With Netflix’s latest Marvel show arriving in the form of Punisher, it’s safe to say that all eyes are now on Frank Castle. The controversial anti-hero has had a somewhat rocky history with the big and small screen, appearing in multiple movies that ultimately never did the character justice, before finally finding a series and an actor worthy to wear the skull on his chest.
Jon Bernthal -- previously of Walking Dead fame -- was introduced as ex-marine Frank Castle in Daredevil season two, and he was an instant hit with fans. The darker, brutal nature of Netflix’s show about the Man Without Fear turned out to be a perfect home for Punisher, and it wasn’t long before fans were demanding more. His appearances in that show were the perfect mix of violence and pathos, showing a man tormented by grief and driven by revenge, so it was only a matter of time before more of his story was explored. Now, in this brand new series, we get to see in bloody detail just what led to a family man who fought for his country to become an uncompromising vigilante. To celebrate, we here at CBR are trawling the net to find the 15 most brutal Punisher memes!
15 TOYING AROUND
It must be so strange to have a toy dedicated to you, or rather a character that you play. These days you can buy action figures or statues of just about any pop culture figure you can imagine, so the odds of celebrities having action figures of themselves have never been greater. Throw in the fact that the modeling and production of these collectibles are so high, and there are plenty of famous folks that can own near-perfect mini replicas of themselves.
It’s pretty safe to say that Funko POP vinyl figures aren’t exactly photo-realistic, but they manage to capture likenesses surprisingly well with such a simple design, so seeing Jon Bernthal holding the Funko POP of "himself" is still a lot of fun. There’s no doubt an action figure of his portrayal of Shane from Walking Dead, but Punisher is a different thing entirely.
14 KILLING JOKE
The times when Frank Castle and Bruce Wayne have actually met is extremely minimal, so the authenticity of this exchange as true canon is a little suspect; however, the sentiment is still valid. Despite that fact that casual fans will probably put Batman and Punisher in the same category, true fans know there are some distinct differences.
Aside from the fact that one dresses like a big bat, the biggest difference is their moral code, the line in the sand that they will not cross. For Batman, it’s that he will never kill. It’s happened occasionally in his past, especially in those early adventures, but generally speaking, he will save a life, not end it. Punisher, however? Punisher has no line in the sand, and if he were in Gotham, Joker would have been dead long ago.
13 TURKEY SEASON
Punisher may be many things, but subtle isn’t one of them. Sure, he’s probably got the skills to go hunting for his food, but he’s too busy hunting mafia bosses and scumbag drug lords to go after a lowly turkey. There’s something amusing about the idea of Punisher and Daredevil sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner together, though, that makes us want this text exchange to be real.
Quite why Frank would think it would be ok to hunt turkey with a claymore is anyone’s guess, but again, we can’t imagine he has the patience for such a sport. Big game hunting might be more his speed; it’s not hard to see him heading out to the Savage Land with Kraven the Hunter, but fetching the Thanksgiving dinner is probably not his forte.
For some fans, this was a real dilemma. When a new show hits on Netflix, it’s hard to avoid spoilers if you can’t binge straight away. Of course, some fans are right there pressing play the second it goes live, plowing through hours of television as quickly as possible in order to start the conversation online. Similarly, you can’t wait forever to see the latest movie release, as spoilers go up almost instantly these days.
When it was announced that both Punisher and Justice League would be released on the same day this year, it was a tough choice for some. For the rest of us, though, we knew exactly who we’d prefer to see, and his name was Frank Castle. Violent, bloody vengeance on the streets of New York beats brightly colored letdowns any day of the week, and there wasn’t a super-power in sight.
11 BATMAN V PUNISHER
Ben Affleck’s face says it all. Despite the differences between the two characters, people will still draw similarities between The Dark Knight and The Punisher, and with comparisons comes the inevitable debate about who would win in a fight. For actor Jon Bernthal, however, there isn’t any debate: Frank would wipe the floor with Bruce.
There’s something to be said about an actor standing by his character; after all, it would be no good if Bernthal had no faith in his counterpart’s skills. For many comic book fans, though, there’s no question that Bats would win. However, if we’re talking Netflix Punisher versus Batfleck, maybe the playing field is a little more even? We’ve not see Batman be especially powerful in either Batman V Superman or Justice League, so maybe Punisher stands more of a chance.
When it comes to a sense of humor, Frank Castle hasn’t ever really shown that he has one. It’s perfectly understandable really, what with his whole family being killed and his never-ending quest for bloodthirsty revenge. He’s not really got the same motivation to crack jokes, which is why he’d be perfect at it.
Think about it, he’s the Marvel character you’d least expect it from, meaning that if and when he came out with a perfect one-liner, it would take you completely by surprise and would probably be way more hilarious than if you heard one from Ol’ “Quantity over Quality” Peter Parker. Still, even in that unlikely scenario, it’s hard to imagine him coming out with puns this bad. Cheesy, Schwarzenegger one-liners sure, but Puns don’t seem like Frank’s style.
9 MURDER’S MY BEST FRIEND
This wouldn’t be the first time that Punisher and Spider-Man have clashed over their individual moral compasses. Punisher’s first appearance was in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, after all, and even then their approach to killing was vastly different. It’s safe to say that Frank Castle stands alone in his stance on killing, so turning to him for advice like this was never going to end well for Peter.
When Spider-Man has had a quest in the past wherein he announced that no one else was going to die on his watch, it’s clear that he is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum to the Punisher. The untold hundreds of bad guys that Frank has killed at this point would make Spider-Man’s hair turn grey, so probably for the best that he remains this naive.
8 FAULTLESS LOGIC
You can say what you like about the Punisher’s methods, but it’s hard to fault that logic. Who knows how many lives would be saved if every hero in the Marvel universe thought like this? The truth, however, is that if everyone fought the way Frank Castle does, there’d be no such thing as heroes, only more villains.
Some comic book characters take a great tragedy and rise to greatness. Characters like Spider-Man, Batman or even Daredevil suffered great tragedy but chose to become something better. Frank, however, decided that if you can’t beat them, kill them, and he’s never looked back. This approach brings him into conflict with superheroes more often than he’d like, but to him, there’s only one way to do it properly, and that’s to make sure when they’re down, they stay down.
7 JUDGE, JURY, EXECUTIONER
Sometimes, all it takes is a little perspective. When Punisher was first introduced into the MCU in season two of Daredevil, the ideological and physical clash between Frank castle and Matt Murdock was fascinating, as it looked at two men who both operated outside of the law, but had two very different approaches.
While Matt Murdock married his vigilante life with his expertise as a defense lawyer to enact justice as the Man Without Fear known as Daredevil, Frank Castle’s deadly force as the Punisher ensured that the criminals would never re-offend, due to their terminal case of death. It’s only when you compare these two opposing forces to a character like Judge Dredd, who operates as Judge, Jury and Executioner all in one, that you see just how these viewpoints could actually go hand-in-hand.
6 SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Netflix Marvel shows exist in the same universe as the Big Screen Marvel adventures. That means that while Tom Holland is zipping around Queens as the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Frank Castle is slaughtering as many scumbags as he can on the streets of New York as the Punisher.
This vast difference in the two worlds would be jarring if not for the simple fact that these two types of stories have existed side-by-side for years in the comics, alongside horror comics, science fiction and kid-friendly adventure. Their approaches may be wildly different, but they all go together to make a rich shared universe of heroes, villains and everything in between. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Frank Castle going on a mission with Rocket Racoon anytime soon but hey, at least we know that it’s possible.
5 BORN FOR BATTLE
When it comes to violent confrontations, Frank Castle knows what he’s doing. Whether it’s the comic book version of the character, who spent his formative years fighting for his country in Vietnam, or the Netflix version that saw him fighting as a marine in Iraq, Castle was no stranger to violence even before he donned the iconic skull symbol of the Punisher.
When faced with petty crooks and thieves then, you would assume that they’re more scared of him than the other way around. You’d be right too, as his notoriety makes its way around the underworld pretty fast, making even the mention of his presence as something to be feared. He’s carved out quite a reputation for himself -- sometimes literally -- so it’s no surprise that he has the ability to terrify quite so easily.
4 THE DEFENSE RESTS
“Always be the best version of yourself. Unless you can be Batman, then be Batman.” As a saying, that’s done the rounds for a number of years now, but arguably Frank Castle has gone one better, choosing to be the best version of himself that just so happens to be the Punisher. After the senseless violence that tore his family away from him, who can blame him?
Well, it turns out the United States government can blame him, as there’s no doubt that his vigilante activities and penchant for constant slaughter are absolutely illegal, and as such wherever he goes, there’s always a detective or seven not too far behind. Frank’s only defense -- “I gotta be me!” -- is one that he’s sticking with, and one we should all aspire to. Just preferably without all the killing.
3 PUNISHER: THE END
We’ve all felt this pain when you binge a series so fast and so voraciously that you have no idea the end is so close until there are just no more episodes left. You can blame Netflix, for automatically streaming one after the other, only occasionally asking if you’ve had enough and making it easy to go “just one more.” Or you can blame the standard length of limited series being so much shorter than the 22 episodes of standard network shows.
No matter the reason, shows like Punisher will always end too soon. It’s a good thing in a way because it’s a sign that you loved the show so much. There’s nothing better than being so absorbed in a new series that you lose all track of time. Unfortunately, though, that ultimately leads to sadness and a long wait for the next season.
Marvel and Netflix have been pretty consistent with their release schedule these last few years, meaning that unless you’re really on the ball you won’t have had much chance to finish one before the next one begins. It was always the plan to have Defenders be the culmination of its four predecessors -- Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist -- but the popularity of Punisher secured him a season all of his own.
Coming hot on the heels of Defenders, Punisher saw its release in November this year, and for some fans, the choice was whether to continue with the super team-up we’ve been waiting for, or start a brand new show. Thanks to the unfortunately poor reception of Defenders, however, Punisher has stolen a lot of fans away.
This can’t be a coincidence, surely? Andy’s brutish neighbor Sid Phillips from the original Toy Story movie was infamous for stealing toys -- mostly from his little sister -- and converting them into monstrous deformities, making his bedroom and backyard a hellish landscape for wayward toys to find themselves.
While Frank Castle is never cruel to those who don’t deserve it, it’s easy to imagine that he wouldn’t be totally unlike Sid when he was a kid. We all know that the Punisher was born when his wife and children were killed (although some would argue that the war was where Punisher was really born), he had to have learned those skills from somewhere, right? Why not when he was younger, experimenting with toys like Woody and Buzz?
Have you been digging The Punisher on Netflix? Let us know in the comments!