The second (and if I’m not mistaken last) character we can identify in The Punisher‘s trailer is one of the villains, possibly a secondary one: William Rawlins, portrayed by Paul Schulze. We don’t know much about Rawlins’ role in the series, apart from the fact that he’ll be a CIA top agent operating in Afghanistan, and that his mission will intersect with Frank Castle‘s one… and not in a peaceful way. We can see from the trailer that his left eye is blind, and that’s a nod to the comics version, who sports a trademark eye patch. In the comics, Rawlins is surely a pain in the back for Castle, but not for the “regular” one, as the CIA agent only exists in Earth-200111, the X-rated MAX series. Let’s see together.
William Rawlins was the son of a decorated American soldier stationed in Egypt, and he moved to Texas when his father became a CIA agent. William had wanted to join the Agency since he was a kid, but when he was old enough he discovered that his father was actually a corrupt agent, who had contacts with many mob bosses, warlords and dictators, and who made remarkable extra money with drug smuggling. This revelation only strengthened Rawlins’ resolution to become a CIA operative himself, and so he did, inheriting all his father’s connections and becoming a good “personal friend” of Nicky Cavella, an Italian-American mob boss (he even had a sexual relationship with him to buy his favors). Thanks to his father’s friends and to the bran new ones he had made for himself, Rawlins became insanely rich and influential in a short amount of time, and he often used missions abroad to cover some illicit operations of his own. At a certain point he married a fellow CIA agent, Kathryn O’Brien, and he used her as an alibi during said operations. Once he took her to Afghanistan, allegedly on a mission to dismantle a Taliban group, actually to collect drugs to sell from those same Talibans. There, however, Rawlins “forgot” to pay his suppliers, and as a result the Talibans tried to shoot his helicopter down; as the aircraft was too heavy, Rawlins had only two choices to make: either he threw the drug off the helicopter, or he did the same with his wife. This was quite a simple choice for him, and he abandoned Kathryn in the middle of the desert. The woman was rescued only days later, after being repeatedly raped by her captors, and as soon as she came back home, she was arrested, as Rawlins had framed her indicating she was actually the one who was smuggling drugs in Afghanistan. Needless to say, as despicable what he had done was, this was a turning point in Rawlins’ career, as other corrupt and powerful men realized he could be trusted for even more important operations: he was finally reaching the top he had always dreamt of, and the only price he had to pay was his wife. Pretty cheap, according to his standards.
Rawlins became the CIA contact for all the corrupt politicians and officers who wanted to do something off the records. When some US Army generals decided it was time to make quite a turn in the war on terror, Rawlins was entrusted with the delicate task of training terrorists in a secret facility and to send them in suicide missions to strategic locations. His first recruits were instructed to hijack a plane and to crash it against some key buildings in Moscow, winning Russia‘s cooperation in the war and creating a great diversion while he stole some virus sample from a secret lab, but somehow the Russian intelligence was informed of the threat and shot down the plane before it could make any damage. Investigating on the failure, Rawlins found out that The Punisher was in Russia at the time, and that he was most likely the one who had warned the Russians. The generals were clearly upset for the failure, and ordered him to kill The Punisher. Back to New York City, Rawlins called for his ally and former lover Cavella’s help, and the two of them set a trap for the vigilante. The plan worked out pretty well, with the gangsters acting as bait while Rawlins took his time to incapacitate Castle, but when he was about to kill him, he was knocked out by The Punisher’s new ally: Kathryn O’Brien, his ex-wife. Kathryn, Castle and the rogue CIA hacker William Roth captured Rawlins, and when the agent woke up he was tied up in the vigilante’s hideout. The Punisher brutally interrogated him, and he even cut his left eye out when he mocked Kathryn for what had happened in Afghanistan years before, until Rawlins finally confessed all the war crimes he had committed following CIA’s orders, while Roth filmed everything. While Castle and O’Brien left the base to act on the intel they had achieved, Rawlins tricked Roth into letting him go to the bathroom: taking advantage of this single moment of freedom, he killed the hacker and escaped, putting as much distance as he could from his captors. As soon as he recovered, however, he resumed his hunt for Castle and his ex-wife, wanting to settle scores: after all, he couldn’t afford such a nuisance to taint his reputation with his many contacts and allies, and the corrupt Russian General Nikolai Zakharov seemed to be a good springboard to come back to the scenes with a blast.
William Rawlins is a cunning, deceptive and manipulative individual, a morally depraved man who’d do anything to obtain what he wants. Greedy and unscrupulous, lacking the slightest sign of human empathy, he orchestrated a number of terrorist attacks and similar atrocities without showing the tiniest remorse. A trained CIA agent, he’s highly intelligent and well versed in combat, a tactician born who prefers not to be involved in action directly, but who can hold his own when threatened. A thief, a mass-murderer, a kidnapper and, if the situation requires it, even a prostitute, Rawlins is the apotheosis of everything’s evil, a cowardly and clever assassin who knows perfectly how to move to obtain the maximum profit with a minimum risk.