Batman. The Punisher. One man is on a relentless quest to avenge the death of his family, the other wears an iconic symbol on his shirt and puts fear into criminals on every street corner. Wait, now we’re confused on which person we’re describing. Both Frank Castle and Bruce Wayne had their families taken away by criminals and have devoted their lives to fighting crime and cleaning up the streets of New York and Gotham City, respectively. Criminals know that if they get anywhere near the pale skull logo or the bat-symbol, they’re going to be in a world of hurt. Yes, the two men have remarkable similarities, but they also have profound differences.
What makes Punisher so different from Batman? They both have sidekicks, both have returned from the dead, both have fought in space, they both utilize gadgets and have profoundly good hand-to-hand combat skills. However, there are some things that Punisher has done that Batman has not. We’re not saying that Punisher is better than Batman, but we are saying that Punisher teamed up with Eminem and became a literal Frankenstein’s Monster. Top that, Caped Crusader! Lock and load as we tackle 15 Things The Punisher Can Do that Batman Can’t.
15. PUNISHER CHANGED HIS ETHNICITY
In 1991, Punisher began a story arc called The Final Days. Instead of having to shoot a bunch of cops, Punisher decides to be taken peacefully. While he’s in jail, it’s clear that his former enemies are going to make every day of his a living nightmare. He’s able to escape and with the help of a plastic surgeon, he changes his face… and his race.
Borrowing a page from Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder, Frank Castle changed ethnicities and became black. For several issues he fights alongside Luke Cage and for lack of a better term the change to his skin color eventually “wears off.” In 2018 we will see a new series entitled Batman and The Signal. The Signal is Duke Thomas, a partner of Batman, who is black. Although Duke may one day become The Dark Knight, we don’t think Bruce Wayne will be going through any racial changes anytime soon. Given the perilous minefield such a story presents, it’s probably for the best.
14. PUNISHER STRAIGHT UP TORTURES PEOPLE
In The Dark Knight, Batman holds crime boss Maroni over the ledge of a building. Maroni smiles and says that the height won’t kill him; Batman agrees and drops Maroni. We can hear a variety of things break in his legs upon landing on the ground. Batman doesn’t kill but he can certainly be brutal to his enemies. Just when you thought criminals couldn’t get any more scared, Punisher says “hold my beer” and the torture really begins.
When it comes to inflicting pain the Punisher does not hesitate. Although you could argue that he learned his interrogation tactics from the time he spent in the military, you could also argue that he’s good at it because he’s cruel. Electrocution, water boarding, all that nasty stuff that they say is inhumane? Punisher has no problems with that.
13. PUNISHER TEAMED UP WITH SLIM SHADY
Batman has a lot of amazing team-ups over the years. The Dark Knight has partnered with Superman, Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, even Scooby-Doo. The Caped Crusader is typically a loner, so partnering up with a fellow hero is difficult. He’s had a number of great Robins over the years, and he’s due to get married to Catwoman soon, so maybe he’s finally opening up to people.
What’s the one team-up that Batman can’t match? Punisher legit teamed up with Marshall Mathers. Some of you know him as Slim Shady, others know him as Rap God Eminem. No, it wasn’t a dream, and besides using guns, Eminem also takes out a dude using a chainsaw. Sorry, Bats, we don’t know how you’re going to outdo that.
12. PUNISHER BECAME AN ACTUAL MONSTER
Batman can put fear into his prey, but there were some storylines where The Dark Knight became an actual monster. In Batman #350 the Caped Crusader was bitten by a vampire and suffered from the Curse of the Vampiri. Batman has also encountered evil, grotesque versions of himself in the storyline Dark Knights: Metal. However, Punisher may yet again have Batman beaten.
In the Dark Reign storyline, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been replaced with H.A.M.M.E.R., which is led by Norman Osborn. Osborn also wears a suit of Iron Man armor and leads the Dark Avengers, which are the Avengers but replaced with villainous counterparts. Standing in for Wolverine is his son, Daken, who soundly beats and kills Frank Castle. Just when you think it’s all over, the Punisher is literally resurrected and is renamed Franken-Castle due to his ghoulish appearance. Top that one, Batman!
11. SECRET IDENTITIES ARE FOR SUCKERS
With Batman you have some interesting dichotomies with his personality. When he’s not crimefighting as Batman, he’s billionaire Bruce Wayne, and although in the past he was portrayed as a playboy and socialite, other depictions show him using his resources to champion causes for good. Even Batman needs to take a break from being Batman every once and awhile… but not Punisher.
Punisher is always Punisher, morning, noon and night. He’s on a mission and he’s not going to stop anytime soon. Although technically his name is Frank Castiglione, he changed it to Castle, and all of those monikers are synonymous with death. There’s no need for a Punisher-symbol in the sky to shine when there’s trouble, because Frank Castle is looking all the time for trouble and he’s guaranteed to find it.
10. PUNISHER SHARES A NAME WITH A SPACE ROBOT
There’s no mistaking Batman when he jumps into action. There’s the distinct look of the Batmobile, the bat-logo prominently displayed on his chest, even the batarangs that he throws at villains lets you know who you’re fighting. It all stems from Bruce Wayne’s initial fear of bats. Then one day he decided to take that fear and instill it in others. We wonder if the Punisher knows that he shares a name with someone else.
Possibly unbeknownst to Frank Castle, the Punisher name was actually already taken before he started using it. Although Galactus is one of the strongest beings in the Marvel Universe he uses his Heralds to take action on his behalf. He also has on occasion used other proxies such as robots. One robot in particular was actually named the Punisher. Frank didn’t take the name because he’s a fan of the Eater of Worlds, it’s just a galactic coincidence.
9. PUNISHER ACTUALLY SCARES THE JOKER
The Punisher has actually met up with Batman in Gotham twice. The first time was in Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire, in which the mantle of Batman was taken on by Jean-Paul Valley. The second time was in Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights, and Frank Castle met the Bruce Wayne Batman. Although the two have definitely similar agendas, at the end of the day, the two men were just too different and it came to blows.
Batman was tracking down Jigsaw while the Punisher was tracking down The Joker. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt, but when the Joker was caught, he assumed he would be thrown into Arkham Asylum just as Batman has done in the past. But when the Punisher puts a gun to his head, the Joker realizes he’s a mouse playing with a completely different cat, and arguably for the first time, the Joker knows real fear.
8. PUNISHER HAS FREE TICKETS TO THE GUN SHOW
In Final Crisis, the situation was so dire that Batman broke one of his prime directives by using a gun and shooting Darkseid. However, in early depictions of Batman, he’s shown to wield handguns. Also in most movie depictions, Batman is shown to pilot a vehicle that has military-level weaponry, such as the Batmobile and Batplane in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and he’s not shooting for their knees.
Although Batman on occasion has used guns, it seems like The Punisher on every occasion has used a gun. Based on his military training, he’s proficient in almost every kind of weapon that’s out there, and he’s never shown a hesitation to use it. In Space:Punisher, Frank Castle floats around in the cosmos killing bad guys with space weaponry. No joke.
7. PUNISHER WAS GOING TO BE A PRIEST
Bruce Wayne’s parents were taken from him at a young age and as we all know this is the driving force that makes him fight crime as Batman. Bruce does go to college and excels at criminology but does not think about pursuing it as a career. It seems like he was destined to be the Caped Crusader and nothing else. The Punisher is a different story.
Frank Castle led a significant life long before he became the Punisher. He had a very active military career, he was married with children, and at one point even considered becoming a priest. Why didn’t he wear a white collar instead of a white skull on his chest? Because he is unable to forgive people for their sins. Maybe he was destined to be The Punisher after all.
6. ORIGINALLY WAS INTRODUCED AS A VILLAIN
Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 back in 1939. There have been changes to the character over the decades, but at the core of the character was a need to write wrongs, stand up for people that couldn’t stand up for themselves, and instill fear into those that would abuse others. Punisher’s origins are a little different.
Punisher first debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 back in 1974 and he started out as a vigilante who had no problems killing criminals. He was also originally intended to be a Spider-Man villain. At the time, Spider-Man was branded as a menace by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson and was accused of killing Norman Osborn, so Spidey became a target of the Punisher. Due to the surprising popularity of the character he would eventually team up with Spidey as well as other heroes.
5. PUNISHER WAS AN AVENGING ANGEL
Batman has always found a way to beat the odds. He’s one of the world’s best fighters as well as one of the world’s greatest detectives. Even when faced with death, he’s found a way to come back from the grave. Batman even survived being shot by Darkseid’s Omega Beams! So if Batman was able to come back to life due to sheer awesomeness, how is the Punisher supposed to top that?
Ah, the wacky 1990s. Besides giving us Red and Blue Superman, it also gave us the Avenging Angel Punisher. After apparently taking his own life, the Punisher returned, and besides fighting crime he was fighting supernatural threats as well. He could created strange, enchanted weapons and if you think this idea sounds ridiculous it certainly was a strange direction that was kind of swept under the rug.
4. PUNISHER IS A WAR VETERAN
Batman has seen lots of combat on the streets of Gotham, but Frank Castle has literally been in warzones… but which war? With Iron Man for example, Tony Stark was wounded in the Vietnam War but it’s later retconned to be from a skirmish in the Middle East; you could play around with time so that way characters could kind of stay the same age.
Punisher not only was listed as being born in 1950 but Frank Castle was stated to fight in Vietnam and appeared in several issues of The ‘Nam. So does that mean Punisher is an octogenarian? Unless he’s got a mutant super power we don’t know about Frank Castle is in his 80s! We’re sure that there is some number fudging going on and we’re definitely sure that you can take Frank Castle out of the war, but not the war out of Frank Castle.
3. PUNISHER RESISTED GHOST RIDER’S PENANCE STARE
Who can honestly say they’ve lived a life without regret? Perhaps Bruce Wayne regrets not doing more to prevent the death of his parents in Crime Alley. Or perhaps Batman has regrets regarding his relationship with Jason Todd or with Selina Kyle. Either way, Batman is haunted by his demons and that’s what makes the man who he is. Perhaps he can forgive, but can he forget as well? Time will tell, but we know the answer for the Punisher.
There have been many version of Ghost Rider, but they all have similar things in common, such as their ability to give the Penance Stare. If you’re on the receiving end of the Penance Stare, you get flooded with the pain that you’ve inflicted on your victims. The Penance Stare straight up didn’t work on Punisher, because the man literally has no guilt or remorse over what he’s done. Keep in mind the Penance Stare took down Galactus!
2. PUNISHER KILLED THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
In JLA: Tower of Babel, it’s discovered that Batman had plans to take down every member of the Justice League in case they ever decided to go rogue. Batman, given enough prep time, could plan for virtually every contingency. He had a plan to disable every hero in the Justice League, but could he take down every hero in the DC Universe? It may sound impossible, but Punisher did just that in the 1995 one-shot Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.
In this alternate reality, the Punisher is a Marine and member of the NYPD. His family members are not killed in Central Park by gang members, instead they are unfortunate casualties in a battle with the Avengers, X-Men and aliens. With the support of financial backers who also were injured during superhero battles, Frank Castle literally takes out every hero and villain, with the final fatality being himself.
1. PUNISHER IS A MASS MURDERER
Although Batman has a no killing policy, he has certainly killed people in his career as a crime fighter. It’s not something that Batman is proud of or does with frequency, but even Batman will admit that desperate times call for desperate measures. But has he killed as many people as the Punisher? You may want to sit down for this one, because Punisher’s kill count puts Rambo and John Woo to shame.
Just how many people has the Punisher punished? The Punisher made his first appearance in 1974 and has been terminating people ever since. If you guessed a couple of hundred people you’re way off. Marvel Editor Stephen Wacker put the number at over 48,000 people that have been Punished by Frank Castle. To put it in perspective the population of Juneau, Alaska is about 33,000 as of 2015. Care to take the day off, Frank?
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