Netflix's Punisher: 5 Things They Changed (And 5 They Kept The Same)

Jon Bernthal in Marvel's The Punisher Netflix

Now that Netflix has released the second, and likely last season of The Punisher, we can dive into the series as a whole and dissect some of the choices the folks over at Netflix made for the series. There are plenty of additions to the tragic tale of Frank Castle and his family, but there are also many things that have stayed the same. So let’s take a look at some of the things that were taken straight from the comics, as well as some things that were created just for the Netflix series. Before we do, however, it should be stated that there will be spoilers for both seasons of the series.

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10 The Battle Van - Stayed The Same

One of the things that manages to take place in both the comics and the Netflix series is the Punisher's trademark battle van. While Micro is typically the one tricking out these armored death machines, Frank is generally the one breaking them in. Or just flat-out breaking them. The battle vans are so synonymous with Frank Castle’s character that they’re practically his sidekick. While we only briefly see Frank behind the wheel of the van in season one, we get a much better look during the opening episode of season two. Frank might not be looking for a battle when we see him for the first time in season two, but the van certainly comes in handy when the battle finds him.

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9 Relationship With Karen Page - Changed

Frank’s powerful bond with everyone’s favorite Hell’s Kitchen-based reporter Karen Page is one of many things that the creators of the show added without any precedent in the comics. In the comics, Karen Page mostly interacts with Matt Murdock and others associated with him and his alter ego. We haven’t seen much in the way of a relationship like the one in Netflix’s universe. Not that we’d complain, Karen’s altruistic nature frequently helps to center the often violent and hard-headed manner Frank tends to favor. Karen may not agree with everything that Frank gets up to, but she’s most certainly going to be there whenever he hits bottom and has no to turn to. It’s a nice twist on her character in the comics that adds quite a bit to both the series and their characters.

8 A Veteran - Stayed The Same

Separating Frank Castle from his service in the armed forces seems like a complete betrayal of the character and of the armed forces that helped make him what he his today. Castle is infamous as one of the most deadly killers to ever leave the Marine Corps, which makes it hard to imagine why anyone would send people after him or his family. The Netflix series did make some minor changes to his veteran status as he is a veteran of the conflicts in Afganistan and Iraq rather than a Vietnam vet like he is in the comics. It's a reasonable change as he’d likely be somewhere in his '60s had he served during Vietnam.

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7 Billy Russo - Changed

Billy Russo is arguably one of the aspects of the comics that has changed the most in the television transplant. The first and most obvious example is Billy Russo’s backstory, his connection to Frank and the Castle family, and the villain he eventually becomes.

In the comics, Billy is still a hitman, essentially. The real difference comes in the fact that he’s working alongside the Costa crime family rather than working for the American government as a Marine. Before being sent to kill the Punisher, however, Billy (in the comics) has had no run-ins with Frank Castle or his family. Netflix deciding to have Billy’s story be much more intertwined with Frank’s was certainly a welcomed change.

6 Castiglione Surname - Stayed The Same

Frank Castle at a diner in Queens in The Punisher Episode 2

Throughout a decent portion of the Netflix series, Frank Castle can be found referring to himself as Pete Castiglione. He even eventually adopts that name at the end of the first season when he, along with agent Madani, allow the man formally known as Frank Castle to die. But where did that name come from? Well, fans of the comics may recognize Castiglione as the surname of Frank’s immigrant family from Sicily before it was Americanized and concerted to just plain old "Castle." While it’s never mentioned in the series whether the surname was inherited from older family members, Frank does get to take the Castiglione name and put it to some use.

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5 The Reason His Family Dies - Changed

Billy Russo Jigsaw Wounds The Punisher

While in the Netflix series, the conspiracy surrounding the murders of Frank Castle’s wife and children is all too real, in the comics, he and his family are simply caught in the cross-fire like Frank is meant to believe in the series. However, in the Netflix version of Frank’s family history, there are much more sinister forces at work when it comes to taking out the Castle family. Frank may have been a decorated Marine and a war hero, but there are some people you just don't want to cross. Especially when they happen to be running a drug ring out of the Middle East on the American people’s dime. Frank may have been a war hero, but he certainly wasn’t fighting the right enemy. And by the time he started, it was already much too late.

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4 How His Family Dies - Stayed The Same

Punisher teaser - Frank Castles family

It’s the same old story told time and time again. Guy meets a beautiful woman, falls deeply and hopelessly in love, marriage, children, war, inner turmoil, and heart-wrenching conflict, then death. While the conspiracy surrounding the deaths of Frank’s family did receive a few tweaks when it came to transplanting the events to television, what didn’t change was the brutal and violent way in which Frank’s family is torn apart, bullet by bullet, as Frank watches helplessly, desperately trying to hold on for just a second longer. Poor guy. All he wanted was a pleasant picnic at the park with his family. If the perpetrators knew what they were about to unleash on themselves they probably would’ve packed the picnic themselves.

3 Curtis Hoyle - Changed

It seems like it’s the people closest to Frank that are the ones experiencing the most change while making the move to Netflix. Frank’s other friend from his time in the armed services, Curtis Hoyle, is no exception.

In the series, Curtis is a naval medic that spent a lot of time with Frank and his team overseas. While Frank and his guys were tearing everyone else apart, Curtis spent his time trying to heal whoever he could. It makes sense that he’d come back and do his best to help put other vets back together through group counseling. In the comics, however, Curtis is the enemy that tries to kill Frank. And much like everyone else that has tried to kill Frank, it doesn’t work out well for Curtis.

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2 Frank’s Still A BAMF - Stayed The Same

Punisher on Netflix and in Marvel Comics

If you really break him down to his core traits, his key experiences, Frank is three things. He’s a military vet; he’s a man that’s had his family violently stolen from him before his very eyes; and he’s an absolute, stone-cold, bad*ss. One thing that is likely to never change about the Punisher is the simple fact that he is going to be the toughest dude in just about any room. He has no powers, no real back up to speak of, and no issues taking a life like his superhero counterparts. He’s just a simple guy with a whole arsenal of an army or two.

1 Original Characters - Changed

The biggest changes to the series have to be all the new characters that have been added throughout the first and second season. While characters like Billy Russo and Curtis Hoyle have been changed quite a bit from their comic book counterparts, other characters, like agent Madani and Dr. Krista Dumont, have been created specifically for the series. Meanwhile, characters like one of the second season’s antagonists John Pilgrim is partially based off of the Mennonite from the comics. A simple man who preferred to use his fists and a simple hammer to take out the Punisher.

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