wasn’t exactly considerably high before, his portrayal as Frank Castle/The Punisher in Netflix’s Daredevil went down a storm and is by far the best onscreen version of the character to date. 

This latest news, however, comes off the back of an amazing summer which saw the actor impress in a string of critically acclaimed movies. 

First up was Baby Driver, which is one of this year’s most surprising box office success stories and a 2017 highlight in general. Here, Bernthal appears alongside a strong ensemble cast featuring Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx under the guidance of Edgar Wright. For film fans, seeing this movie do so well felt like a victory for cinema. And while I’m not a prophet by any means, I’m predicting it will appear on several best of lists come December.

Next up was Taylor Sheridan’s directorial debut, Wind River, which was nominated for three awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (winning one) and has received praise across the board. I haven’t seen the movie yet to comment on Bernthal’s performance, but its overall reception indicates that it’s a worthwhile project to be associated with.

Shot Caller, on the other hand, is a low-budget prison drama that’s unfortunately floated under the radar since its release earlier this month, but it’ll undoubtedly go down as one of 2017s overlooked gems. While far from the most original movie of the year, it’s a compelling character-driven, Breaking Bad-esque crime story with blood and dirt in its nails. Bernthal is once again featured in a supporting role, this time as a scummy criminal lowlife, but it’s another strong outing that complements his gritty sensibilities. 

Finally, Pilgrimage saw him star alongside Spider-Man’s Tom Holland in a violent medieval thriller about a group of monks tasked with transporting a holy relic from Ireland to Rome. In the film, Bernthal plays a mute whose combat ability more than makes up for his lack of conversational skills. Pilgrimage might not be the standout entry from the summer of Bernthal (it’s the only one to score under 80% on Rotten Tomatoes), but his intense, physical performance commands every scene he’s in and elevates proceedings significantly. What would otherwise be an average movie turns out to be a pretty good one because of him.

Up next is The Punisher, the highly-anticipated Daredevil spinoff series which will see the actor reprise the role as Marvel’s unhinged vigilante. It’s the series we’ve wanted from the Marvel/Netflix collaboration since Castle showed up in the hospital unleashing havoc in Daredevil Season 2. Now we get to spend several episodes with the character and it can’t come soon enough.

This one is exciting for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s an entire series dedicated to the Punisher. For fans, that’s a dream come true, especially considering the three live-action Punisher movies are considered a mixed bag. Secondly, the series will allow Bernthal to get his teeth sunk into some meaty material in a high profile role where he’s front and center. 

Finally, we can hopefully expect the Sweet Virginia before the year is out. The film, which premièred at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, was described by Variety as “one of the year’s best thrillers” and compared to the the Coen brothers’ neo-noir Blood Simple.

All in all, it’s been a pretty great year for Jon Bernthal. He’s once again shown a knack for picking tasteful projects and the world is finally giving him some long-overdue appreciation. Long may it continue.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.