The Punisher’s solo outing gives us a solid snapshot of who this character is, but it’s left me wondering if he’s too violent for the rest of the MCU.
I didn’t love The Punisher as much as I thought I would (you can read my review here), but it was still a great portrayal of the character. Frank Castle is not the easiest person to get along with (or track down), but he’s a good guy to have on your side in a fight.
When The Punisher was announced, fans of the comic book character knew his spinoff show would be full of gunfire and fistfights. That’s kind of the guy’s M.O. The show had to be a bloody one; anything less than that wouldn’t have done the character justice.
But I’m wondering if Frank Castle belongs in the same universe Marvel has been setting up for us since 2008.
Don’t get me wrong, I know people die in the MCU. The good guys are even sometimes responsible. That’s how Civil War kicked off, after all.
The Punisher’s methods are even interesting to put side by side with Daredevil’s. Matt refuses to kill anyone, which Frank clearly doesn’t understand: “You hit ’em and they get back up. I hit ’em and they stay down!”
This is who the character is. I’m not arguing with that. I’m not even disagreeing with his methods. He’s taken out some pretty dangerous people — people who have used the system to their advantage and ended up hurting others in the process.
But the rest of the MCU works tirelessly to keep the souls of our heroes intact.
When Jessica snapped Kilgrave’s neck, it was a big deal. As murder should be. But Frank kills people left and right. Society has labeled him a terrorist. He’s nearly impossible to catch, nearly impossible to stop in a fight. If Frank Castle were anyone else, the Defenders would probably team up to stop him.
But The Punisher is not a bad guy; his methods are just unorthodox. This show works as a standalone series, but considering how hard the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe works to make sure our heroes remain as good as possible, it’s a bit difficult to see Frank’s bloody methods on our screens.
The character who has come closest to Frank’s tendency to shed blood is Elektra, but even then her bloodlust is explained away by the fact that she’s Black Sky. Frank is just human. Elektra has no qualms about killing, but where Frank owns his identity, Elektra tried to change for Matt. In the end, that didn’t do her many favors, though.
But no one is trying too hard to change Frank. And even if they are, there’s little chance they’ll make much headway. Frank may have shown a modicum of mercy in the final episode of The Punisher season 1, but he took a grotesquely bloody road to get there.
Perhaps it’s all the real-life violence that’s got me contemplating whether what we’re seeing in The Punisher is absolutely necessary. It’s why my colleague (and our regular Marvel TV writer) won’t be watching the show.
I think upon rewatch, I wouldn’t view the violence as excessive as I do now. This is who Frank is as a character. Any story involving him is going to be bloody. My real question is whether or not he can exist in the same universe as other Marvel heroes who are constantly doing everything they can to never take a life.
At which point will it become unrealistic that one of the other MCU heroes hasn’t locked Frank Castle up for good?