The Punisher has an interesting history in Marvel comics, beginning as a Spider-Man villain before being gradually turned into an anti-hero. His origin story is well known by now: Frank Castle, a former soldier, finds his family deceased after a mob hit that was meant for him. Using this grief to fuel his vengeance, he set out to terminate pretty much every violent criminal he could find. This, obviously, is a distortion of justice, and his rehabilitation into something resembling a hero embraced even by some cops bothers his creator, Gerry Conway.
One of the Punisher’s main villains (after he stopped being portrayed as a villain himself) is Jigsaw, a maniacal crime boss named Billy Russo who used to be a pretty boy before his face was disfigured. In the Netflix, show, these two characters (played by Jon Bernthal and Ben Barnes, respectively) are depicted as old war buddies, who served on the same covert sniper squad. Much of the plot of the first season revolves around Frank Castle realizing that his former best friend sold him out to their military higher-ups, which led to his family’s destruction.
The first season finds Billy Russo before his disfiguration; a more charming and sneaky version of the character. Because neither of the two characters have superpowers, their abilities are very similar, even receiving the same training in the show. However, there are a few tricks, natural talents, and advantages that Jigsaw has over the Punisher, and this list compiles them all.
These are 20 Things Jigsaw Can Do (That Punisher Can’t).
20 Pelt Man
There have been several crossovers between Marvel and DC characters, one of which was the Amalgam Universe, a joint publishing venture by the two companies (that went defunct very quickly). This universe’s gimmick was amalgamations (fusions) of two characters from both DC and Marvel into one.
In this universe, the Punisher was named Trevor Castle, as he was an amalgamation of Steve Trevor and Frank Castle. Jigsaw had a much stranger time, as he was fused with DC’s Cheetah supervillain to create Pelt Man. Thus, in this reality, Jigsaw had access to Cheetah’s superpowers of heightened agility and senses, not to mention the claws and fangs. We’re not sure we envy Pelt Man, but hey, they’re powers the Punisher has never had.
19 Be a womanizer
Jigsaw may have gotten his name because his face resembles a jigsaw puzzle, but in the days before his injuries he was quite handsome. Anyone who watched the first season of Netflix’s The Punisher remembers just how well-groomed and well-dressed Ben Barnes was as Billy Russo– not to mention his relationship with Amber Rose Revah’s Detective Madani.
Frank Castle, on the other hand, has never been what anyone would call a player. Even before he became a revenge-obsessed vigilante, Castle was never a pretty boy. In all his incarnations, the Punisher has never been as attractive as Billy “the Beaut” Russo. Heck, even with his scars in season two, Ben Barnes is still the more handsome man.
18 Run an organization
Jigsaw has had many different incarnations through the comics and on screen, and the majority of them depict him involved in organized crime. Even the ones that don’t, like his appearance in the Netflix series, often have him in charge of some other kind of organization. In the case of the show, it’s a private security firm.
This is an ability that Jigsaw can lord over Punisher, as Frank Castle has always been a loner. The Punisher is a great tactician, but he’s not much of a leader, and Billy Russo takes to command easily. Can you imagine if Frank Castle tried to run an organization like Anvil? We’re guessing it wouldn’t do quite so well.
17 Be charming
Billy “the Beaut” Russo got that nickname because he used to be handsome, a ladies’ man. He wasn’t just a pretty face, though: he also knew how to smooth talk, a skill that Frank Castle never mastered. This skill was on full display in The Punisher’s first season, as Ben Barnes’ Russo talked his way out of several sticky situations (not to mention into the arms of Detective Madani).
While the Punisher is not what anyone would call “eloquent,” Russo knew how to make himself look good in pretty much every conversation. Russo was always popular, always the life of the party– at least before the Punisher messed his face up so badly that it turned him into Jigsaw. It would be a mistake to think he forgot how to be charming after his injuries.
Frank Castle is many things, but no one would ever accuse the Punisher of being a liar. While he might occasionally do so to a police officer to stay out of jail or to normal people about his secret identity, Frank Castle is generally very truthful about his quest for vengeance. He just doesn’t seem capable of maintaining big lies for very long.
Billy Russo, on the other hand, has been shown to be capable of lying to his friends and enemies alike. In just the Netflix show alone, Billy lies to his best friend, to his lover, to the press, and pretty much everyone else on the show. That’s just one show– we’re not even including his comics history. It’s safe to say this is something he’s much better at compared to the Punisher.
15 Be part of a team
Billy Russo is first and foremost a very selfish man, one who thinks about his own wellbeing at all times and not much else. There’s also the small fact of his being a violent supervillain called Jigsaw. Yet, despite these traits, he is somehow better at being part of a team than the supposed hero, Punisher.
The Punisher has never done well on teams, though some comics writers have tried to force him into that role. It usually ends up with him offing somebody he shouldn’t have or being too violent in general– but Jigsaw has the advantage of being a bad guy, and his teams don’t generally have those scruples. Whether it’s the mafia, supervillain alliances, or other organized crime, Jigsaw is happy to work with a team to bring down heroes.
14 Keep his head down
Part of the narrative of The Punisher’s first season comes from Frank Castle’s relationship with Billy Russo, often flashing back to their time spent in the war on the same squad. Castle eventually realizes their unit is being used by corrupt leadership, and he gets so angry he assaults a superior officer.
The twist is that Russo had actually realized their squad was dirty long before Castle did– he just didn’t say anything. He knew the consequences of speaking out far outweighed any benefit to him, so he kept his head down. Castle’s inability to do the same speaks volumes about the differences between the characters– only one of them can put his morals aside for personal gain.
The Punisher is not someone you would call “unpredictable.” Frank Castle pretty much moves in straight lines, taking down whatever target is in front of him. He can be stealthy, but he’s not really creative. Jigsaw takes a different approach to tactics, and his outside-the-box thinking is, according to the comics, what makes him such a difficult opponent for the Punisher to deal with.
Jigsaw is unorthodox, charismatic, and completely selfish, which makes it easy for him to attract goons to do his bidding without worrying about their safety. He has tried all manner of schemes in his vendetta against the Punisher, who sometimes needs the help of other superheroes just to untangle Jigsaw’s nefarious plots.
12 Gather henchmen
One of the main tenets of the Punisher as an antihero and vigilante is that he pretty much works alone. He’ll occasionally team up with another superhero, but never for a long time, as his only teammates are people like Micro who are really just running support. He does not have anything approaching what one might call underlings.
Jigsaw, on the other hand, never runs out of henchmen, because even if worse comes to worst, there are always plenty of people who hate the Punisher. In that specific brand of comic book logic, there is a never-ending stream of baddies always willing to take on the positively suicidal task of fighting the Punisher. It sure works out for Jigsaw, though.
11 Wrist blade
One of Billy Russo’s signature moves in the first season of The Punisher was a sneaky little blade he kept hidden up his sleeve. The vast majority of Russo’s arsenal is pretty much identical to the Punisher’s– they even use the same combat knives– but this is one thing that set him apart.
We know what you’re thinking, and yes, Frank Castle could wear a blade on his wrist in the same way. Castle is intrinsically less sneaky than Russo, making him much less likely to do something so underhanded. We know he’s physically capable of doing the same, but his personality differences pretty much amounts to the opposite. Jigsaw keeps a hidden blade– Castle keeps his where everyone can see.
10 Access to money
This one is fairly simple: Billy Russo is a successful businessman, and Frank Castle is not. Jigsaw, both in the comics and on screen, is always connected to a lucrative organization, be it the mob or a legal private security firm. This means he pretty much always has money, and Castle pretty much never does.
In the Netflix show, Castle has to shake down a local arms dealer to get his gear back, because he just doesn’t have the money to buy it for himself. Lucky for him, he still has access to an arsenal, but Russo’s money backs him up in all sorts of other ways, from armored cars to pretty much unlimited goons to bribing influential figures. He’s no Tony Stark, but he definitely has access to more funds than the Punisher.
9 Betray his friends
Say what you will about Frank Castle, but once he makes up his mind about something, there’s no going back. That extends to his friends and allies, to whom he is extremely loyal. Jigsaw, on the other hand, wouldn’t think twice about double-crossing his friends for his own sake.
The obvious example of this is the Netflix TV series, where Billy Russo knowingly let his former superiors carry out a hit on Castle and his family. Betrayal runs through all his stories, but this one is especially cutting because Frank really, actually trusted Billy. Not only does Russo stab the Punisher in the back, he twists the knife more than a few times.
Jigsaw has always had a complicated relationship with the afterlife, as his villain origin story revolves around him getting disfigured, whether it was by falling in a glass-crushing machine or a grenade or whatever else. It turns out that, much like seemingly every other comics character, he’s come back from the afterlife more than once.
There was the time that Jigsaw harassed Frank Castle in the afterlife of Earth-9997, coming back no matter how many times Castle bumped him off. There was also Jigsaw 2099, who wasn’t Billy Russo at all, but a Frankenstein’s monster made of machine and animal parts. The Punisher is probably happy he doesn’t have this ability.
7 Military-grade exoskeleton
Perhaps at odds with his image as a normal gangster who just happens to have a messed-up face, there are, of course, a few iterations of Jigsaw that get much weirder. Because these are comics we’re talking about, it just wouldn’t make sense if this supervillain didn’t have a few appearances where he used a metal exoskeleton mounted with guns against the Punisher.
Even ignoring the half-machine Jigsaw 2099, the main continuity’s Jigsaw has apparently delved into the use of exoskeletons to mount weapons onto his body. This suit included guns, explosives, and blades, and proved an issue for anyone that had to fight against it, something the Punisher never stooped to.
6 Demon worship
In the long and confusing history of Marvel comics, pretty much every character has some head-scratching choices. Jigsaw may be a supervillain, but even he isn’t immune to that, since he once teamed up with a guy who called himself “the Rev” who said he worshipped Lucifer during the Endless War storyline.
Weirdly, that “Lucifer” actually ended up being the sorcerer Belasco, and the Rev didn’t really reappear in any comics after that. Somehow, his run-in with the demon worshipper made Jigsaw warm up to the whole concept, so if he ever wanted to try it out, that’d be one advantage over the Punisher he’d have in his back pocket.
5 Work for Al Capone
Many of Jigsaw’s incarnations across media have him working in organized crime, and a few of those have him be an old-fashioned mafioso-style gangster. The film Punisher: War Zone notably played into this side of the character. The comic series Punisher Noir took that idea a bit further when they had Billy Russo literally work for Al Capone himself.
Punisher Noir retells the Punisher origin story in the Roaring Twenties, with Frank Castle becoming Frank Castelione, Jr, who sees his father terminated by a mobster. Jigsaw is one of the men responsible for Frank’s father’s demise, ordered by Capone himself. It’s safe to say the Punisher never got the opportunity to work with that guy.
4 Ally with the Joker
Weirdly enough, Jigsaw has featured in multiple different Marvel/DC crossover events, because the writers seem to really like him. There were two different Batman/Punisher crossover series, and Jigsaw teamed up with none other than the Joker in each one to fight the two superheroes.
Neither of the two villains seem the type to have lasting partnerships, but the Joker is actually a pretty good friend to ol’ Billy Russo, even getting a plastic surgeon to fix Billy’s face. They’re an effective team, taking over Gotham together, but not quite as effective as Batman and the Punisher, who of course end up taking down the villains– and destroying Billy’s face again.
3 Work within the system
One huge advantage Jigsaw has over the Punisher is that he’s actually much more comfortable working within the legal system than his foe. Frank Castle, in most iterations, is legally deceased, which means he can’t generally rely on the authorities for any kind of assistance.
You might think that Jigsaw, being a villain, would also have trouble getting cops to help him, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Billy Russo actually has a history of working with corrupt cops and other agents of the law– and his being legally alive is definitely a boon. Just look at the first season of The Punisher, where he was friendly not just with his private security firm, but also the cops and politicians in New York.
2 Talk to his son
This one is a little mean, but it’s true: Jigsaw has at least one living family member, which is not something the Punisher can say. Frank Castle’s origin story is famous by now. His entire family was destroyed in a mob hit– or a military assault in the TV show. Billy Russo, meanwhile, has a son named Henry in the comics.
The twist here is that, while Billy can talk to his son and Frank can’t talk to his, Billy’s son actually ended up teaming up with the Punisher in the comics. Henry had no love lost for his abusive supervillain father, and apparently actually saved the Punisher’s life at one point. While this is something Jigsaw can do that the Punisher can’t, he might have preferred otherwise.
1 Network with old contacts
In Netflix’s The Punisher, the people who put out a hit on Frank Castle and his family aren’t mobsters, like in other versions of the story. They’re Frank’s old military buddies and superiors. It’s a hit that Russo allowed to happen, specifically because he wanted access to that network of contacts– not to mention he didn’t want to next on the list.
That means that in the show itself, Russo can contact all the most powerful military connections he has, while Castle is left with basically nothing. Russo’s powerful friends are a serious help to him, though in the end they don’t save him. It’s a whole network of information of favors that Castle is completely shut out from.
What else can Jigsaw do that The Punisher can’t? Let us know in the comments!