Blazing onto screens after a solid run of hit Marvel shows on Netflix, The Punisher will take up where Daredevil season 2 left off. Daredevil’s sophomoric season introduced us to the killing machine that is Frank Castle, and followed him on his mission of vengeance as he sought out the people responsible for killing his family. Frank Castle is now a wanted man on the run from the government, the police, and a mysterious private military corporation known as Anvil. Over the last several months, we’ve been treated to teasers, set photos, interviews, and trailers. All either lacked a release date or had it scratched out.
We’ve pieced together from the vast nebula of source material -- which included real trailers and “found footage”-- and what we think we’ll see when The Punisher finally drops on Netflix. Do we have any idea? Are we truly prepared for this level of awesome? We know it will be gritty and we know it will for sure be violent. We know it will probably make us crap ourselves, but boy are we excited. CBR has rounded up the 15 things that you need to remember going into this momentous occasion so you’re prepared to have your mind blown.
15 FRANK HAS A NO-CHILL ORIGIN STORY
Most people are familiar with the grim details of Frank Castle’s origin story; it’s been told and retold in various comic book and cinematic formats almost as much as Bruce Wayne’s. There’s a reason for that; it’s vital to the understanding of Frank Castle’s vengeance-fueled personality. Though the medium might change, the details don’t, and every version includes the brutal massacre of his family.
In the vast majority of the comic and film versions of Frank’s origin story, his family is the tragic result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, namely in the crossfire of a mafia hit. Sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it turns out it was on purpose. Daredevil season 2 revealed that the hit was ordered by the commander of Frank’s old Marine Corps unit in Iraq, Colonel Ray Schoonover.
14 HE’S FINALLY GOING TO SPORT THE SKULL LOGO
The skull logo, along with two smoking guns and a trench coat are synonymous symbols for The Punisher. They go together like blood spray on walls. Daredevil season 2 had Frank sporting simple, utilitarian looks with dark jeans, field jackets, tactical boots, and hoodies. He didn’t yet have his ballistics vest or a shirt with the skull logo emblazoned on it.
It makes sense, because the season was used as a jumping off point for the character, and a nice way to showcase the origins of his character so that they could focus more on his growth when his own series finally rolled around. At the conclusion of Daredevil season 2, he’s sporting the logo we all associate with The Punisher, as he’s finally accepted his true calling, and that it is bigger than going after just the murderers that took the life of his family.
13 WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
Since the news broke that Netflix was going to be developing a Punisher television series, fans have been freaking out over any piece of information that’s released (which never seemed to include a release date). From teaser trailers, to actual trailers, to press releases, we’ve all been trying to piece together the plot and trajectory of the show.
The latest teaser trailer, which included “found footage” of a security camera clip, featured several armed paramilitary types on the hunt for Castle. We now know they’re part of Anvil, the private military corporation run by Billy Russo, a member of Frank’s old squad and now the CEO. Clearly a secretive organization formed after the nebulous events that occurred in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Frank is on their hit list. Or are they on his?
12 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
The brutal killing machine that is The Punisher didn’t come by his skills accidentally. Frank Castle is a veteran, and his martial abilities were honed in overseas combat. Originally an army veteran of the Vietnam War, he was upgraded to being a former Force Reconnaissance Marine.
To position the character of Frank Castle in the current military context, he is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. He has a close bond with his squad, led by Colonel Ray Schoonover who, as was revealed in Daredevil season 2, formed a group of drug and gun smugglers with other members of Frank’s cohort. Frank has kept the skills he acquired sharp, and when he found out the covert group had a hand in the death of his family, he goes all in to take them out, a mission he will continue in the new series. Oo-rah!
11 HE'S NOT A HERO OR A VILLAIN
Frank Castle may seem ruthless in the trailers, but Daredevil season 2 showed us that he had a softer side. Amidst the violent outbursts and abrasive demeanor, Frank Castle revealed a more vulnerable aspect of his personality to Karen Page. She endeavored to tease details out of him that would prove useful to Foggy and Matt Murdock when they were acting as his defense attorneys, details that would help prove his innocence for the murder of a District Attorney.
She visited him routinely in his prison cell and in the hospital, asking questions that allowed him to open up about his history. She even suggested he use a PTSD defense, but he refused, stating that what happened to him didn’t happen on the battlefield, and he wouldn’t disrespect the soldiers who really had it. It remains to be seen if he’ll be as gooey in the new series.
10 MATT MURDOCK WON’T BE THERE TO DEFEND HIM
When last we saw our hero, he had been defended by Nelson and Murdock, in “The Trial” Parts 1 and 2. Karen Page had been working him over, trying to get him to open up about his motivations, and trying to make him appear sympathetic to a jury. Foggy didn’t even want the case, but he was putting in the hours while Matt was once again obsessing over Elektra. When Matt does finally show up, his presence only serves to decrease the competence and faith we all had in his lawyering abilities.
Once Frank is on the stand, Matt asks the judge if he can “treat the witness as hostile” (legalese for being able to ask the witness leading questions), and proceeds to ask very few questions. After his long winded speech, Frank is soon found guilty. Maybe it’s best The Punisher has nothing to do with Matt Murdock.
9 HE SAVED KAREN’S LIFE
After the trial was a disaster, and Nelson and Murdock failed to keep Frank out of prison, he was sentenced to a stretch on Ryker’s Island. After a vicious breakout, he resumed his vigilante ways. When Frank got wind that he was being framed and set up by the Blacksmith, he went to find Karen Page, who happened to be working on an article about “The Punisher” for the New York Bulletin.
When the two fell under heavy gunfire, Frank saved Karen’s life, and she in turn helped him to identify the people responsible for his family’s murder. Both of them are people trying to be silenced, and all they’re after is the truth, a point which they bond over. He opened up to Karen and continued to do so as the series progressed and they got closer.
8 HE HAS NO SUPERPOWERS
Unlike the other heroes of Hell’s Kitchen that were recently featured in The Defenders, Frank Castle doesn’t have super strength, super speed, super senses, or any sort of mind control. He’s just a man with a mission, and if there’s any superpower he can purport to have, it’s willpower. Frank Castle has made a name for himself by being a regular joe amidst titans, whose sheer grit and determination, coupled with years of hard won military training have forged him into an unstoppable force of nature.
Not having superpowers doesn’t mean he can’t whoop those that do have them. He first appeared as a villain in the Spider-Man comics, and has gone on to duke it out with everyone from Wolverine to Captain America. He often is at odds against the entire Marvel Universe.
7 NO KIDS ALLOWED
Marvel has a distinctive tone to its Cinematic Universe that tends to be more lighthearted, with more comic relief than say, DC. Kid friendly. Daredevil was one of the first series to break away from that with a gritty look and a focus on both action and dramatic storytelling through adult themes. If you take what we’ve seen in Daredevil and crank it up, you’re getting close to the territory being promised by the creative team involved with The Punisher series.
Series showrunner and producer Steve Lightfoot has repeatedly said that it will properly convey the tone that The Punisher comics have had (albeit a few, like the Punisher/Archie comic crossover was worth a few chuckles), with adult themes, and plenty of graphic violence. Anything less would be a disservice to the great character arc of Frank Castle begun in Daredevil season 2.
6 THE SAME PRODUCER WAS INVOLVED WITH HANNIBAL
Series showrunner Steve Lightfoot was also the executive producer for the incredibly graphic Hannibal, which focused on Hannibal Lecter when he was still a practicing doctor of psychiatry and helping the FBI solve murders by serial killers. As gruesome as it was, it was anchored by powerful leading performances, strong plots, and beautiful cinematography. Lightfoot also wrote several episodes, helping to shape its distinctive mood and tone.
We can expect to see that same stamp of macabre chaos on The Punisher, and perhaps a little elegance inherent to the violence of the series. Hannibal got away with some pretty graphic gore by rendering it almost beautiful. The Punisher will have its own distinct look and feel, as it should, but it will definitely be through the shaping of capable creative hands. It will have to walk that line between shocking gratuity and dramatic restraint.
5 WE WILL FINALLY SEE MICROCHIP
James Bond has Q, Batman has Alfred, and The Punisher has Microchip. In The Punisher comics, David Linus “Microchip” Lieberman supplies Frank Castle with all the special weapons, technology, money laundering, and moral support he needs to dish out vengeance to bad guys. A genius hacker by trade, one hack brought him too close to actual criminals for his comfort, and he decided to lay low as an unassuming businessman. But when his nephew ran afoul of Kingpin and was killed for trying to hack into his private computers, he started to collaborate with Frank Castle.
In season 2 of Daredevil, Frank receives a CD disc with “Micro” written on it. In a recent teaser trailer, we hear Microchip's voice in a “glitch” from a surveillance tape, spouting some anti-government sentiments, and onset photos have depicted him the opposite of the overweight accountant type we’ve seen in the comics.
4 HE ONCE KILLED THE ENTIRE MARVEL UNIVERSE
It’s a long known fact that The Punisher doesn’t play well with others. This is why he isn’t a part of any superhero factions or groups, and prefers to hunt criminals alone. He has less opinions concerning his methods to deal with, and he can lead the solitary lifestyle he prefers, while never having to get close to anyone. This also means that he’s usually at odds with every superhero group there is, which usually leads to some violent altercations. But the entire Marvel Universe?
In The Marvel Universe vs. The Punisher Volume 1 , The Punisher exists in a post-Apocalyptic world where both superheroes and villains have turned into cannibals. It’s all Spider-Man’s fault, who went rabid years before while fighting Rhino and turned into some sort of zombie. One man must hunt the wasteland that is NYC; The Punisher, aka The Last Gun On Earth.
3 KAREN PAGE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT CHARACTER
The relationship between Frank Castle and Karen Page was one of the most unlikely but engrossing ones in Daredevil season 2. It allowed viewers to see different sides of both the characters; Frank could be a little less distant, a little less aggressive, and quite honestly, it gave him a lot more dialogue than we’d otherwise get if all he did was mow dirtbags down. She successfully assists him in finding out the identities of the people responsible for the murder of his family, and he shows that he doesn’t just take lives when he saves hers during a crossfire.
Originally the character of Karen Page wasn’t going to appear in the series, but producer Steve Lightfoot liked their chemistry so much that he wanted her to be a part of it. Her presence will not only be great for enhancing Frank Castle’s story arc, but also continue to build hers.
2 THE EDITOR OF THE NEW YORK BULLETIN WILL RETURN
When Karen Page left the offices of Nelson and Murdock, “avocados at law”, she began her career as an investigative journalist, taking over the offices of Ben Urich, who tragically lost his life investigating Kingpin’s personal affairs. Karen had a natural aptitude with her hard-nosed commitment to uncovering the truth. She’ll be tracking down the latest scoops in The Punisher series, and returning alongside her will be Mitchell Ellison, the editor of the New York Bulletin.
Ellison and Urich often clashed over the Bulletin’s content, with Ellison being in favor of whatever would sell the most papers, and Urich being in favor of real hard hitting stories that uncovered corruption. Ellison played it safe and stayed under Kingpin’s radar, but when he had to fire Urich for getting too deep into a story, he knew he’d made a mistake. Here’s hoping he grows a pair in the new series.
1 JIGSAW WILL MAKE HIS FIRST APPEARANCE
Jigsaw (real name Billy Russo), The Punisher’s notorious arch nemesis, will finally make an appearance in the series. He will be played by Ben Barnes (most recently seen in Westworld), and be an old military friend of Frank’s. They served in the same unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan that was alluded to in Daredevil season 2, led by Colonel Ray Schoonover, aka the Blacksmith, and got into some heavy gun and drug running.
Billy Russo seems on the up and up, now the CEO of the Anvil Corporation, a private military force that is hunting Frank down. He and Frank have both suffered loss, tragedy, and trauma, and have emerged as different men because of it. But who is the villain and who is the hero when the lines in the sand are blurred and two allies become enemies? Barnes promises a charismatic and dynamic performance.
Are you excited to watch The Punisher? Let us know in the comments!