By Reagan O’Farrell
Art by Shelby Pennington
The Punisher started off with a bang- or more accurately, a hit-and-run murder, then a bang, then a strangulation in a men’s bathroom.
This TV show, which had its entire first season released by Netflix on Nov. 17, is not for the faint of heart. With graphic gore and an abundance of violence, not everyone can handle this story of an avenging anti-hero.
The Punisher circles around the story of Frank Castle, who is also known as “Punisher” and played by Jon Bernthal. After coming home from war and having his wife and two children murdered, he exacts revenge on those responsible before attempting to live out a quiet life. This quiet does not last long as he soon finds himself thrust into the vigilante lifestyle to uncover the conspiracies plaguing the nation.
The producers made an excellent choice in cast members for the show. Jon Bernthal, who was originally most notorious for his role as Shane early on in The Walking Dead, brings Punisher to life, making him into a relatable quasi-hero who also happens to live a life wrought with tragedy, death, and manipulation. His portrayal is a memorable one, and it is hard to imagine Bernthal in any other role given how fluidly he is portrayed in this one. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays Micro, a former NSA computer analyst believed dead much like Punisher himself. His introduction is also the introduction to much of the humor in the show, even if that humor is scarce and often short-lived.
One of the most notable features of The Punisher is its soundtrack. The season-long introduction sequence alone offers music that parallels the show perfectly, intertwining with the dark images displayed in its mist. The action sequences are notable and undoubtedly memorable in the minds of viewers because of the hard, strong beats accompanying them that makes hearts beat faster in anticipation and excitement despite the gruesome behaviors it is exemplifying.
The Punisher is not slow, but it does take some time for the buildup before the main plot is fully introduced. There is a certain shadows and curtains aspect to the show, however, that keeps up the intrigue throughout, drawing in the more plot oriented minds as opposed to simply leading a character-driven story.
It delves deep into the importance of origins and the effects of social and government influence while also providing both subtle and direct criticisms of the inter-workings of the United States. These criticisms certainly raise questions and bring to light conspiracies that are sometimes swept under the rug by the public. While Punisher himself is no role model, he does act the door to both answers and the reality of human nature.
Overall, The Punisher is a good source of entertainment for both superhero fans and non-superhero fans alike. Those who primarily watch Marvel movies may be surprised at just how different this show is, but it still offers the much-desired action sequences that make those films noteworthy. While the brooding-man-who-lost-all-that-he-loved trope is strong in this one, it actually plays off well and with an air of rationality given Punisher’s overwhelmingly tragic backstory.
Netflix has been coming out with multiple memorable shows, and The Punisher will likely become an inevitable addition to that growing list.