When The Punisher premieres on Netflix on November 17, it may be rather easy to be sucked in to the notion that this story is just an ultra-violent tableau, one that celebrates violence and decorating the streets with blood. This is a horror show even more so than a “superhero show.” The violence is a substitute for emotional pain, and a character trying to use it to answer a need that they may never be able to resolve.
Jon Bernthal is the man behind Frank Castle, the main tortured figure and a man desperate to heal after losing his family. While you may have seen him for the first time over on another Marvel – Netflix series in Daredevil, we guarantee that you have not seen him like this. It’s a different show with a different tone and perspective; Bernthal knows that, and he is intent on getting the integrity of this character right. He’s not someone you’re meant to look at and say “oh, he’s a badass.” It’s more that you wonder what happened to this man to bring him to this sunken place of despair.
In teeing up this series more in a new interview with Variety, Bernthal had the following to pass along:
“This is a real piece about grief; it’s about pain … What we ask in the course of this season is ‘What do you do next? What do you do with the war inside, and how do you face that?’”
We would argue that Frank Castle’s actions are a way to not face it — violence is his way of looking away from the pain in his heart. He is punishing others — but not so much the criminals, but the families and friends of these people who were innocent. The deceased are still people even if the legal system may teach us to desensitize them. These innocents are going to be punished into feeling the same feelings that Frank Castle is — and in turn, maybe his actions could breed more Punishers in the future. This may not be a concept that the first season explores, but it is one of the more interesting concepts that The Punisher could explore if it gets a chance to have a second season down the line.
If the series focuses on the emotional pain, The Punisher will be a story done right by Netflix. If it’s merely gratuitous violence and gore, then it fails to do right by Bernthal’s statement or the true integrity of the source material.
What is your take on The Punisher as a concept?
Are you watching for the violence, the storytelling, or something that is in between? Share in the comments below!
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