Marvel’s latest Netflix series went live on November 17, headlining the Marvel hero I dislike the most. There is no character that has ever had his or her own ongoing title by Marvel that I am less interested in reading about than The Punisher, and that’s including characters like US 1, the trucker who picks up CB radio signals through a metal plate in his skull. Is the series worth checking out?
Cast and Crew Information
Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / The Punisher
Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani
Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman / Micro
Ben Barnes as Billy Russo
Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman
Kobi Frumer as Zach Lieberman
Paul Schulze as Agent Orange
Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein
Ripley Sobo as Leo Lieberman
Daniel Webber as Lewis Walcott
Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle
Kelli Barrett as Maria Castle
Tony Plana as Rafael Hernandez
Written by Steve Lightfoot, Felicia D. Henderson, Dario Scardapane, and more not currently listed on the IMDB.
Directed by Andy Goddard and Tom Shankland going by the IMDB listings, but that only covers 4/13 episodes. Stephen Surjic also contributed for sure, as he has for virtually all of Marvel’s Netflix shows.
This is currently Netflix exclusive in all markets. DVD and/or Blu-Ray releases are not out of the question, but Netflix only seems to do that with their most popular shows, and even then after only a very long delay. (We’ve gotten Daredevil and Jessica Jones to own, but not Luke Cage, Iron Fist, or Defenders yet.)
As we learned in the second season of Daredevil, decorated marine Frank Castle’s family was killed, and he responded in kind to those he knew to be responsible. He ended that series under the radar and presumed dead. This series begins with the end of that mission, and then Castle starts to live quietly with an assumed name. Then he learns that the list of people responsible for the death of his family is significantly longer than he thought it would be.
This is what the Punisher should be. No super powers, and no pretense that he’s a hero like Captain America. This addresses the treatment of veterens head on, particularly as that reality is in the US, and demonstrates how easily such a mission can go off the rails.
My knowledge of the comics worked as a spoiler, since one of the names was immediately recognizable as the birth name of a character that isn’t even fully formed when the series ends. For the unitiated, who are not subject to that spoiler, I’d say the worst part would be the suspension of disbelief in terms of the injuries sustained by characters who keep on moving forward. Some of these are well beyond even John McClane levels of taking a beating.
This is an original take on the Punisher, as far as I know. My knowledge of the character is far more limited than my knowledge of the characters featured in other Netflix series, though. Like Luke Cage, this is a series that has a social message deeply embedded in the DNA of its storytelling. I give it 5 out of 6.
The effects are done well enough that I would give an advisory warning for violence to people who aren’t fans of gore. There’s a lot of it, and it all looks convincing. I give it 6 out of 6.
The story feels more dense than previous Netflix series. Some of those were 13 episode series that felt like they could have been 11 or 12 if they didn’t need to pad to get the big cliffangers in around the 50 minute marks. This series doesn’t have that. This is tightly packed, without a wasted minute. I give it 6 out of 6.
The acting is fantastic, particularly from Bernthal. He is fully immersed in the character, right down to his body language. That’s not to say the rest of the cast were poor, substandard, or even less than notable. Every cast member embodied their characters, but none so completely or impressively as Bernthal. I give it 6 out of 6.
The production is effective and spot on. The editing is tight, the cinematography controls the eye of the viewer, and the sets are all utterly convincing. I give it 6 out of 6.
The emotional response was shockingly strong. The Punisher is not just my least favorite character sent to Netflix, he’s my least favorite Marvel comics headline character ever. I like my heroes to take the high road, and not to stoop to the levels of these villains. To me, the Punisher is not a hero, he’s a villain who happens to exclusively target other villains. I watched the first episode more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. Imagine my surprise when it ended up becoming my favorite Marvel Netflix series to date. I have been completely won over by Bernthal, Lightfoot, and the rest of the team that put this together. I give it 6 out of 6.
Overall, this was the Netflix series that had the toughest job winning me over, and it had me by the end of episode 2, hook, line, and sinker. I give it 6 out of 6.
In total, The Punisher receives 41 out of 42.