The Punisher has been a comic icon for quite some time. With his anti-hero persona and tragic background, Frank Castle has remained just under the surface of mainstream audiences’ attention. Now that The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal taking on the role of The Punisher in season 2 of Daredevil, the mainstream audience may finally get to meet The Punisher like never before.
Even though there have been several attempts at a Punisher movie, none have captured this multifaceted character completely, and now it’s Marvel Studio’s turn to take a crack at this hardened character. So, with the newest and perhaps best incarnation of The Punisher coming up, you’ll need catch up on his story!
Here is Screen Rant’s 10 Facts You Need To Know About The Punisher!
In his first appearance, Frank Castle was introduced as a villain in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #129 in 1974. Frank was hunting Spider-Man after being hired by The Jackal who framed Spider-Man for the death of Norman Osborn. But Castle soon saw through his old friend’s scheme to have the web-slinger killed. After he realized he was being fooled, The Punisher sided with Spidey and fought against The Jackal.
In this comic, we saw the transformation of vicious, villainous Frank Castle into the anti-hero that we have come to know and love. It was the creator’s, Greg Conway, intention to make Frank into a villain, but once he fleshed him out in the pages of #129, The Punisher became an anti-hero.
There are several crucial aspects of Frank Castle’s past that directly lead to him becoming The Punisher. Few are as important as the death of his children and wife at the hands of the Costa mob family.
During Punisher: Year One, we see into the psyche of The Punisher like never before. Frank’s instability and reaction to the death of his family is not only tragic but telling. It’s in these pages that we see the birth of the persona of The Punisher. Frank is suicidal at first, while trying to resolve the crime through lawful avenues. However, the Costa family is well-connected and they cannot easily be pursued in court. Once the establishment that he fought so hard to protect in Vietnam fails him, Frank takes justice, vengeance, and punishment into his own hands.
For a man who served in the military and sacrificed so much for his country, it may seem odd that he became a murderous vigilante. Despite his skills and background in the military, Frank was always a family man first. However, once they were taken away from him, he could not cope with the loss and failure of the system.
Once coming up with the idea of “The Punisher,” Frank promised to always fight against crime and injustice. What set him apart from other heroes and even villains was not just his penchant for murder, but how personal he took each encounter. This is because when his family died, Frank could not forgive those who had harmed him so badly. This inability to forgive and motivation to hand out justice on his own terms is what directly led to his crusade to punish.
He cannot forgive any criminals for the aggressions they commit against the innocent and therefore treats all crimes and encounters like the first he had with the Costa family.
One of the most interesting and useful aspects of Frank’s character is his status as a Vietnam veteran. The time he spent in the war was at an indispensable time in his life. There he learned and honed his skills and killer instincts. Frank learned combat tactics, vehicle operation, and firearm training.
Most importantly, Frank was scarred by his time in Vietnam, just like many men who served in the actual war. Even though he thrived at killing and was highly skilled thanks to his training with Navy SEALs, Airborne School, and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment, Frank was conflicted about killing.
However, his time spent training and killing directly led to his ability to take up the mantle of The Punisher once his family was murdered. It was thanks to his time in Vietnam that he was able to lead a one man war against multiple supervillains, heroes, and mob families.
Mack Bolan is a famous character, created by Don Pendleton, who has appeared in hundreds of books. These books are all about Mack Bolan’s war against the mafia and his adventures during his crusade against crime. Bolan is a Vietnam veteran who is known for his deadly capabilities but merciful tendencies. Being one of the most deadly snipers in the war, Bolan earned the nickname The Executioner. He also lost his family due to the indirect practices of mafiosos, and therefore dedicated his life to annihilating them.
The parallels between Frank Castle and Mack Bolan are obvious, and almost completely lifted from the pages of his serialized novels. For instance, Frank is a Vietnam veteran known for his expertise as a soldier in almost all of his incarnations. He also had his family killed thanks to the practices of mafiosos. Frank earned his moniker from his ability to kill, but he got it during his war on the mafia rather than his time in the Vietnam War.
As we’ve discussed, Frank Castle does not hesitate to murder those he deems worthy of his punishment. The Punisher’s use of murder and other illegal tactics in his pursuit of justice is what makes him an anti-hero.
More so than most other anti heroes, Frank has a well established history of going against the law to accomplish his goals. In his first outing as The Punisher, he goes against the courts and takes justice into his own hands. Frank believes, for better or for worse, that the only way to keep a criminal from repeating a crime is by ending their life.
There are plenty of heroes and villains that have massive arsenals. A few notable ones are Batman, Green Goblin, and Iron Man. However, Punisher’s assembly of guns is unmatched. Even those who are often seen with guns, like Deadpool, Deadshot, Cable, Jason Todd, or Grifter, do not come close to owning a comparable amount of firepower. In every iteration of The Punisher, Frank has always had hundreds of weapons. He has guns, knives, and tactical gear for just about every situation and has employed each type of weapon at least once.
In a behind-the-scenes picture posted to Instagram by Jon Bernthal himself, he stands in front of an arsenal of machine guns and rifles mounted on a wall, just like in the Punisher MAX comics. In the comics, Frank is said to specifically love his M60 machine gun that he used in Vietnam, a modified M16A1 with a mounted M203 grenade launcher, and a Gerber Mk2 knife.
If one thing has become synonymous with The Punisher, it is the white skull that always appears on his chest. The skull has been on his chest since his original incarnation and has become a symbol for the punishment that Frank deals out to those who cross paths with him.
The original Punisher from the Marvel comics chose the skull while in Vietnam. While hunting an enemy sniper named “The Monkey,” who rivaled Frank’s skills, he was taken prisoner. After escaping, he decided to leave a message for The Monkey by painting the infamous skull on a prisoner’s chest as well as his own. After he defeated The Monkey and returned home, this symbol was again used to let Frank’s enemies know not just their own fate, but who would deliver the killing blow.
In Punisher MAX, the image of a white skull painted on a wall comes to him in a dream. The skull haunts him and reminds Frank of his ongoing internal war that forever rages on. With the tactical mind, especially of the MAX version of Frank, he also uses the spray-painted skull on his chest as a distraction so that criminals will aim for that instead of his head.
Like every other comic character out there, Frank Castle has met his demise in the pages of his comics. Also, like most other comic characters, he too was brought back to life. Unlike most others, Frank was brought back in three very different ways when he died.
The most disliked way that The Punisher was brought back was when he became "Angel Punisher." After committing suicide, Frank was chosen to do Heaven’s bidding as an angel. Eventually he grows tired of this type of reckoning and tells the other angels to screw off.
The next time The Punisher died was during the acclaimed Dark Reign storyline, in which Daken, Wolverine’s son, dismembers Frank. Of course, this wasn’t the last of Frank, as Morbius and Man-Thing reconstruct and revive him to form the renowned Franken-Castle. In this arc, he worked alongside other monsters and was portrayed as a hulking monster with huge weapons.
At the end of the Franken-Castle arc, he was truly healed and brought back to the world of the living as he once was.
As an anti-hero, one can expect The Punisher to not always align himself with other heroes or even villains, but Frank Castle usually takes it a step further than that. In continuity and outside of continuity, The Punisher has made some powerful enemies with some of Marvel’s greatest heroes. There are certain heroes he admires like Captain America, but for the most part he rubs other heroes the wrong way. Most heroes dislike him for his murderous ways and disregard for law, but on top of that, Frank is often seen threatening others.
One of the most famous versions of The Punisher pits Frank up against the entire Marvel Universe in the aptly titled, Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe. In this story, he meticulously kills each hero and villain, beginning with Cyclops. In this version, Frank’s family is killed when they are caught in the middle of a confrontation between the X-Men and Avengers. With nothing but rage and hatred for those he feels are responsible for his family’s death, he begins killing everyone on both sides of the law. He ends his crusade when he finally kills his best friend Matt Murdock, Daredevil.
Hopefully now you know more about this iconic anti-hero and are more prepared for Daredevil season 2. Jon Bernthal’s take on Frank Castle’s Punisher is sure to be great, and Marvel is smart enough to incorporate the best parts of his history into their new stories. Thanks for reading and be sure to let us know what you think everyone should know about The Punisher!