When I sat down to watch “The Punisher” on Netflix, I did so with relatively little knowledge about the original comic book character. However, my affinity for dark subject matter and revenge plots suggested that I was probably going to like the show.
It has been a long time since I was completely gripped by a television show, but “The Punisher” roped me into a serious TV binge. In Netflix’s most recent journey into the Marvel universe, Frank Castle has finished his murder spree of those responsible for the death of his wife and children. The first episode introduces us to this revenant and his poor adjustment to life without the Punisher.
Several actors have portrayed Frank Castle over the years, but Jon Bernthal is an explosive force that will be hard to top in inevitable future reboots. His role in “The Punisher” is not a huge departure from his TWD character, Shane, who is also prone to violence and often teeters on the edge of madness. Bernthal has the perfect combo of grit, guts, and raw brutality that will have you rooting for him despite his almost pathological need to kill those who have betrayed him and the people he cares for. Plus, he is a master at playing an unhinged psychopath, which is necessary for the darker fight sequences in this series.
This series is incredibly violent. At one point, I actually wondered if Quinten Tarintino made some directorial contributions because the blood was rushing in such vast quantities. Proceed with caution.
Here are my favorite moments from the first episode of “The Punisher”:
Please note* SPOILERS AHEAD*************************************************
- Frank snipes a drug cartel- In what is supposed to be his final act of vigilante justice against the people responsible for the murder of his family, Frank lands an impressive sniper shot on a showboating cartel leader getting his jollies off with a pleasure girl. After this, he burns his Punisher garb and attempts to rejoin society as an ordinary citizen… Good luck, Frank.
- Frank reads “Moby Dick”- We get a glimpse into Frank’s attempt to adjust to life outside of his vendetta. After he has achieved the impossible and taken out everyone on his kill list, he reads about the elusive white whale and Ahab’s obsessive search to find him. This could be symbolic of the peace he so desperately seeks but which evades him at every turn. Possible foreshadowing here…
- The NRA gets a platform at a support group- we are introduced to Curtis Hoyle, a wounded veteran who served in the military with Castle and is one of the few people who knows he is alive. Curtis hosts a support group for veterans having trouble transitioning back into civilian life, and it includes some raucous members. O’Connor, a veteran who is particularly jaded about the plight of the Vietnam veterans, uses his time at the meeting to discuss the degradation of the second amendment rights of Americans.When an argument ensues, Curtis emerges as the voice of reason and encourages discussion about their differences through conversation with a purpose of healing. Go, Curtis!
- Frank takes out his frustrations with a sledgehammer- After hanging up his Punisher persona, he spends his days pounding concrete walls to dust as a construction worker. He is relentlessly hassled by a group of tough guys who call him colorful nicknames and suggest he has lost his mind. They threaten and taunt him to the point we think he is going to use that sledgehammer on them in broad daylight. Fortunately, Frank keeps his composure.. until someone else is in need.
- It’s hammer time- We get a frightening look at the man behind the curtain when he unleashes hell (and a sledgehammer) on his coworkers. After the botched robbery of at a mob-hosted poker game, eager Donald Chavez, who previously tried to befriend Castle, is tossed into a concrete pit to drown. In a spectacular fit of rage, Castle kills everyone involved in the attempted murder, saves Chavez, and takes out a local gang in the process.
If you are new to the darker side of Marvel, and you also have a weak stomach, “The Punisher” may not be the place to start. However, if you are ready for something fresh and you don’t mind dislocated joints and bloody teeth spitting, this may be the show for you. The Punisher has been boosted into the #1 spot on my list of favorite Marvel characters.
Thanks for reading! What were your favorite moments from the first episode of “The Punisher”? Comment below!