Marvel’s The Punisher: One Batch, Two Batch

Following The Defendersthe Netflix-Marvel partnership brings Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), a man who was first introduced in 2015 as a supporting character in Daredevil. After the murder of his family, veteran marine Frank Castle became the vigilante known as The Punisher, a killer who gets rid of the baddest of the bad (permanently). E.g. The Dogs of Hell. Working with Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) to find out who killed his family, they uncover a government conspiracy that goes to the very top, dating back to Frank’s time as a marine. It begins to haunt him. However, when old friends work out he’s alive, he sees that New York needs the Punisher, even if they don’t know it.

The Punisher is a sum of its parts: great writing, acting, cinematography and a relevant sociopolitical subtext. Frank Castle has a “no fucks given” attitude when comes to ridding the world of bad people, a topic that he comes to blows with Red over, AKA Daredevil. That rooftop scene though. The other shows have a no-killing rule (not Jessica Jones). Created by Hannibal-executive Steve Lightfoot, Frank Castle is the real deal. He sees the world in black and white. With the introduction of characters like Agent Madani (Amber Rose Revah), Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) and the reintroduction of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Frank begins to see grey, even if it’s a dash.

Karen Page is more interesting in The Punisher than in both seasons of Daredevil
(The Punisher, Netflix)

The Punisher pushes audiences to morally and philosophically interrogate themselves about their perceptions of power, terrorism and torture. Where is the line? This show explores what can occur when vigilantism goes unchallenged. Daredevil started it all but Frank is a very different vigilante. Those who have seen the season two of Daredevil know why he’s killing. And really, can you blame the guy? I guess that shows where my line is. Through the dialogue and violence, Marvel Television have created one hell of a show. It makes one ponder what would occur if every wronged person went out for revenge, and The Punisher does this in a visceral and captivating way.

The Punisher makes us think about gun violence and gun culture. News stories constantly highlight the shootings. This series followed the October mass shooting in Las Vegas. There were over fifty fatalities and hundreds of casualties. Sutherland, Texas happened not long afterwards. The Punisher critiques the media and how the media spins narratives. It critiques law enforcement and government accountability. It critiques the military and their methods and how not all soldiers are “American heroes”. The action scenes show despair at its worst, lingering over corpses longer than what is comfortable. I am glad it doesn’t shy away from that. Maximum emotional impact. Good.

The casual banter between Frank and Micro was great, see, these shows aren’t always dark
(The Punisher, Netflix)

This show is a study of one of the best-acted characters written for television. The supporting characters are interesting and its take on politics and law enforcement gives us some food for thought. It’s wonderfully shot and it left me on the edge my seat. It has as many episodes as it needs. However, a couple of them could have been shorter. Nonetheless, Netflix’s latest release only loses to Jessica Jones and I truly hope Frank gets a second round.

I’m up for anything that critiques Trump’s America in a way that neither incites offence or shies away from hard truths