The Punisher’s family died in the middle of a mob war in Central Park, so he declared a war on crime and decided to just kill every single criminal in the entire universe. He’s basically the coolest, and the most down to earth. Who wouldn’t want to kill just about every criminal after their family was caught in a crossfire? In addition to the completely normal backstory, he also is one of the most relatable superheroes because basically anyone (with the training) could become him. Batman has extreme wealth and gadgets, but what does the Punisher have? Why, extreme amounts of hate and all the bullets in the world, of course! Aside from that, he’s just a normal dude… right?
RELATED: The Punisher: His 15 GNARLIEST Kills
Well, actually, The Punisher has had some extraordinary abilities, some of which he has all the time, and some of which came and went like a summer breeze. Either way, though, the prevailing idea of The Punisher being a completely human, non-super hero is actually completely wrong.
15. WITHSTAND THE PENANCE STARE
The Punisher has come up against some of the worst and coolest superheroes and villains and he almost always wins. But the one character who should be able to best him is Ghost Rider, right? After all, Frank Castle has killed literally thousands (millions?) (trillions?) so a superhero who uses a power to inflict guilt — and make someone feel the suffering of all those they’ve hurt — should be able to work wonders on someone who is basically a glorified serial killer. Except, that happened, and the Punisher didn’t even blink.
That’s right, the superhero who has powers from God and/or the Devil, the one who can defeat the devil and fight the damned, uses his most powerful weapon on the Punisher and the man doesn’t even blink. The Punisher can withstand the Ghost Rider’s Penance stare, which means not only does he feel no guilt (in itself, a superhuman trait), but he is immune to very powerful magic. Pretty super.
14. ANGEL OF VENGEANCE
Listen, sometimes comics are bad. Sometimes they’re incredibly bad, and sometimes they’re so bad that they throw themselves over a cliff and rise again as a glorious spirit of awesome. Such was the case when the Punisher died and was resurrected as an angel of vengeance by the forces of Heaven. See, the Punisher is kinda a bad dude — that’s no surprise, right? So angels told him that unless he worked for God, he’d never see his family ever again. Not surprisingly, he decided to work for them, hunting down whomever they told him to, and in exchange, he got two sick looking guns and a weird tattoo on his forehead. The comic was so glorious and magnificently bad that the Punisher himself came to life to hunt down the man who approved it.
Now, normally, the Punisher can hold his own against superheroes and supervillains. But that’s because, well, comics are silly. Obviously, someone like the Punisher wouldn’t be able to hold his own against, say, the Hulk. That’s just ridiculous. However, at a certain point, someone decided to take away his superhero protection and let him loose against Daken, the son of Wolverine, who is like Wolverine but with less of a moral center.
Daken rips Frank Castle to shreds in seconds. It’s pretty awesome, but The Punisher can’t be gone, right? Nope. He gets turned into FrankenCastle. That’s right. He’s part man, part Frankenstein, all Punisher. He’s basically a monster at this point, albeit one who is also the Punisher. So he has all the powers of a human killing machine and all the powers of a Frankenstein, thus making for basically the coolest character to ever plod around the realm of comics.
12. SUPERVILLAIN TECH
All right, all right — this isn’t technically him having superpowers, but if you count characters like Ant-Man and the Hobgoblin as being super powered, then this counts too, all right you animals? One time the Punisher got ahold of a bunch of enemies’ tech and decided, instead of destroying it, to use it. He had a faux Captain America shield, he got Pym Particles, which allowed him to shrink in size, he found the Goblin’s glider, a supersonic hand, goblin bombs, and a Doctor Octopus tentacle.
While, again, that’s not technically a super power, it is super awesome (and also, c’mon, it’s basically a BUNCH of super powers). Plus, seeing the Punisher flying around on the Goblin’s glider, while using Doctor Octopus’ tentacle, is basically so cool it should definitely qualify.
11. SUPERHUMAN TOLERANCE
Sure, sure, you can argue that this isn’t actually a super power either, but let’s see you not screech “ow” when you get a splinter. You know when the Punisher doesn’t say “ow?” When he gets shot… or beaten… or tortured. It seems that the Punisher has an almost superhuman pain tolerance. This isn’t just us saying he’s incredibly stoic or anything. What we’re getting at is that most human beings go into shock after a certain amount of damage — or pass out — or lose so much blood that they faint. But the Punisher never seems to. He gets beaten almost as badly as The Wolverine on a regular basis, but he doesn’t handle it worse than the clawed biped. Basically, the Punisher has some super power that allows him to endure a lot of pain. Okay, let’s be real, he’s just a super badass.
10. RESISTANCE TO PSYCHICS
One thing that basically any single character in any superhero universe is weak against are psychic attacks. Unless you’re also a psychic or have been trained by one, then you’re probably going down. Or, unless you have a super cool helmet, then you’ll probably be fine. But basically, psychic attacks are the be-all, end-all attacks. But not to the Punisher.
Frank Castle can just shrug them off like a headache. When people attempt to control his mind, or psychically shut him down, he just goes, “Meh,” and continues — that is how strong his hate and anger are. He just drives on, no matter what, even if someone is attempting to hijack his brain. See, even though that could just count as human resilience, it’s so cool that it basically counts as a superpower.
9. SORCEROR EXTREME
Secret Wars (2015) was a pretty cool series in which basically anything that could happen did — and then everything exploded… twice. During that series, which had literally hundreds of different tales going on within it, possibly the coolest thing that ever happened came true: The Punisher became the Sorcerer Supreme and used magic guns to kill the hell out of people. Although, hold on, that’s not quite true.
He didn’t become the Sorcerer Supreme; he became the Sorcerer Extreme. That’s right, the Punisher is so cool that his very existence changes the name of the Sorcerer Supreme. If you don’t think becoming the main sorcerer in all of existence doesn’t qualify the Punisher as being superpowered then, honestly, we don’t know what to tell you. It counts. It SO counts.
8. SATAN’S BLESSING
The Punisher has done a lot of things, most of them bad, and through it all he basically never dies and almost never gets caught. It’s almost like he has some kind of protection around him. Well, as it turns out, he actually does. In Punisher: Born, we go back to when he was working as a soldier in Vietnam. He and his fellow soldiers are ambushed on a hill and a voice — the one he’s been hearing throughout the series — tells him that he can protect him, that he can help him, that he can save him from this place and give him an endless war, a war that he’ll fight for the rest of his life. However, to do that… he needs a yes. All the Punisher needs to do is say “yes,” and he will have power, with a cost. The Punisher says, “yes,” and shortly thereafter his family dies and he gets the war he always wanted, protected by that being who saved him and gave him the war — death… or the devil.
7. SUPER HEARING
The Punisher is basically the best “normal” human being in the Marvel Universe. Captain America had pseudo-magical science take him to the highest heights of being a human being. Aside from him, it’s the Punisher. Case in point, he has the hearing and sensual control (not THAT kind) greater than any other human in the Marvel universe. Sure, this is pretty much relegated to his appearance in the forgotten The Punisher: War Zone, but it still counts because it is an exceptional talent that no mere mortal can truly replicate. During War Zone, his hearing is definitely super-powered, and honestly if we look at the comics, we see a bunch of times where he’s so super prepared for someone coming that it makes the most sense that the reason why is because he heard them — from far, far away.
6. MACGUYVER SKILLS
MacGuyver was an old television show, which, if you watched it as a kid… look, we just want you to know that millenials are laughing at you. For the non-40 year olds, MacGuyver was a character who could use basically anything — a paper clip and a piece of gum — to make anything else (like a nuclear bomb). He was basically like the Professor from Gilligan’s Island, in case we have anyone super old reading this.
Well, the Punisher is basically like all of those old people combined, but also just hellbent on murdering. He can use almost anything to make a weapon. One time he hit someone with a shark, another time, he killed someone with an obese person. He uses anything that is near him to kill and kill and then kill some more. If ingenuity doesn’t count as a superpower, what does?
5. BULLET SPONGE
No, this isn’t the same thing as having a high pain tolerance. See, most human beings when they get shot a bunch… [SPOILER]… they die, or fall apart and die. Basically, getting shot a lot isn’t normally the best thing for you, but that’s just because you’re not the Punisher. Getting shot in the face, spine, neck, and hands is basically how the Punisher wakes up every day. It’s his form of a morning coffee. When he wakes up, he shoots himself in the foot just so he knows it’s not a dream. Okay, that’s not true, but it’s not far off, either.
Okay seriously, Punisher has been shot so much, he probably has more bullets in his body than Wolverine. If he goes through a metal detector, it would probably just blow up. Him in an MRI would count as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. You could shoot him in the head and he’d probably just walk it off. Because the Punisher is a freaking superhero, superpowers or not!
4. VENOM PUNISHER
All right, now we’re getting into the really good stuff — the ol’ What If? stories, which were where Marvel’s collective imagination truly ran wild. For instance, what if it was a different Catholic who entered that church the night that Spider-Man removed the symbiote from his body? As we all know, Spider-Man got infected by a symbiote who brought out his worst impulses and ripped it off, where it dropped onto Eddie Brock, who became Venom. Here, though, Frank Castle was in the church and he got the Venom Symbiote.
You know what that means? Yep, Frank Castle, the freaking Punisher, became Venom! Honestly, the fact that this hasn’t happened in the mainstream universe is a sin on par with the Clone Saga. If Eddie Brock hadn’t just recently returned to the role that he made famous, we would be lobbying harder, because that ultra-violence is a match made in hell!
3. IRON PUNISHER
What If? stories are almost always good, but sometimes they’re filled with the most ridiculous stuff imaginable. For instance, think of the Punisher. Now imagine he was actually a different superhero. Fill your mind with all the different superheroes he could possibly be. Now, did you think Iron Man? Well, then, that just goes to show that you’re not the writer of a certain What If? in which Frank Castle, instead of becoming the Punisher, became Iron Man!
In this tale, Captain America formed the Avengers rather than the original team, but honestly who cares about that? In this book, the Punisher becomes Iron Man first to help establish a fascist America, before he becomes inspired by Cap and changes his tune. His suit is even darker , cast in black and even boasting a glorious white skull on the chestplate!
2. CAPTAIN PUNISHER
Captain America and the Punisher have an interesting relationship. Both of them were born — both in comics and out — out of America’s wars. Cap was a product of World War II and Punisher is Vietnam. As such, both are soldiers and show, even at their minimum, a grudging level of respect for one another. Occasionally, Frank Castle even goes so far as to say that Cap is his favorite hero, the one he’ll never fight — no matter what.
Which brings us to the What If? where Frank Castle became Captain America. Instead of young Steve Rogers receiving the super soldier serum, it was Frank Castle who got it and became a dark reflection of the true Captain America, a mixed amalgam of our feelings about Vietnam and World War II, becoming one of the more honest reflections of what America is. Also, he got a sweet shield!
1. PUNISHER 2099
But then there’s one story that isn’t a What If? It’s a full on future story that was part of the 2099 imprint at Marvel in the ’90s. One of its most popular books was Punisher 2099 for very good reasons. In this story, the Punisher is a man from the future who takes inspiration from Frank Castle. But since it’s the future, he has all of the coolest toys. He’s basically like The Punisher, but he also stole a bunch of bad guys’ tech, giving him abilities far beyond the ken of mortal men.
Proving he has super powers of a sort, at one point, this Punisher jumps out of a building screaming that he doesn’t need a jetpack, all he needs is hate. That, alone… that amazing sentence… should qualify him as not only the best, most superpowered Punisher ever, but also the best superhero that has ever existed. Ever.
Are there any other times you can think of where the Punisher had superpowers? Let us know in the comments!