The eagerly awaited newest addition to the Netflix superhero catalog, “The Punisher,” released on Nov. 17 to rave reviews. “The Punisher” is the latest in the “Defenders” series on Netflix, however it is a spin-off, with little to do with the likes of “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and “Daredevil.”
“The Punisher” is an antihero who is a fan favorite of many Marvel Comic fans. “The Punisher” has no superpowers, he is simply a vigilante with an incredible knowledge of firearms and survival tactics. “The Punisher” is one of the few heroes to have no issue with killing a villain or bad guy, opting instead to get the revenge he desires. “The Punisher,” Frank Castle, in all adaptations of his storyline is a veteran who comes home, and eventually loses his wife and children to crime. Whether it be a gang shooting, drug deal gone wrong, or military conspiracy, in all adaptations of his story Frank Castle loses his family to what he conceives as a criminal, leading him to use his military training to go on a fervent campaign against criminals.
“The Punisher” in Netflix’s adaptation originated in Netflix’s “Daredevil” Season 2 as a villain, killing criminals around Daredevil’s area, leading Daredevil to try to stop him. The two heroes clash in one of the most entertaining story arcs to arise from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This storyline eventually ends with Frank Castle being caught by Daredevil, and Daredevil has to be Castle’s defense attorney at his trial for dozens of murders. Castle escapes from prison, and eventually finds who was selling weapons to a gang in New York City, and saves Daredevil at the end of the season.
Positive fan reception to the Punisher’s appearance in “Daredevil” lead to Netflix and Marvel approving a Punisher spinoff show, which finally arrived in November 2017. The series revolves around Frank Castle as he tries to find who killed his family, and eventually finds that instead of a simple gang shooting, the death of his family was part of a government conspiracy.
The single best thing that “The Punisher” has going for it is the portrayal of Frank Castle by Jon Bernthal. Bernthal is possibly the best actor to portray any superhero since Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Bernthal was born to play the role of Frank Castle, and he plays it in such a menacing way that is a far cry from the wisecracking Punisher played by Thomas Jane in the 2004 movie.
Bernthal is well known for playing Shane in The Walking Dead, a fan-favorite character that was killed early in the shows run. Keen-eyed viewers can spot many of the similarities in how Bernthal plays Shane and Frank Castle, with many of the same mannerisms and voice touches.
One of the strongest moments in “Daredevil” season 2 was all the speeches and rants that The Punisher gives, giving the reasons why he does what he does. A scene between The Punisher and Daredevil on the roof of a building about why murdering a villain is better than putting them in prison is one of the most compelling moments on television. “The Punisher” series keeps this pedigree up, with the Punisher still delivering many rants, speeches, and just being fantastically written.
Another thing the show has going for it is, obviously, the action scenes. In a world where the film “John Wick” set the bar high on how to make an effective firearms action sequence, The Punisher
still manages to do very well. The action is well choreographed, exciting, easy to follow, and most importantly, fun and entertaining to watch.
One of the few points against the show is the same problem with all of the Marvel Netflix shows, which is the pacing and length. All of the Netflix superhero shows are thirteen episodes, with many of them floundering around episode nine and ten with pacing issues and the show dragging on for too long. However, The Punisher is the least guilty of the rest of the shows. While it does drag on a bit too long, the show still delivers an excellent ending and final act.
The show has received positive critical acclaim, with some critics calling it the greatest Marvel Netflix show yet. “Esquire” magazine praised the shows slow tone and being reserved with the action scenes, stating that it is more focused on the effects of PTSD on a character than how many bad guys he can shoot. However, some critics and watchdog groups criticized the show for its release time, stating that it is too close to the Las Vegas shooting in Oct. and its subject matter is too touchy.
“The Punisher” is not only a fantastic TV show, but it is perhaps one of the best adaptations of a comic book character to the big screen. Jon Bernthal is “The Punisher,” and the show is almost like watching comic book pages unfold on the big screen.