In a recent interview with CBR, Secret Empire scribe Nick Spencer opened up why he chose to have Frank Castle -- the vigilante also known as The Punisher -- side with Hydra Cap.
Spencer explained, "I was looking for a hero that I thought would cross that line and made the best kind of story sense. There’s obviously opinions on all sides of this. You have certain fans of the character saying, 'He would never do this.' Then you have other fans saying, 'Yeah, I think he would.' So there’s a lot of differing opinions on Frank’s motivations."
"I saw Frank as getting hit by a few things," he continued. "The first is that it’s been long established that Frank holds Cap as a hero, and I always thought that was an intriguing part of his character because it’s the idealism he still won’t let go of. So this was all coming from the man Frank maybe looks up to the most in the world....The second was that Steve would come to him in the same way he approached Zemo; by telling him everything he wanted to hear. He would offer approval and say, 'I think you’ve been right all these years in the way you’ve been fighting this war on crime. Not only do I accept that you do this, I’m going to help you do it. I’m going to give you whatever resources you need, and I’m going to give you unlimited power to conduct this war. All I care about is that the job gets done.'
Spencer admitted that he saw the Punisher as an individual who would identify with Steve's take on law enforcement. "I imagine that’s an enormously tempting offer for Frank," he said. "While he may have had any number of problems with previous iterations of Hydra, I think he would look at what Steve was doing in terms of the law enforcement aspect of it, and see a lot to like."
The Secret Empire author went on to say that Frank was immensely tempted by the world Cap could create using the Cosmic Cube. "The final thing that moved Frank into Steve’s camp is the fact that every time Steve did something of major consequences that lost lives or that we’d look at and go, 'That’s evil and horrible!' Steve would say, 'All these things are short term solutions. Once I have the Cosmic Cube, I’m going to create a better world.' I think for Frank, that temptation would really be the last nail in his coffin per se. Once he heard that and could kind of see that world in the back of his head he would do anything for it."
Spencer added, "The reasons for that are pretty obvious. He’s got a lot of emotional scars himself, and he often insists that he would never take it all back, but I think a really strong case is made when somebody is holding all of that in front of you and says, “I can give it all back to you and you’d have the life you always wanted.”
"Ultimately, this was the decision that Frank made," Spencer concluded, "and we all felt like the reasons and justification for it were pretty strong. Plus, I think one of the reasons the Punisher is one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe is that he can be viewed so many different ways. I think he gave us a really huge moment in the series. That scene revealing him at the end of the third issue is one of my favorites in the book."
Check out Spencer's full interview with CBR here. The entire Secret Empire saga is currently available in comic shops nationwide.