As mass shootings invade American life on a terrifyingly routine basis nowadays, the November 17 launch of Marvel’s The Punisher brings a conflicted cacophony of gunfire and blood-dripping militarism and nihilism that makes Charles Bronson’s Death Wish movies look like a philosophical pillow fight. That said, with Veterans Day tributes fresh in many of our minds, this Jon Bernthal-starring series about the relentless vigilante Frank Castle is also a mostly compelling portrait of rage drenched in the pain of loss and surprising empathy.
Like most Marvel series on the streaming service, it sometimes feels as though the Steve Lightfoot-showrun Punisher is trying too hard to fill its 13 episodes. However, the distinctly adult series based on the character created by John Romita Sr., Ross Andru and Gerry Conway — Castle made his first appearance in the comics in 1974 — managed to truly get under my skin long after I stopped watching all the episodes. In fact, for very different reasons than, say, Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, it drew me in to watch again, as I say in my video review above.
Regardless of how dark the tale is, that pull is a narrative and streaming success by any measure. With this Punisher having been introduced in Season 2 of Daredevil, The Walking Dead alum Bernthal hits the moving target that is the uncomfortable character by avoiding none of the contradictions. Daredevil and The Defenders alum Deborah Ann Woll, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah and Ebon Moss-Bachrach co-star.
Take a look at my video review of the Punisher above for more of my take on this harsh but rewarding series. With all the superheroes and would-be superheroes coming to the big and small screen in the next couple of weeks, will you be watching this one?