The Punisher: why the Netflix series is a UFO at Marvel

Series netflix The Punisher arrived on Disney+the opportunity to return to this nugget of darkness in the colorful cinematographic universe of Marvel.

The bogeyman of criminals from the famous comic book publisher enjoys great popularity among readers and neophytes alike. It is therefore logical thathe went through the screen adaptation box, and this three times (in 1989, 2004 and 2008) without much success. Never truly reverent or misunderstanding what he stands for, the character’s various iterations only fueled the idea that the Punisher would never be faithfully adapted. But everything changed as soon as it was introduced in season 2 of Daredevil from Netflix in 2016. In a few episodes, the tone is set: le Punisher performed by Jon Bernthal is here to stain the Marvel Universe.

In two seasons, The Punisher of Steve Lightfoot ranks among the best serial adaptations of the Marvel universe despite its oscillating quality between its two parts. From now on, the old Netflix program has been on Disney+ since January 6, 2023, a good excuse to talk about a series apart in the MCU to the point where one wonders if it can find its place in this extended cinematic universe.

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Photo Jon Bernthal“Johnny! Come here and I’ll kill you!”

the black dot

The first season of Daredevil installed a dark and realistic universe for the Red Devil. The Punisher’s announcement in the sequel gave hope for a tortured and brutal adaptation of the big-gun-loving vigilante. From his first appearance, we discover Frank Castle through his murderous crusade and the perforated corpses he scatters in his path. The aggressiveness of the character is there and his psychology is sketched to really get deep into The Punisher.

The first season was released in 2017, right in the middle of Marvel’s “no brainer” phase with Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Punisher comes to rest at the table of the Avengers and other white knights with all its neuroses and barbarism. The plot makes his hero a relentless executioner inspiring fear among thugs in the United States where his extreme measures are the only solution against crime. The depressive vision of the series even permeates the image with faded, even yellowish hues, like an american flag losing its luster.

Far from the light-heartedness of other Marvel productions, The Punisher sits like the black dot in the middle of the MCU’s colorful array. The psychopath is completely removed from the cloak-wearing communitythere where Daredevil kept allusions to other Marvel heroes and incorporated connections to the films. Frank Castle seems evolved in a world where no billionaire in armor saves civilians. He is the only one able to protect the widow and the orphan. Thereby, the series appropriates the thriller genresometimes spy (with agent Madani), action (the numerous bloody shootings) or psychological (Castle’s nightmares about his family), rather than a superheroic adventure.

The Punisher: PictureHe is revenge

Anti Marvel

The Punisher is the antithesis of the codes of the MCU. Already by his hero, rather a mentally unbalanced than a vigilante, whose goal of cleaning the streets of criminals is a pretext to satisfy his bloodlust. He is also a social misfit unable to build a healthy relationship with others. For example, he tortures Micro, his future ally, for an entire episode in order to test his confidence. Even with his dead family, the idyllic setting to which Castel clings to hold on seems more and more a fantasy based on reinterpreted memories to console him.

Against the Punisher, no villains from other dimensions or in tight suits, the enemies are unreachable white-collar shadows whose weapons are lies and manipulation. The context of the series is also dark with a broken United States. Its disillusioned veterans turn to crime, even nationalist and conspiratorial terrorism, and destitute law enforcement has two trains behind everyone in their work. Heroism is no longer the solution and even Castle’s ruthless methods perpetuate an unbreakable cycle of crime since he will also generate monsters – his brother in arms Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) becomes his rival Jigsaw and the antagonist of season 2.

Marvel's The Punisher: Jon BernthalJon Bernthal was born for the role

All these elements explode in a violence that is even more graphic than in Daredevil. Punisher becomes a house painter by spreading the brains and guts of his enemies on the walls with the help of various calibers and handguns. This warrior fury is embodied by a production whose ingenious scenic devices are in search of realism and immersion. We particularly remember the sequence of the explosion of the homemade bomb filmed in found footage, or this first-person shootout in the woods broadcast on Agent Orange’s computer to illustrate his puppeteer side 2.0.

The Punisher therefore stands out enormously from Marvel’s superheroic standards when it was released, and still today it is an exception. Steve Lightfoot and Netflix have understood that the interest of the “vigilante” is tobe a counterpoint to the Avengers and other superhumanswhile bringing to light the lowest instincts of men in a sick America.

The Punisher Season 2 : photo, Jon Bernthal, The Punisher“Let’s take a walk in the woods, while the Punisher is here…”

back in black

It is obvious that the radicality of The Punisher, in its visuals and subject matter, doesn’t really fit into the Disney/Marvel boxes. The series is on Disney+, but is it healthy to wait for a The Punisher: Born Again how is living Daredevil? For Frank Castle, these are essentially unfounded rumors that report a return of the hero. However, the Punisher is the only one in the category of ultra-nags whose fame goes beyond the pages of comics. We would therefore be surprised to see Marvel Studios sit on it.

The transition from one platform to another will therefore most likely go through a facelift of the character and his universe. With almost 50 years of existence, the mobster killer has been written and illustrated by a multitude of artists. Like Daredevil, the version offered by Netflix is ​​inspired by a few comics (those by Garth Ennis in particular), but is not the standard for the hero. As examples, some series venture into superheroic frenzies more difficult to sell to the general public, such as Frankenstein’s Monster-like Punisher, or the Cosmic Ghost Rider (a parallel Earth cross between Ghost Rider, the Silver Surfer and the Punisher).

marvel: comicsThe most punk Punisher

It is more possible that we find a Frank Castle in the style of comics of the 80s and 90s. At that time, he was an urban Rambo with a rarely gory violence and a humor in the vein of the eighties. In Punisher #3 from 1987, Castle, for example, burns a colonel by joking – for free – on the chicken he likes fried. In 2022, screenwriter Jason Aaron and cartoonists Jesus Saiz and Paul Azaceta make it a warlord from an army of ninjasthe Hand (the same mafia as in Daredevil), in a very good run more fantastic than the New York stories of the hero, a possible inspiration for Marvel Studios.

Integrating the Punisher into the MCU will above all offer the executor of gangstersinteract with other role models. Marvel Studios could confront views on justice and question the necessity of superhuman fights, in particular by putting Castle in opposition to the young Spider-Man (his first enemy in the comics), or the patriot Captain America. We had already had a glimpse of this kind of relationship in season 2 of Daredevil, but with the MCU it would take on a whole new dimension. And you never know, maybe the Punisher will sport his original belted black tights costume and white boots.

marvel: comicsMarvel vs Punisher Fans

Between the sorbet torture of the 2004 adaptation with Thomas Jane, and the Castle of the comics leaving a mobster in agony for days in the air, Steve Lightfoot’s series had found a happy medium in its portrayal of the anti-hero. If there is little chance of finding exactly the Punisher from Netflix at Disney +, the human colander maker remains a barbarian and always will be more so than any Marvel hero. Thus, his arrival in the MCU has something to bring novelty within a universe that is too wise, at the cost of less frontal violence.

The other question is whether Jon Bernthal will be there if hero overhaul there is. The actor has repeatedly stated that this character is close to his heart and that he would not accept the role if the Punisher lost his serious tone.

The Punisher: why the Netflix series is a UFO at Marvel