Long have fans awaited a proper on-screen tribute to Marvel’s brooding and tortured Frank Castle – The Punisher has finally found his saving grace in Netflix.
War-torn, traumatized, and oozing vengeance at every moment – those are just some of the fine qualities that etch out the character of Frank Castle. Despite being one of Marvel’s darkest and most beloved characters, the studio has had a torrid history with The Punisher’s on screen adaptations.
For many fans of the comics, all they desired was to see Castle unleashed on the deserving criminals that he is so apt to punish. Yet, for some reason, every iteration delivered either a pretty-boy version of Castle made to sell more tickets, or a shlocky b-movie variant that was more about using Castle as an excuse to tout gun-porn laden fight choreography through the vessel of a man who’d lost everything.
Now, finally, Marvel has hit the nail on the head with their Netflix series “The Punisher”. The sterilized telling of Castle’s attempt to stay dead – following a faked death – and the world of violence that continues to draw him back in is the closest that we’ve ever seen the character to his comic roots.
Jon Bernthal’s Castle is as violent and as gruff as they come. Relegated to only a few lines during the opening episodes, Bernthal paints a vivid picture of a man who has nothing to lose – still waking up to the world that took everything away from him.
Rather than focus his grief and anger onto the everyday criminal, this new Castle has a tendency to attack himself just as much – leading to some very fascinating sequences on duty, family, and accountability for one’s actions.
Thankfully, all of Frank’s brooding, investigating, and uncovering crescendos in firefights and close-quarters combat that would make the likes of John Wick proud. Their execution is top-notch, and a bumping score helps drive both the action and plot forward with a grim sense of relentless determination.
Despite our affinity for the skull-wearing anti-hero, we are cautious about how this Castle’s future will play out. As one of the only “heroes” in Marvel’s lineup without any sort of super powers, The Punisher stands in an interesting and potentially problematic position.
To see him running alongside the likes of Thor and Captain America would dilute the essence of who Castle is, and yet to have him lingering around and dealing with petty thieves and money-hungry Mafia men would equally become passé in short time.
Marvel will have their hands full with the forthcoming seasons of The Punisher, but if they want what follows to live up to Castle that we’ve been waiting so long for, no expense should be spared.