Culture

‘The Punisher’: What You Need to Know About Marvel’s Latest

Jon Bernthal in ‘Snitch’/Image © Summit Entertainment

No one who watched "Marvel's Daredevil" is surprised the series was greenlit by Netflix for a second season. The flagship title in Marvel's groundbreaking deal with the streaming juggernaut managed to stake out a corner for Marvel's gritty, street-level heroes while still maintaining a connection to the wider (and decidedly more upbeat) Marvel Cinematic Universe. From its excellent casting, utterly stunning fight choreography, and strong plotting, "Marvel's Daredevil" was an unquestionable success and more than paved the way for more Marvel characters to join Netflix's growing stable of original programming - notably the upcoming "Jessica Jones" starring Krysten Ritter. Despite the fact that the next season of "Daredevil" isn't expected to air until sometime next year (although filming is underway in NYC), there has been a somewhat steady stream of interesting news regarding what fans can expect from the sophomore effort, perhaps the most interesting being the introduction of the Punisher. So, who is the Punisher and what could he mean for the second season of "Daredevil"? Here's everything you need to know.

Who is the Punisher?
Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru in 1974, the Punisher has been a Marvel mainstay for decades. His iconic skull t-shirt is one of Marvel's most prominent and popular character logos. Following the deaths of his wife and children who were caught in the cross-fire of a mob shootout in Central Park, military veteran Frank Castle began a one-man war against organized crime and eventually all criminals as the Punisher. Brutally efficient and utterly remorseless, the Punisher approaches his vendetta against Marvel's underworld as a military campaign. Marvel has put the Punisher at the center of several comic series over the years - most notably via Garth Ennis's character-defining run on "The Punisher" (2004) under Marvel's MAX imprint. He's a man utterly shattered by personal tragedy and left with nothing but an overwhelming need for vengeance and a twisted moral code that sees only in shades of black and white. Jon Bernthal ("The Walking Dead," "Fury") has already been cast to fill the role of Frank Castle and our early instinct is that he's a great fit for the role.

What You Can Expect
The Punisher's methods have long put him at odds with Marvel's more traditional heroes, particularly Spider-Man (The Punisher debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #179 #129) and Daredevil. Despite similar goals in the broadest strokes - protecting the innocent, putting a stop to crime - the Punisher's deadly methods present a source of constant conflict with more mainstream heroes and there's no reason to believe his recurring appearance in "Daredevil" will be any different. In fact, there's strong indication that while the Punisher will not necessarily be the villain of season two, he will likely be the driving source of conflict for much of the season which is being billed as "Daredevil vs. the Punisher." Obviously, Matt Murdock's pledge not to kill is sure to bring him into conflict with the Punisher's take-no-prisoners brand of vigilante justice. Of course, the fact remains that the Punisher, despite his questionable methods, remains on the heroic end of the Marvel Comics spectrum so it's a safe bet that the two will grudgingly team up by season's end to combat a bigger threat (perhaps in the form of longtime Daredevil villain Bullseye).

Another question surrounding the introduction of the Punisher is how "Daredevil" will handle his origin. The death of his wife and children is pivotal to the creation of the character and is the one common factor across the three previous on-screen versions of the character. We wouldn't be surprised if this version of Frank Castle is a former NYPD officer who lost his family in the violence and unrest during the final episodes of "Daredevil." Regardless of how he's introduced, fans have wanted to see a quality Punisher adaptation for years and have been left hungrier by the less-than-stellar cinematic attempts to date. Given the quality of "Daredevil" season one and the overall tone of the series, "Marvel's Daredevil" just may give fans the Punisher they've been waiting for.

Some Essential Reading
Just in case you want to get a jump on the character before "Marvel's Daredevil" premieres next year, here's some recommended reading to hold you over: Punisher: Year One by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; The Punisher: The Tyger by Garth Ennis; The Punisher: The Cell by Garth Ennis; Daredevil vs. Punisher: Means and Ends by David Lapham.