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To describe the Punisher as “divisive” would be an understatement. The character is straightforwardly, brutally violent, and has a long history of blurring the line between vigilante hero and gun-toting mass murderer. Marvel‘s new Netflix original series inspired wildly different interpretations from fans and critics, with some saying it glorified violence while others criticized it for not being violent enough.
Then, there’s the political subtext. The Punisher’s role is inextricably linked with the U.S. military, and his logo is worn for various reasons by military veterans, police officers, and members of the alt-right movement. Some fans saw the Netflix series as a thoughtful portrayal of PTSD, but the character is also associated with police brutality and toxic masculinity.
Basically, the Punisher contains multitudes, and the one thing everyone can agree on is that Jon Bernthal gave a great performance in the role. He’s also had to answer some awkward questions about the character’s politics, as proven by a recent interview with Esquire. Asked about the Punisher’s popularity in the armed services, Bernthal said he felt “honored to play a guy who people putting their life on the line identify with.”
While certain fans interpret the Punisher as a far-right hero, Bernthal definitely doesn’t agree.
H/T AV Club
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.