There was no other Marvel show I looked forward to the most than The Punisher. From season two of Daredevil, I was hooked on Jon Bernthal as the anti-hero Frank Castle. For a “side character”, we got so much from the second season of Daredevil, but it didn’t even scratch the surface. In many ways, we can throw out what we know about The Punisher and rewrite the narrative. You haven’t met the real Frank Castle until you’ve seen The Punisher.
Frank Castle, who? In the beginning of the series, our favorite anti-hero has donned the name Pete Castiglione – a little nod to his real name in the comics, Francis Castiglione. After cleaning up some remaining scum in the attack on his family, Frank has given up the Punisher moniker and seemingly lives a normal life. Still riddled with nightmares of what happened to Maria and the kids and a limp to remind everyone he did once get a drill pierced through his foot, Frank works construction and keeps to himself.
We get bearded Frank for an episode or two and a lighthearted discussion of hipsters and man buns between him and Karen Page. Things quickly go awry as soon as the mysterious Micro pops into Castle’s life. I’m not going to write the whole storyline, that’s simply something you have to watch for yourself. All you need to know, is this is not a superhero show. Completely different from the others, The Punisher is very much grounded in real life. There are secret webs being spun, truths unraveled, and the heartbreaking tales of PTSD. It’s a beautiful tragedy, where there are several times I legitimately thought several key players were done for.
What I really want to talk about, are the characters. The show is very much about the storyline. We revisit Castle’s mission from Daredevil S2. We find out that the order to kill Frank’s family comes from an even higher place than the Blacksmith. The audience and Frank are betrayed by people we all thought he could trust. We are also shown a softer side of Frank – he isn’t just killing and slaughtering (he does that too), but he’s saving a lot of lives too. We question our morals a lot throughout the show and so does he; we aren’t really dealing with the self-righteousness that a lot of the other shows have; we have a man and the hard calls.
Just as important, if not more so; are the characters in the series. Obviously, Bernthal is the title character and this is his series. And shit (bad word alert), he’s so good in it. Bernthal really put his all into this show, but so did everyone else. Unlike the other shows, I cannot pinpoint one person who did a better acting job in the show. Every single one of them put their all on the table and acted. Do you know how refreshing it is to see every person on screen not hold back? It’s an incredible compliment to the fans.
Let’s go through everyone:
Frank Castle – Obviously, Jon Bernthal did a fantastic job. I mentioned that above, didn’t I? Still, he was great. So full of raw emotions, Bernthal gave us a Frank Castle we had not seen before. Sure, there were a few points that I went “oh that’s the Frank we knew from Daredevil”. But, he is so much more than that. We remember in the end, he is not just The Punisher, but a man, who has lost, and is continuing, to lose everything.
Karen Page – #Kastle fans will be very pleased. Although Deborah Ann Woll was not in it as much as we had previously thought, she was still fantastic. Karen is such an important part of Frank’s life and there are some really key moments where it is so good to see someone who Frank trusts and cares about. What I love about them is that Frank is not afraid to tell it like it is sometimes with Karen and I think she respects his “no bullshit” attitude.
Micro – Ebon Moss-Bachrach is so friggin enjoyable as Micro. A sometimes quirky mole, he is simply a man trying to get his family back. Wouldn’t you be weird after a year of solitary in a basement in your bathrobe? Micro and Frank’s relationship remains unsteady the whole show, with Castle never fulling knowing if he can trust the man. In the end, their friendship is so pure and just shows another layer to the Punisher.
Billy Russo – At The Punisher premiere, Ben Barnes said: “Billy Russo is a panther”. Boy, was he right. I’m going to come out and say it; Billy is devilishly handsome. Ridiculously so. But, for as handsome as he is, this is a cunning, smart man who has more than one skeletons in his closets. The fans of the comics will know what really hides underneath the surface, but I won’t say anymore. Plus, there are some seriously hot sex scenes between him and Dinah.
Dinah Madani – I was surprised how much I came to adore Amber Rose Revah as Dinah, but I love her. An empowering young woman with ambition, Dinah is not always right. Sometimes, she gets in over her head. And even though it looks like she might get in Frank’s way at one point, I come to really enjoy seeing the respect that these two clearly have for each other. Dinah and Sam Stein (Michael Nathanson) have a great partnership too.
Curtis Hoyle – One of the few people who knew Frank was alive, Curtis served with Lieutenant Castle. The Claire Temple of The Punisher series, he was a corpsman and lost one of his legs while on tour. Now selling insurance and running a support group for veterans, he is an incredibly down to earth guy that I wish we could have seen in Daredevil. I certainly hope Jason R. Moore returns in S2.
I think I’ve rambled enough in this article. If I have to pick one thing that wasn’t exactly my favorite part of the show, was the pseudo weird relationship between Frank and Micro’s wife. There were times where it felt too much, but honestly that wasn’t the only complaint I have.
This is the premiere weekend of the first season and although I have not heard of a second season, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Now that the events of season one have occurred, I’m really interested to see The Punisher in the world. If you want heartbreak, events that question your morality, and a damn good storyline, watch The Punisher. Be ready for the dream sequences and flashbacks to kill your heart.