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“The Punisher” Hits Netflix With a New Take on the Superhero Genre

By Mason Masotta; For the Clock
On December 9, 2017

Marvel continues to ride the success it has had with its original Netflix series, such as “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage,” with the release of “The Punisher.” Introduced last year during season 2 of “Daredevil,” the new series follows Frank Castle (played by former “Walking Dead” star Jon Bernthal), a shell shocked former Marine searching for vengeance. While fans of the character will recognize his comic book roots, it is important to understand this is not a traditional superhero show.

“The Punisher” explores many deep and pressing issues about modern American treatment of veterans retuning to everyday society. One of the core themes of the show is how ex-soldiers, like Frank, are unable to adjust to civilian life, offering examples of those who are able to recover from this change, and those that the country allows to fall to the wayside.

Just as his traditional origin presented, Frank Castle, after returning home from war, loses his family to what at first seemed like a random gang shootout, but was really a larger part of a grand conspiracy. With no one left to bring him back to his life before the war, Castle turns to the streets with an arsenal of weaponry, looking to take on his own brand of justice.

One of the most interesting aspects of the show is not actually the amazing fight choreography and action, but the question asked of the viewer: Is the The Punisher a hero?

This has always been a classic theme for the lethal vigilante, and it is refreshing to see it reflected in the official series. Bernthal does an amazing job portraying the tortured vet, bringing a deeper sympathy for a man obsessed with violence. After all, carrying a permanent scowl and thousand-yard stare, it can be difficult to sympathize with the anti-hero with nothing left to lose, at times.

The thirteen episode season provides strong pacing, along with twists and turns that bring both the viewer and Castle deeper down the rabbit hole with internal questions that require reflection. One thing will become clear from very early on in the show: The Punisher is not your typical “hero,” and there are no happy endings in this story. 

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