WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for Marvel’s The Punisher, arriving Friday, Nov. 17, on Netflix.
After months of anticipation, and cryptic teasers, Marvel’s The Punisher at last arrives Friday on Netflix, shifting Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle from the role of sympathetic antagonist on Daredevil Season 2 to a full-blown protagonist.
Castle’s motivations and methods in his war on crime remain largely the same, but the 13-episode drama greatly expands his violent world, one populated by faces both new and familiar. What’s more, many of these key players are rooted in The Punisher’s Marvel Comics history, although some of them have undergone drastic changes in their journeys to live-action television.
Below we break down many of the key players of The Punisher‘s first season, and, when applicable, compare and contrast them to their comic book counterparts.
A man who needs no introduction, Frank Castle is of course the fan-favorite Marvel Comics vigilante who’s waged a one-man war against crime since his 1974 debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #129. When his family was murdered after witnessing a mob killing, the Marine veteran of the Vietnam War first sought revenge, and then launched a much larger crusade against against the mob and criminals in general. Initially an antagonist — in his first appearance The Punisher’s target was Spider-Man — Castle has evolved into a popular antihero, who still regularly comes into conflict with Marvel’s more traditional superheroes.
Played by Jon Bernthal, The Punisher was introduced on the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil, where he cuts a wide swath through New York City’s criminal underworld as retribution for the loss of his family, gunned down when they were caught in the middle of fight between rival gangs that’s later revealed to be part of a sting gone wrong. Believed dead in an explosion toward the end of Daredevil Season 2, Castle reemerges on The Punisher to kill the last of his targets before going off the grid again, to work in quiet anonymity in construction. However, he soon learns there’s more to the murders of his wife and children than he realized.
Known in Marvel comics as Microchip, David Lieberman was introduced in 1987 in The Punisher #4 as a computer hacker of renown until one of his scams nearly got him killed, leading to his “retirement.” While investigating the murder of his nephew, who had inadvertently hacked into the computers of Wilson Fisk, Microchip met and entered into a partnership with Frank Castle. Over the years he’s assisted in The Punisher’s crusade, obtaining information and difficult-to-find ammunition, setting up safe houses, outfitting vehicles (such as the legendary Battle Van), and laundering money.
Played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach on Marvel’s The Punisher, where his moniker is shortened to Micro, Lieberman is a former analyst for the National Security Agency who obtained video from Afghanistan that some powerful people in U.S. intelligence would rather remain hidden. Now believed dead, Micro has gone underground, and enlists Frank Castle in an uneasy partnership to take down their common enemies.
As well established on the first two seasons of Daredevil and on The Defenders, the Karen Page of Marvel’s Netflix dramas leads a decidedly different life from that of her comic book analog. Introduced in 1964 in Daredevil #1, Page was a secretary in the law firm of Nelson & Murdock and, at different times, a love interest of both Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. Learning Murdock’s secret identity created a chasm between the two, and she eventually left New York to pursue an acting career. Years later she reentered the picture as a heroin addict who sold Murdock’s secret to a drug dealer, who passed it on to Wilson Fisk. She reconciled with Murdock and received help for her addiction, but was ultimately murdered by Daredevil’s enemy Bullseye.
By contrast, the Karen Page of Marvel’s Netflix universe (played by Deborah Ann Woll) has her share of secrets — a mysterious event from her past, and her killing of Fisk’s right-hand man James Wesley — but her future seems brighter than her comic book counterpart’s. Still an investigative reporter for the New York Bulletin, on Marvel’s The Punisher she’s one of the few people who knows Frank Castle is alive.
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