Ever since his brief appearance in “Daredevil” season two, Jon Bernthal’s Punisher has garnered much critical acclaim for delivering a unique performance and expertly portraying the brutal anti-hero that is Frank Castle. Punisher grew to become so popular that he eventually received his own series on Netflix, allowing viewers to dive deeper into who the Punisher truly is.
Marvel’s “The Punisher” takes place months after the events of “Daredevil,” and Castle has seemingly given up the mantel of the Punisher in order to remain in hiding. But when new information from Castle’s past suddenly arises, he must track down those plotting against him and truly avenge his family. “The Punisher” does a very impressive job at portraying Castle as an extremely damaged war veteran and uniquely analyzes the effects of war on veterans, not only showing Castle dealing with things such as PTSD along with his own personal demons, but several other veterans are shown struggling with their own post war issues. This manages to somewhat humanize a character who has often been referred to as “homicidal” and “unforgiving”, showing the amount of pain mentally and physically the Punisher goes through in order to cope with his losses.
The Punisher is undoubtedly one of the most brutal characters in the world of comic books, and the action in this series represents that gloriously. Each sequence is gritty and brutal, not being afraid to shy away from some very intense moments, and while it may be too intense for some viewers at times, it is not what the show focuses on. Yes, brutality is what the Punisher is most known for, but the show uses each action sequence purposefully to reveal more about the characters and to further the story, not to just have them for the sake of having them. War is intense, and this show understands that fact along with the effect that this intensity has on individuals, making the series engaging and entertaining throughout each episode. However, for the sake of developing characters, the story does tend to slow down some times, but its all for a purpose.
Jon Bernthal is undoubtedly the greatest on-screen interpretation of the Punisher, and this performance really allows viewers to sympathize with him understand that there’s reasoning behind his mercilessness. Other verisions in the past mainly focused on violence, but here viewers learn more about Frank Castle personally, and why he is who he is, making an admittedly one-dimensional character fully engaging and interesting. Now since Disney currently owns the rights to Marvel, including all film and television contracts, there is word that “The Punisher” may be the last new Marvel Netflix show, in order for Disney to avoid being associated with more mature content. But while it is understandable that Disney would choose to remain on a family friendly path, many comic fans certainly hope that this is not the end of Marvel’s deal with Netflix, for each new series has proven to be more engaging and even more impressive than some films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “The Punisher” is undoubtedly one of the greater Marvel adaptations, and is most definitely worth binge-watching in its entirety. Let’s just hope Netflix and Marvel continue to push boundaries and continue giving these characters the adaptations they deserve.
Joey Menedez // Editor-in-Chief