Marvel’s newest Netflix show THE PUNISHER is almost out and ComicsVerse is ready to binge on that awesome Frank Castle action. Before we commit to our couch for a day, CV wants to share the ten things we are most excited about in this 13-hour show!

1. Action Galore

THE PUNISHER
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Those who have seen the two PUNISHER trailers know that this won’t be a kid-friendly show. The trailers promised that PUNISHER would be the grittiest, darkest, and most violent of the Marvel Netflix Catalog. This is saying something cause DAREDEVIL proved to be exceptionally gritty, and JESSICA JONES is perhaps the darkest, most horrifying comic book adaption ever made.

I never think that violence in shows and movies just for the sake of violence is a good idea. However, characters like the Punisher demand an R rating. While I hope PUNISHER makes the violence and action in their show visually breathtaking and amazing to look at, the show needs to make sure the violence highlights the horror of excessive brutality. This balance will be vital to creating an incredible show.

2. Leaving New York

Look, I love New York City as much as the next guy. I believe it is the greatest city on the planet. However, after watching all the other Marvel Netflix shows primarily taking place in New York, you can feel like you’ve seen one dark alleyway too many. PUNISHER will take us outside of the Big Apple as Frank Castle discovers a national conspiracy.

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There’s no question that New York is a significant part of who Punisher is. However, it’s imperative for these Netflix shows to change themselves up a little. When DAREDEVIL first came out, it was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. However, after JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE, and IRON FIST kept a similar tone and location, a feeling of sameness has begun to wash over these shows. Moving PUNISHER outside of New York signifies a decision to separate this new show from the rest of the Netflix MCU. This decision could very well pay off big time in the show’s favor.

3. Wartime Origin

Punisher
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

A fascinating thing about PUNISHER is his wartime origins. Punisher first appeared in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129 in 1974 – right after the United States exited the Vietnam War. Whereas Captain America represented the heroic veteran of World War II, Frank Castle was the veteran of a darker, morally questionable war.

Instead of coming home and being hailed a hero, Punisher returned to a public that did not celebrate his achievements in the war and instead vilified him. Moreover, Punisher returned to his country with an unstable mental state, having suffered severe PTSD from the brutal war.Netflix’s PUNISHER has logically updated Frank Castle’s war from Vietnam to Afghanistan, the conditions of his service are the same as they were in the comics.

Netflix’s PUNISHER has logically updated Frank Castle’s war from Vietnam to Afghanistan, the conditions of his service are the same as they were in the comics. Many of Frank Castle’s fellow soldiers are set to have significant roles in the show. Hopefully, this means Netflix will focus on the dire conflict that created the Punisher.

PUNISHER needs to be a critique of how we treat our veterans. We send them into violent wars with no hopes of victory, then expect them to return to society often without any assistance. Frank Castle can’t put aside his terrible past. While to the average U.S. citizen the war wages half a world away, for Frank Castle the violence in Afghanistan will always linger inside of him.

4. Jon Bernthal’s PUNISHER

Let’s just take a moment to praise Jon Bernthal’s DAREDEVIL Season 2 performance as Punisher. Bernthal is the single greatest thing about that season of television and the only thing that kept me from hopelessly missing Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. Bernthal, who stands at only 5’10 doesn’t have the classic Punisher physique like previous Punisher actor, Thomas Jane.

Instead, Netflix brought on an actor who captured the emotional turmoil inside of Punisher. On the set of the movie THE PILGRIMAGE, Bernthal shot an audition tape with Tom Holland where he played Punisher fighting Holland’s Spider-Man. This tape must have been amazing as Marvel hired both actors for these respective roles.

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Even after signing up for the job, Bernthal doesn’t take playing Punisher as a laughing matter. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Bernthal stated that he dedicates himself to “isolation” and “not having too much fun” while playing Punisher to reflect the “world of darkness” that Frank lives in. With many actors viewing superhero roles as just another paycheck, it’s an honor to have an actor put so much effort into getting his character right.

5. Ben Barnes’ Jigsaw

PUNISHER
Ben Barnes in BY THE GUN. Image Courtesy of Artina Films

Ben Barnes is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors. Along with Taylor Kitsch and Sam Worthington, there was a period that Barnes was thought to be the next big thing.

Alas, besides his brief stint as Prince Caspian in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Ben Barnes has yet to make much of a mark on cinema. However, TV looks like a place where Barnes can truly showcase his talent. He was fantastic in WESTWORLD as Logan. Now he will feature as Jigsaw, Punisher’s archnemesis, in the Netflix show.

Jigsaw is the Joker to Punisher’s Batman. He is his greatest foe and one that reflects all the flaws of Frank Castle. In the comics, Jigsaw formerly known as Billy Russo AKA the Beaut is an assassin for the mafia. He is responsible for covering up all loose ends after the accidental murder of Castle’s family.

In vengeance, Punisher cuts up Billy’s “beautiful” face making it look like a puzzle board. The pain and shock drive Billy insane and helps him form a personal vendetta against Castle. Billy is an excellent representation of how Castle’s violent crusade may lead to an escalation of violence rather than a solution to it.

6. Karen and Punisher

PUNISHER
Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal). Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

DAREDEVIL showrunners never seemed to find a place for Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page in their show. For a while, they tried to make her the third member of the triumvirate in Nelson and Murdock. Her role always seemed forced however and she never quite found her stride at the law startup.

Then in Season 2, Karen Page became the primary love interest to Matt Murdock. However, Matt viewed her more as an idea than a person that he loved. She was the good girl of pure heart to Matt – a counter to Elektra’s wild and unpredictable personality.

The most interesting thing about Karen Page is that she has her own secrets. She has own reason for rage and suffering. While the show has hinted at Karen’s past, they have never entirely gone into it. They came closest when Karen formed an alliance with Frank Castle in season 2.

The fact that Karen, who often would nag Murdock for his recklessness, so understood Punisher’s grief and need for justice is fascinating. Moreover, the chemistry between Deborah Ann Woll and Jon Bernthal showed in their performances. The showrunners realized this which is why Karen Page will be a significant part of THE PUNISHER.

7. The First MCU Anti-Hero

PUNISHER
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It’s fair to say between Jessica Jones and Tony Stark, Marvel has depicted some very flawed heroes. However, all of these heroes, at their core, have been good people who society should celebrate. Frank Castle is the first protagonist who the audience shouldn’t rush to cheer on.

He is a very problematic character with some difficult beliefs. His acceptance of violence makes him a character-rich for analysis and discussion. Some will defend his actions saying he’s a man believing that the ends justify the means. Others will argue that Frank is a character who represents the problems with vigilante justice.

Nonetheless, having a series starring an anti-hero much like BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN creates some fantastic television ripe for discussion.

8. Against the Military

Some of the greatest comic book films like THE DARK KNIGHT and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER has served as fantastic critiques of the counter-terrorism movements.

THE PUNISHER looks to continue this with a scolding critique of how the United States military violates human rights laws in the name of ending terrorism. Moreover, it will depict how the U.S. government has been known to lie to the American people about their true wartime policies.

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In THE PUNISHER, Frank Castle along with Karen Page and new ally David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), seeks to undercover a greater military conspiracy. This conspiracy will weave together Punisher’s actions in the war with the murder of his family. At best PUNISHER’s storyline could recall the themes of corruption from the Vietnam era which Frank Castle emerged from.

9. PUNISHER MAX

Punisher
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Whether it’s DAREDEVIL which takes a lot from Frank Miller’s run on the Man without Fear or JESSICA JONES which is influenced by Brian Michael Bendis’ ALIAS, it’s always great to see TV shows take inspiration from classic comics. It’s likely that Netflix’s PUNISHER will take heavy influence from Garth Ennis’s PUNISHER: MAX storyline.

This comic is distinguished firstly by its ability to show graphic violence that has become synonymous with the Punisher brand. This is the comic which did the best job at showing the terror and instability of the Punisher. Secondly, this comic is distinctive for its basis in reality.

It’s a superpower-free series and throughout the comic Punisher’s main enemies are gangsters, ex-CIA agents, and assassins. It looks like the Netflix show wants to capture this raw and very extreme version of the Punisher. If the streaming service manages to show a capture the feel that PUNISHER: MAX did (without being unnecessarily gratuitous), this would be a bold new step for Marvel and Netflix.

10. Becoming The Punisher

DAREDEVIL Season 2’s Frank Castle is very much a Punisher coming into his own. He does not wear the skull on his shirt until the very last scene and nor has he committed to his war on crime. THE PUNISHER will show Frank Castle becoming the Punisher we know from the comics.

He will form into more than just a simple vigilante — he will leave behind a mythos. Much like Batman, he is a figure that will keep criminals awake at night. Unlike Batman, these criminals soon learn that coming across Frank Castle is fatal. Punisher is an amazingly rich character and that he now has a place in the sprawling MCU is merely incredible.

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Get Binging Now!

Is there anything that we missed? What are you most excited about in THE PUNISHER series? Also, don’t miss our ComicsVerse PUNISHER series review. Until then, I am going to watch THE PUNISHER trailer on repeat in extreme anticipation. Midnight it is yours, get ready for Netflix bingin’!

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