I’ve been a fan of The Punisher for as long as I’ve known about the infamous Marvel character, which is a pretty long time. Even after the disappointing films based on the comics that came and went, I’ve always hoped somehow someone would finally get him right. Then out of nowhere, Jon Bernthal nails it in season two of Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite seasons of a show ever. So it was only natural they’d make a spin-off show with Marvel’s The Punisher. It gambles with an extremely slow paced long game, but those who stick with it and the awesome cast that brings the characters and stories to life will score a nice payoff in the end.
Taking place not long after the events of Daredevil season two, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is doing his best to lay low with a construction job and manage his anger issues when it comes to dealing with his murdered wife and kids. It isn’t long before some jerks at his job push him to become violent, and force him to start all over again somewhere else. He also receives a video of a crime he was part of back in his Marine days by a hacker named Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) who is also known as Microchip in the comics, and seeks to form a partnership with Castle in order to take out the rest of the people responsible for making him do the crime and for killing Castle’s family. While those plates are spinning, they add in a few more with Homeland Security’s Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) looking into the crime as well, since her partner was the killed in it and she has a feeling Castle is still alive and can help her close the case. Add in some of Frank’s old Marine buddies such as Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) who is trying to help out vets with PTSD, and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) who now runs a private military firm, and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) returning from Daredevil as a sort of love interest/focal point for Frank, and you got a lot going on that comes together slowly but surely.
I’ll go ahead and be honest, those looking for some balls-to-wall, Rambo-like Punisher action in every episode are going to be disappointed, as this series takes its sweet time with the characters, their stories and struggles. Sure there’s firefight action here and there, and yes there are moments with Frank goes off the rails and becomes as violent and feral as Logan/Wolverine (if not more so), but you can tell that’s not what the show is about in the end. They really try to show off Frank’s vulnerable, depressed, angry sides as he deals with his family’s murder while trying to keep it together for those relying on him, such as Micro and his family he has to stay hidden from to keep them safe, or Madani and trying to forge a partnership with her to bring down the baddies. I’ll admit they do a really good job of pulling this off, but it makes the show drag on quite a bit and takes some getting used to as sometimes it’s all about the violence and at other times it’s about stopping violence.
If you don’t mind the slow ride Marvel’s The Punisher takes you on, you’ll be in for a violent yet deep treat thanks to a spot on cast that brings every character to life with their pains, joys, and struggles. This may turn away those looking for Rambo-like Punisher action, but this is hands down one of the best comic book adaptations I’ve seen and I can’t wait to see what season two brings if Netflix continues down Frank’s dark and bloody road.