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Growing up, for whatever reason, I was never a fan of Superman. I don’t know why, but I was always drawn to comic book characters who were a little darker and a little more human. Characters like Batman and Daredevil were the guys I wanted to spend my time with it. But out of all the characters in the Marvel or DC universes, the one I loved the most was the Punisher.
Why my parents would let an 8 year old me read a comic book about a murderous former Marine is beyond me, but I loved it. His tragic tale drew me in. A good man…a war hero who had everything taken from him by senseless violence just captured my attention even at an early age. And the older I got, the more I related to and understood the pain and drive of Frank Castle.
So, last year when Netflix announced that the Punisher was going to be their next Marvel series, I was thrilled and worried. Its a tough task to write and produce a show about a homicidal maniac and somehow manage to make him sympathetic and the good guy. Its that duality that makes Frank Castle so beloved. Its also that duality that has made every other movie fail…nobody has ever been able to properly tell his story on the screen.
But, much to my surprise, Netflix was able to not only bring Frank to life in the proper light, but tell his story in a way that truly made him look like the hero he is. The show is a bit slow and plotting. It spends a bit too much time trying to make Frank human. But, the story is super compelling and at the end, they delivered the Punisher in a way that was long overdue.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone that has yet to watch the series, so I’m purposely trying to be vague. They’ve made some updates to Frank’s tale of woe. They’ve added some details to his back story to make the character more sympathetic. But, at the end of the day, Frank Castle feels like the Punisher. You feel his pain. You feel his angst. You understand why he does the things he does.
It took decades for film makers to properly figure out how to tell Bruce Wayne’s story. But once they did, non-comic book fans fell in love with Batman. I think that the folks over at Netflix finally have been able to deliver a tale that will do the same for Frank Castle. The show is far from perfect, but they did an amazing job creating a world where comic book fans and average people alike can enjoy the journey of the Punisher.
Its not fun. It’s not a happy story. But its one you can help but watch. And its certainly a journey you won’t feel bad about taking.