By Maddie Baker
Continuing Marvel’s streak of hit shows, “The Punisher” dropped on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 17. This original series delves into the importance of family and exposes ethics as being not as simple as black and white. The show portrays harsh realities like PTSD and the consequences of war and extreme loss. It makes people stop and consider the state of this world while also bringing in fantastical elements that delve into heroism and family in a tasteful and eye-catching way.
The series takes place after the events of “Daredevil” and “The Defenders.” In “Daredevil” season 2, Marvel introduced fans to Frank Castle, also known as The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal. Castle doesn’t have special powers or abilities like some of the other Marvel heroes, but he is a former marine who is out to punish the people responsible for killing his family. “The Punisher” was highly anticipated because he is a morally gray character that doesn’t align perfectly with the typical hero mentality since he is willing to kill and isn’t necessarily concerned with the public’s opinion of him.
“The Punisher” has a much harsher tone than the rest of Netflix’s original Marvel series, which is fitting considering the distant and brutal attitude of the main character. Castle is brutally honest while having his own code of honor and brand of justice. Therefore, the dark cinematography and truthful writing does an excellent job of reflecting the gritty mood of the show. It is done artfully, but audiences can still relate since the directors and the writers kept the show down to earth.
Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who also appeared in “Daredevil,” is a reporter who has defended Castle since his character was first introduced as Daredevil chased him down for murdering gang members in Hell’s Kitchen. The announcement of her involvement in “The Punisher” was incredibly hyped up, so it was slightly disappointing how little she was seen throughout the episodes. However, the interactions between the two characters when their chemistry is put on display is thrilling to watch.
Viewers also meet David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) or “Micro,” who is Frank’s reluctant partner-in-crime. He balances Castle out in several ways, but that does cause irritating arguments between the two allies. Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) is a detective seeking to prove that corrupt military operatives murdered her partner while stationed in Afghanistan. Madani provides a strong, three-dimensional female character for viewers to root for even when she is in direct conflict with Castle. Ben Barnes plays Billy Russo, a fellow marine from Frank’s covert operation unit. He is a character that shocks people more and more as the episodes progress. The characters are diverse in experience and background, and all the actors portray their characters realistically.
It is important to mention that this show does contain gratuitously graphic and violent scenes with explicit language and some sexual content; sometimes the graphic scenes are over the top and take the focus away from the significance of a scene. Also the plot and necessary background information get lost amid the explosions and blood, which diminishes the suspense action sequences. It also has generally less comic relief than the previous series of ‘Marvel’ Netflix original shows. Even though the show may not be for everyone, it definitely is on the same playing field as all of Marvel’s previous works in the sense that perfect blend of action and suspense.