The solo Punisher series is to rumors and speculation what protagonist Frank Castle's enemies are to bullets: riddled with them.
The new show is finally hitting Netflix streaming on November 17, and it's taken a weird path to get there. Jon Bernthal's version of Frank Castle, who debuted in the second season of Daredevil, was easily the best live-action version to date. Obviously, fans wanted more of him, but Marvel denied the solo project was even in the works. We had no idea when we would get more time with the ultraviolent antihero.
During the wait, we've soaked up all the rumors and hard news we can, which has been plentiful. Even the release date came through several "reliable sources" before we finally got the official one. Remember when we were so sure that it was coming out on Friday the 13th? So much has changed since then.
Many of the early rumblings have proven to be actual things that will be in the show, and some, we hope, are nothing but the scribbled ramblings of straw-grasping maniacs.
Here are the 0 The Punisher Rumors Confirmed To Be True (And 5 We Hope Aren't).
15 Confirmed: It's an origin story with scenes in modern day
We’re not sure we like this one, but it’s happening. Origin stories can be useful to introduce unfamiliar viewers/readers or establish a new version of an established character.
However, they can also be incredibly tedious for people who are already in the know and just want to see their favorite vigilantes go do their things.
The Punisher will show the event that sends Frank Castle down his bloody path: the death of his wife and son. Daredevil’s Karen Page already uncovered this information on that show, and we were fine just going straight to the punishment.
Luckily, it won’t all be a potentially boring recap of stuff we already know. The series will pull an Arrow and also show the established, skull-wearing Punisher running around in the present. We don’t know what the mix will be, but hopefully the retread will be minimal.
14 Confirmed: Billy Russo is one of the villains
Fans know Billy Russo by another name that he takes on later in his criminal career: Jigsaw. However, unlike the same-named horror movie villain, Russo is not so called because he cuts puzzle pieces from his victims after they fail to escape death traps — although he might, if he thought of it.
No, Russo is called “Jigsaw” because Frank Castle hurled him through a window, and surgeons had to try to put his face back together like a puzzle. And the pieces did not end up fitting together well.
Unlike the comic book character, the show’s Russo will not be a mob assassin but the head of a private military company called Anvil. He and Frank served in the Special Forces together and were friends, but odds are that will change -- especially considering we know what happens to this guy.
13 Hope not: Russo will become Jigsaw
We probably won’t mind seeing bad things happen to Billy Russo by the end of The Punisher, and we’d definitely be alright with seeing Jigsaw later on, but we’re also willing to wait.
However, the Marvel Netflix series have a bad habit of tacking on “But wait!” cliffhanger endings to pivot into later series. We don’t really blame them, but it’s becoming predictable, and we can see The Punisher falling into this trap.
To be clear, we fully expect Frank Castle to throw Billy Russo out of a window at some point. And if he wants to come back in the second season all Jigsaw’d up, that would be fine.
For this season, though, we’d rather leave his fate unknown than get yet another cheap stinger where we find out he’s not dead after all. Fans already know he’s not dead, and we can just let everyone else be surprised.
12 Confirmed: Turk Barrett will return
In the comics, Turk Barrett is a small-time crook who’s such a low-level player that Daredevil often doesn’t even bother sending him to jail.
He appears throughout the Marvel Netflix series, often immediately before Daredevil shows up and punches him in the head. He engages in a variety of criminal enterprises, working for various bosses before striking out on his own as a weapons dealer selling “protection” against Frank Castle.
The last time we saw Turk, Luke Cage was threatening some information out of him in The Defenders. At this point, he’s basically just become the guy who knows the way to the next plot point, and that’s probably the role he’ll play in The Punisher, since Frank will have plenty of people he’d like to find.
We’re less sure Castle will let Turk walk away afterwards, however.
11 Confirmed: The Battle Van will appear
We’re pretty excited about this one because we’ve been waiting through three incarnations of the Punisher to see his deathmobile in live-action, and all we’ve gotten so far are a motorcycle and a muscle car.
Frank Castle’s Battle Van is an unassuming black van that contains enough guns, ammo, and secret death machines to take out an army. It’s a rolling arsenal, and in the comics it boasts a minigun, a grenade launcher, high-tech surveillance equipment, and even a robotic arm for killing guys in those hard-to-reach places.
The one thing it doesn’t have is a sweet paint job with flames and maybe a wizard fighting a dragon in Valhalla. But it isn’t really that kind of van, and we assume that the Punisher likes to keep a low profile before he starts spraying literally thousands of bullets everywhere.
10 Hope not: No Kingpin
The odds of Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk returning to torment Frank Castle once more are virtually nonexistent, but it never hurts to hope.
Castle will have his hands full (of guns) tracking down the people responsible for killing his family, so adding another villain with wholly different motives might muddy things a bit, and the Marvel Netflix shows have been bad enough at pacing as it is.
However, we really enjoyed how the two played off of each other when they met in prison, and we’d like to see more of it. They definitely have some things to settle.
While he won’t be around for this show, Fisk will return in Daredevil’s third season. We’re looking forward to that, even if he won’t be trying to kill Frank again.
9 Confirmed: Punisher 'won't be a hero'
This should be obvious, considering his penchant for putting new holes in people, but it bears mentioning: Frank Castle is not a hero. He’s a violent maniac who makes Wolverine look like a pacifist.
Previous versions of the Punisher have ultimately aimed to make the character sympathetic. They’ve always been more action heroes than tortured, tragic figures who become monsters to fight them.
Jon Bernthal has worked to remain true to what he calls "the essence of Frank" and “have the right and be bold enough to really turn my back on the audience.”
We assume this means that Castle will cross some lines that make it hard to side with his methods, even if we do ultimately agree with his motives.
It could be tough to pull off, especially if it risks alienating viewers. However, the comic book Punisher is often terrible, and most of the superhero community hates him, and that’s worked out just fine for him so far.
8 Confirmed: It will be almost completely separate from The Defenders
Other than including some of the same characters, The Punisher will do its own thing, independently of the shows that preceded it. That’s pretty fitting for how Frank Castle operates, anyway. So it makes sense.
This split is a good idea for a couple reasons. First, we’re just fine with a self-contained story free of the baggage that’s occasionally bogged down the other series, including all the groundwork they had to do to set up the inevitable crossover.
We’re alright letting Frank run around on his own without wondering how he’ll get along with Jessica Jones.
The second reason is that the larger Defenders universe has gotten increasingly mystical and ridiculous, and we don’t think the Punisher fits in well there. He doesn’t have any powers, and he runs on hatred and bloodlust. We don’t need him to fight magical ninjas.
7 Hope not: Defenders cameos
Just saying that The Punisher stands apart from the rest of the Marvel Netflix universe doesn’t mean that its creators won’t try to foist Iron Fist’s Danny Rand on us again and try to convince us that he’s a cool character. Stop trying, creators. It will never work.
We really hope not to see any of the Defenders on this show. From what we’ve seen, The Punisher will have its own aesthetic and a more brutal sensibility than any of its predecessors. That’s really something against the first season of Daredevil’s terrifying blood fetish.
Frank has his own business here, and we think it’s best that he goes it alone. It’s going to be more brutal and visceral than any of the other shows, and introducing a single superpowered character, even in a cameo, might unravel that a bit.
6 Confirmed: No Claire Temple
Even more so than Turk Barrett, Claire Temple is the Defenders’ version of Agent Coulson in the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
She met and interacted with all of the team members, offered them guidance, and was occasionally the only thing they had in common before they finally came together as a team.
We’ll miss her in The Punisher, but it doesn’t make much sense for her to be there. Frank strikes us as the sort of guy who removes his own bullets, and none of the guys he shoots will have any need of a nurse. He’s also largely immune to the sort of moral guidance Claire has served the other protagonists.
It would be too bad to just force Claire into the show for tradition’s sake, and it’s alright to leave her out if she has nothing to do.
5 Confirmed: Karen Page is back
It wasn’t always the case, but Daredevil’s executive-assistant-turned-investigative-reporter Karen Page will be back. This makes sense, since the two of them hit it off the first time they met, and Karen already knows a bit of Frank’s past.
We don’t know exactly how much of the show will feature Karen; this could be a cameo or a major role. But we’re sure we’ll enjoy seeing the two of them interact again.
Karen is one of the few people Frank actually trusts, and she’s probably the only one he actually likes. The guy hates everybody, so that’s quite the accomplishment.
Karen will probably be the “Designated Claire” on The Punisher, serving to ground Frank — insofar as that is possible, anyway — and offering him the kind of support that does not involve laying down suppressing fire.
Hopefully, it stops there.
4 Hope not: Karen/Frank romance
As happy as we are to see Karen and Frank back together again, we’ll be a little disappointed if they end up, you know. "Together."
The Punisher has never been a character in need of a love interest. He had one once, and she died tragically. Then her husband killed everyone. Frank is an emotionally broken character whose ability to love died with his family. He replaced it with an endless hatred of criminals and a covert death van filled with weapons.
And we don’t even think Karen would benefit from this pairing, either. We know she cares for Frank and they have a connection, but she can’t heal him with the restorative power of affection.
Frank doesn’t want anyone to fix him, anyway. We understand the temptation to evolve the relationship, but we just don’t think it will work.
3 Confirmed: It won't just take place in New York
Other than some excursions in Iron Fist, the vast majority of the Marvel Netflix universe has taken place in different areas of New York. That’s because these are the “ground-level” heroes who look after their own neighborhoods and don’t get to run off to fight monsters in space.
The Punisher will break with tradition by sending Frank to other locations. He’ll probably visit them during his Special Forces days, which surely took him to redacted locations all over the world.
Thanks to the Morse code messages on the show’s official Twitter account, we know the names of all of the episodes. The third will be called “Kandahar,” which suggests a setting in Afghanistan.
We wouldn’t mind seeing Frank go on tour once he becomes The Punisher, though. He has no shortage of criminals to gun down in New York, but a different setting would be a nice change.
2 Confirmed: Another Marvel hero may appear
This is the most maddening rumor of them all, other than all those inaccurate release dates.
It comes from an offhand comment by C.B. Cebulski, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Creator and Content Development, at Asia Pop Comic-Con.
He said, “another Marvel hero may be showing up” in The Punisher, a statement so nebulous and open to interpretation that we wonder why he said anything at all, other than giving the internet something to talk about.
Assuming it even happens (see the “may”), this would cover any of the Defenders, and we’ve already mentioned why that wouldn’t be a great idea. If it is a character who hasn’t appeared yet, that includes the entire Marvel catalog minus the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and anyone who has already appeared in the MCU.
Internet sleuths have reason to believe that it will be Moon Knight, who’s slated to join the Defenders in the comics.
1 Hope not: Moon Knight
So, about Moon Knight. Marc Spector is a former U.S. Marine and gun for hire whom an evil mercenary left to die in the desert. He survives because he agrees to become the Egyptian moon god Khonshu’s human agent.
Spector has multiple personalities and in one run of the comics, they take the forms of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America and give him widely conflicting advice.
If Spector appears at all, we assume he won’t show up in full, silver costume. Odds are much better that we’ll just see Marc Spector around somewhere as an Easter egg, either during Frank’s military days or in a psych office where Castle goes for PTSD treatment.
That would be alright except that it would make all the speculation around that “other Marvel hero” rumor seem even more pointless.
What are you looking forward to seeing in The Punisher? What are you hoping they leave out? Let us know in the comments!
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