The Punisher stars as Marvel’s newest, but dark, series

In comparison to some of Marvel’s previous movies and series’, The Punisher is grittier and conveys a more serious tone.

Henry Bird, Managing Editor

In recent years, the divide between Marvel and D.C. has become apparent in movies and TV shows, with Marvel taking a decidedly lighter note with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, while D.C., with movies like The Dark Knight, have taken a much darker tone. Of course, both franchises have dipped into new territory, like when D.C. released Suicide Squad in 2016. For Marvel, however, they’ve begun to take a darker tone with series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. This newer, grittier take on Marvel comics is most apparent in their newest series: The Punisher.

The Punisher stars Jon Bernthal as a disgraced Marine Corps Lieutenant named Frank Castle who is out to take revenge on the people who murdered his family. The show takes place in the Marvel Universe, so fans of Daredevil will recognize this anti-hero and his story from the second season of that TV series. In his debut show, Castle does not hold back on the violence. The opening shots of episode one are a bloody montage of Frank killing cartel members and dirty cops who had an impact on the death of his family, and the violence doesn’t stop there. From gun shots to arrows to broken necks to torture, this show is not for the faint of heart. This violence is part of what makes the show so intense and interesting to watch, however. The action scenes are clearly based on what an actual Marine Corps soldier could do, and with no one with super powers getting the way, Castle is able to exact his revenge in all of the ways that he has been trained.

Castle’s background as a soldier, although it drives the action of the show, primarily serves as the many of the plot lines as well. In his hunt for the man who orchestrated the murder of his family, Castle relives his experiences of Afghanistan and the effects they still have on him. One of the other plot lines that has garnered strong praise is one that focuses on a Marine named Lewis who is apart of the support group who Castle’s friend from the military, Curtis, runs.  Lewis goes through severe PTSD throughout the show, and the effects that it has on him are at the forefront of the show. This raw look into what war can do to soldiers––especially when they come home and have to adapt back to normal life like in First Blood––makes the show personal and real.

One of the parts of the show that surprised me the most was the humor. With all of the torture, crime, despair, and overall loneliness that is prevalent in this TV show, the bits of dark humor that are incorporated into it are all the funnier. Frank’s back and forth with his rival turned “partner” Lieberman serves as a nice relief from the bloodshed that this show has already become known for.

Overall, The Punisher isn’t a show for fans of Marvel’s lighthearted take on super heroes. It is a story of PTSD, loneliness, and a large dosage of violence. The plot is ever changing and can feel more like a criminal mystery TV series rather than a superhero show, but this is part of what sets it apart from the rest of the field. Fans of The Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan are sure to love this intense, action–packed show.