LOS ANGELES, November 18, 2017 – On Friday, November 17, Netflix and Marvel released what will be the first installment of “Marvel’s The Punisher.” It is the sixth original series released by Netflix and Marvel Studios.
Perfect for binge-watching Marvel fans, this New York City-based miniseries follows the unpredictable and violent trajectory that uncoils when heroism and dark villainy join together in one character – The Punisher – who wreaks vengeance and mayhem on the city’s powers of darkness.
Beyond a doubt, this series delivers when it comes to providing an excess of extreme violence, torture and righteous vengeance. But this is no surprise. The main character Frank Castle – expertly brought to life by Jon Bernthal – who introduced the character in the second season of “Daredevil” – is a lone wolf vigilante armed with guns and powered by rage. All this is explained as the series progresses, though “Daredevil” fans will already be on to Frank Castle’s backstory.
“The Punisher” aside, the Marvel-Netflix streaming video partnership is what’s truly shined in all these above average efforts. Breakthrough character Daredevil’s two seasons were successfully followed by Jessica Jones,’ Luke Cage’s and the Iron Fist’s initial seasons, culminating in this fall’s introduction of “The Defenders.” That series pitted all four of these Hell’s Kitchen-based superheroes against a mysterious and deadly force known as “The Hand.”
Of the four initial series, only “Iron Fist” received generally negative reviews that centered around an unnecessarily verbose plot and weak characterization of the central vharacter.
As “The Punisher,” Jon Bernthal delivers a compellingly painful and angst-ridden portrayal of a man who suffers severe post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) stemming not only from his time as a war combatant, but also from the subsequent brutal slaying of his beloved family at the hands of underworld figures. As Frank Castle’s story plays out, it becomes clear that somewhere in the mind of this righteous vigilante lurks a terrifying thirst for violence, chaos and social warfare.
Through this initial season, it’s clear that Castle has allowed his trauma and loss to serve as a springboard excuse to act out vendetta by eliminating crime and criminals by whatever violent means he feels necessary to deploy.
In addition to the impressive efforts of Jon Bernthal in the starring role, “The Punisher” also benefits from its strong supporting cast, including Deborah Ann Woll and Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
Fans of the Netflix iteration of will immediately recognize Woll as Karen Page, the sometime girlfriend of Matt Murdoch’s Daredevil who also appears briefly in “The Defenders.” Moss-Bachrach debuts as key character Micro in the new Punisher series.
“The Punisher” is without doubt the most graphically violent chapter in the Marvel-Netflix partnership to date. Routinely, heads are blown off as part of a growing body count that measures blood by the gallon, seasoned by scenes of brutal torture and largely gratuitous violence.
But be forewarned: This is not family fare. But it is true to the spirit of Marvel’s Vigilante-in-Chief, who wages war on the underworld like a Charles Bronson character on steroids.
—Terry Ponick contributed to this article.