We’ve been introducing characters who are important to the Daredevil Universe (the Defenders, that is), such as Iron Fist, Bullseye, and Elektra. While we know that Elektra will be involved in Season 2, we’re not sure about Bullseye just yet; but you’ve all seen the trailer, so there’s one person we KNOW is vastly important in this season: the Punisher.
Who is He?
The Punisher is a guy named Frank Castle. Frank is ex-Marine and ex-SWAT, master of both hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship (though he’s not as prolific as our assassin friend). His family was killed by an organized crime syndicate to get to him, and it sure worked… just not in the way they wanted. He became the Punisher and made it his sole mission to wipe out organized crime.
The Punisher is not really a villain; more of a vigilante, an anti-hero with single purpose, but certainly no hero. In his mind, if you do bad things, you deserve to die. End of story. As you might imagine, this causes some friction with his fellow Hell’s Kitchen-er, Matt Murdock, our beloved Daredevil.
You couldn’t call Punisher Daredevil’s nemesis, however. They’re more… frenemies.
Every time they meet, Daredevil’s sense of morality is shaken to the core. Matt and Frank have the same targets, but they differ fundamentally when it comes to what to do with them. Matt doesn’t want to kill people, but to make them see justice. The Punisher’s entire goal is to kill bad guys, and he doesn’t care what happens to himself. He’s “solving the problem,” as he puts it, claiming that “heroes” like Daredevil are only perpetuating the cycle, even making matters worse. This forces Daredevil to question everything he’s built his crime-fighting career around.
Why Should We Be Afraid?
Why is the Punisher the next character we’re seeing in Daredevil’s universe? Well, he’s arguably one of the most heart-stopping individuals in the Marvel Universe. He’s virtually unstoppable when he has a target in mind, and you’d best hope you’re not in his way. He doesn’t care if he dies; and when you do not fear death, it can make a man near invincible.
Why would he do that?
In this alternate universe, his family wasn’t killed by the mob; they were killed in a crossfire between the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Brood in a Central Park slug match. When THAT Frank Castle becomes the Punisher, he’s not going after the mob; his vendetta is against every comic book hero and villain Marvel has on the block.
He starts by trapping Spider-Man and Venom in the sewers of New York, killing them both. He destroys everyone in the Marvel Universe: Wolverine, Deadpool, Captain America, etc. The curtain goes down with him pulling the trigger of a .45 on his frenemy Matt Murdock, then turning the barrel to himself with a tear in his eye. End Series.
The Day Punisher Met the Joker
“What?” You may ask. “The Joker is a DC character!”
Once upon a blue moon, it was a dark time for comic sales. Thus the Amalgam Universe was created in a combination of DC and Marvel licensing rights for a more dynamic universe. Some very intense meetings resulted from this world-bending crash.
Thus, once upon a time, the Punisher met The Joker.
The Clown Prince of Crime has terrorized the Batman since since Batman #1, April 25, 1940. He’d trick Batman into a perilous trap, and Batman would turn the tables on him. The Joker always evaded capture in whimsical ways, in a hot air balloon or giant pie launcher.
The day Frank Castle met The Joker, it went a little differently. The Joker is used to dealing with Batman, who has the same qualms as Daredevil when it comes to killing bad guys. Thus, The Joker has never met a man like the Punisher with a cold, lifeless take on how to take down criminals. So when the Punisher aimed the barrel of his handgun straight in his eye, The Joker’s eternal smile actually cracked and was replaced by pure mortal fear.
Of course, at that moment, Batman showed up to save the day. He said two words: “Joker. Run.” But instead of some whimsical escape, The Joker did something he’d never done before: he ran for his life.
Speculation on John Bernthal’s Punisher
We’ve seen three cinematic adaptations of The Punisher thus far. There was the pretty entertaining delivery from Thomas Jane, the extremely disappointing Ray Stevenson in “War Zone”, and a quite befitting blast from the 80’s with Dolph Lundgren. Now we’ll be seeing Jon Bernthal take up the skull.
I learned a long time ago to withhold judgement before you see the finished product (Heath Ledger’s Joker was a strict teacher in not judging too quickly). Plus, I’ll say it again, Marvel has yet to do us wrong in the casting department, so I’m anxiously awaiting Jon’s Punisher alongside Charlie Cox’s Daredevil.
I hope you haven’t gotten the wrong impression out of all of this. The Punisher is by no means a “hero,” but, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, he’s not really a “bad guy” either. These new trailers phrase him as the villain. My word of advice, if we’ve learned anything from Marvel, is to “wait for the twist.”
The Punisher’s presence in Hell’s Kitchen means that there are some big baddies that need dealing with. I’m hard set to believe that we will be seeing the introduction of a bigger problem somewhere in the first 4 or 5 episodes of the season. Elektra and the Punisher alone do not a deep plot make.
I could be wrong; the whole thing could just turn into a Hell’s Kitchen slug fest, full of deep emotional drama, exploring past love (and a definite love triangle) and learning to really feel for the man behind the Skull. But if you ask me, we’re in for a freight train of fast paced action, a lot of guns, even more guns, and a final, true villain who we A) already know or B) will love to hate.