marvel on netflix : the punisher

Screengrab via Netflix

Netflix’s ‘The Punisher’ is a bloody crime drama

Frank Castle is ‘haunted and hunted.’


Dan Marcus


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Jon Bernthal was introduced as hardened Marine turned vigilante Frank Castle in the second season of Daredevil. He quickly became a fan favorite of the show, and Bernthal’s performance scored raves. Starting later this year, Bernthal looks to bring his popular anti-hero to Netflix in his own show.

Screengrab via Netflix

The Punisher trailer

Netflix released a new trailer for The Punisher on Oct. 19, revealing the show’s release date. The trailer delves into Frank Castle’s backstory in the military, suggesting that he felt conflicted about following orders. We see surprisingly little of Ben Barnes as Castle’s friend Billy Russo (supposedly one of the main characters), but we do see plenty of the NSA analyst Micro and Karen Page from Daredevil.

Marvel‘s first Punisher teaser arrived at the end of Defenders, showing the return of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle.

You don’t need to worry about Defenders spoilers here because it’s a pretty simple trailer: Just Frank Castle smashing up a concrete floor, John Wick-style, while we see some flashbacks from his traumatic past.

This may be the most violent Marvel/Netflix show so far, emphasizing Frank Castle’s brutality instead of trying to make him seem heroic.

Two clips have also appeared on the Punisher Instagram account, showing CCTV footage of a SWAT team raid, and a creepy interior view of Frank Castle’s family home. Is someone performing surveillance on the Punisher?

The first trailer, released Sept. 20, gives us a classic revenge thriller set-up: a tough, troubled antihero whose wife was murdered before his eyes. With the exception of the Punisher’s costume and a brief appearance from Daredevil‘s Karen Page, it’s virtually unrecognizable as part of the Marvel franchise. It’s pure, brutal action with a pumped-up soundtrack courtesy of Metallica, and while it won’t be for everyone, it certainly looks more exciting than the Defenders.

The Punisher cast

Bernthal will reprise his role after appearing in Daredevil‘s second season, rejoined by Deborah Ann Woll as journalist Karen Page. Ben Barnes from Westworld fame will play Billy Russo. Ebon Moss-Bachrach also joins the cast as Micro, or David Linus “Microchip” Lieberman.


The supporting cast includes Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, Daniel Webber as Lewis Walcott, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, and Paul Schulze as Rawlins. Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Expanse) has also joined the cast as Farah Madani, a homeland security agent and the mother of Dinah Madani.

Karen Page in ‘Daredevil’


The Punisher plot

A rather brief synopsis appears on the Netflix description for the show. It’s admittedly sparse.“After the murder of his family, Frank Castle is both haunted and hunted. In the criminal underworld, he’ll become known as The Punisher.”

The second season of Daredevil saw Frank Castle’s transformation into The Punisher. The first season of the show will likely explore Castle delving deeper into the anti-hero role. Karen Page prodded Castle’s conscience in Daredevil, so one would assume she will help balance Castle’s vigilante tendencies with his better bedside manner.

Photo via Punisher/Marvel

Castle’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may also be bigger than originally thought.

At last year’s Comic-Con, Netflix executive Ted Saranados hinted we may not have to wait until The Punisher to get another glimpse at Frank Castle. When asked if Jon Bernthal would make an appearance in The Defenders, Sarandos said, “Stay tuned.” If Castle does make an appearance, it will likely just be a cameo and thus not affect his character that significantly in The Punisher.

The Punisher in ‘Daredevil’ season 2



The first promo photo for Netflix’s ‘The Punisher’ Photo via Marvel's The Punisher/Netflix

The Punisher spoilers

In the comics, Billy Russo—to be played by Ben Barnes in The Punisher—becomes the villain Jigsaw. His origin is closely tied to The Punisher’s. As a result of Russo trying to eliminate everyone with connections to Castle including his family, Castle kills all of Russo’s associates. Castle leaves Russo alive to send a message, not before knocking him through a glass pane, which gives Russo his trademark scars and the moniker “Jigsaw.”

It is unclear if Russo will be tied to Castle’s origins in The Punisher, but his inclusion in the first season seems to indicate as much. Given how these Netflix Marvel shows tend to stretch out the origins of their heroes and villains, it is also likely Russo won’t become Jigsaw until the very end of the first season.

Another familiar mainstay from The Punisher comics is Micro, to be played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach. Micro has been a clandestine assistant to Castle in the comics, supplying him with high-tech gadgetry and providing computer-hacking skills. One would assume he will play a similar role in the series. Basically, think of Micro as The Punisher’s Q.

Screengrab via Netflix US

The Punisher release date

According to Comic Book, Netflix was preparing for a surprise release in early October, which would explain all of the preview footage with blacked-out release date info. But after the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, Netflix and Marvel scrapped its New York Comic Con panel and have reportedly pushed back the series’ release.

The official release date for The Punisher is Nov. 17.

The Punisher review

The Punisher is Marvel’s least superheroic Netflix show to date. Following the character’s debut in Daredevil, it’s a gritty and rather slow-moving crime drama that tries (and mostly fails) to make the Punisher seem sympathetic. It’s better than Iron Fist, but mostly a disappointing waste of Jon Bernthal’s great performance.

Photo via Marvel's The Punisher/Netflix

Editor’s Note: This story is updated frequently for relevance. 

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