Agent Orange Raises Serious Questions On 'The Punisher' Series

by Ani Bundel

At this point Netflix has put out six Marvel series since 2015, seven if you count Daredevil and Daredevil Season 2 as separate. This is enough data that patterns are beginning to form in how the shows work over the course of thirteen episodes. (Or in the case of The Defenders, eight episodes.) One of the most striking is the way the show handles their Big Bads. Speaking of which, let's discuss this new show's Big Bad. Who is Agent Orange on The Punisher? And is he really the main Big Bad? Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Punisher Season 1.

That second question is the important one, because Marvel has a habit of introducing one antagonist at the start of every show who we think is the show's main Big Bad. Then, somewhere around the middle of the season, there's a twist in which it is revealed that the person we thought was the main villain isn't actually the "Big Bad." In Daredevil Season 1, Wilson Fisk was the "Big Bad," until he was sat down by Madame Gao, revealing he is merely a Medium-Sized Bad fish in a much larger pond that we thought. In Luke Cage, it was "Cottonmouth" Stokes who was the Big Bad, until the show revealed he was just an abused could-have-been musician, and then the real Big Bad, Mariah Dillard, aka "Black Mariah" did him in. In The Defenders, our Big Bad was Sigourney Weaver... until Electra did her in, much like Mariah did Cottonmouth.

In short, there's always a bigger bad right around the corner.


Frank Castle was actually the "Big Bad" for the start of Daredevil Season 2, who was then supplanted by another, and proven to be on the side of good. (Sort of.) So it's not surprising that our original antagonist, Agent Madani is supplanted in the same way by the time we get to episode 6. She has moved fully to the side of Castle, and now unknowingly is going against her on-again, off-again lover Billy Russo along with the man who's bugged her office, Agent Orange, who we learn is actually named William Rawlins.

Rawlins is a character straight out of the Marvel The Punisher comics. The show hews pretty closely to that character's story line. We first see him in Castle's flashbacks to Kandahar, as the CIA man in charge of the Black Ops unit that Castle was handpicked to join. He's the one who forced Castle, Russo and Gunner to torture and kill those prisoners Micro saw on the tape, and Madani is trying to find answers for.

When Castle goes to visit Gunner out in Kentucky, he asks why he taped the Black Ops torture and kill room, and Gunner reveals everything is bigger than Castle originally understood it to be. Agent Orange, Ray Schoonover (Castle's former commander who he killed in Daredevil Season 2) and the guy in charge of the morgue were using KIA marines and dead POW bodies to ship back tons of heroin to the states.

This explains how Schoonover became "The Blacksmith" and the biggest drug kingpin in NYC. It also puts a new twist in why Frank's family was killed in the Massacre at Central Park. It also explains why Rawlins is in such a bind to cover this all up, now that he's back in civilian life and moving up the chain at the CIA.

But why "Agent Orange?" Not sure. The DC character "Agent Orange" is actually a major Big Bad in the Green Lantern comics. But this is Marvel, Rawlins character has nothing to do with that one. Perhaps they just picked the name to needle the DCEU? Probably not. They probably just picked it because it sounded cool.

But will Agent Orange stay the Big Bad? Knowing the way Netflix's version of the MCU works, perhaps he should start watching his back.