Although The Punisher is based on the popular Marvel comics, there are some new characters in the series that even comic book fans won't recognize. Amongst them is Sam Stein, played by Michael Nathanson. So who is Sam Stein on The Punisher? He's a complicated character.
Deadline describes Sam as "a Homeland Security agent, somewhat disillusioned with his job." He'll be working alongside his partner Dinah Madani, played by Amber Rose Revah. According to Movie Pilot, their partnership will have a rough start as Dinah, who is a military vet, will have her guard up and will be a much more intense character than Sam. However, the two will form a bond over their "shared belief in truth and justice."
Nathanson told the outlet his character is "a kind of 'borscht belt' Obi-Wan Kenobi," who acts as a "spiritual guide" to Dinah. Essentially, he sees Sam as an antihero detective from the '70s.
Although neither Sam nor Dinah appear in The Punisher comics, Nerdist suggests the two characters are inspired by Detective Martin Soap and Lieutenant Molly von Richthofen from the classic Punisher tale, "Welcome Back, Frank." Hopefully, Sam has a better life than Martin though. According to Comic Vine, Martin was described as a "loser" throughout the comic book series. His alcoholic mother gave him up for adoption after the nurse dropped him as a baby, but Martin was never adopted and lived in an orphanage. He ran away once and was picked up by an alcoholic cop; this moment led him to want to be a cop.
Once he joined the NYPD he was put on the Punisher task force and Frank actually gave him information that helped Martin become Chief of Police, though this was brief because he was then blackmailed and later demoted back to his original rank and put back on the Punisher task force. Still, he and Frank formed a kind of partnership, where Martin fed Frank information, which he used to kill people. Feeling guilty about that, Martin became depressed and wanted to end his life but a bar owner stopped him. Since then Martin has dedicated himself to his job of tracking down the Punisher.
It'll be interesting to see if any of the things that happened to Martin or his characteristics show up in Sam. Martin also became an alcoholic like his mother, so that could also be a character trait that Sam takes on as well. Or Sam could just be his own character that the show creators made specifically for the series.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for taken liberties when it comes to translating these comic books to screen, and since the Punisher's story is a bit different than the comics, it'd make sense that the characters he interacts with would be different too. Whether or not Sam is based on a real character or a whole new one, he's definitely interesting and there's no doubt Nathanson is a great addition to the show.
Although Sam works for Homeland, which should in theory mean he's one of the good guys, it's one of the U.S. government agencies that Frank will be going up against in the series. Homeland will be hunting Frank down and Revah revealed to Movie Pilot that there will be a lot of action scenes and even a car chase, because of this hunt.
You can learn more about Sam, Homeland Security, and the hunt for Frank when you watch The Punisher, which is now streaming on Netflix.
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