Since 2004, Thomas Jane was Frank Castle to me. He was the first actor since Dolph Lundgren to portray the deadly vigilante on screen and while his film had its flaws, I enjoyed his performance. I had no interest in the sequel featuring Ray Winstone as Castle and have wanted to see Jane back on the big screen as this character. I even shared the short film Dirty Laundry on the internet, a Punisher short that features Jane as Frank Castle, in what he called a “thank you” to his fan base. I remained on the “Jane Train” for quite a while... until Netflix released Daredevil season two, and I was introduced to Jon Bernthal’s representation of The Punisher. In that one season, my mind was altered and while I still enjoyed Thomas Jane as Frank, having read more Punisher comics and seeing Bernthal on screen, I was convinced that Bernthal nailed the character.
Then, Frank Castle was granted his own series... and the series is superb.
Taking a week to binge the series, Marvel’s The Punisher picks up where Frank’s story ended in Daredevil, with Castle hunting down those involved in his family’s murders. However, this series delves deeper not only into who was pulling the strings in the deaths of Castle’s wife and children, but also in the actions taken by a covert mission in Frank’s past and the lasting effects it has created. The series also focuses on the sacrifice soldiers make in war and how coming home isn’t as easy as it may seem. Inner demons, PTSD, honor and a misplaced sense of loyalty are topics brought up in this series. Blended in with Castle’s arch is the saddening, angering and tragic story of the character of Lewis Walcott. Lewis represents the mentally-tortured soldier who is haunted by the ghosts of war and plagued by extremist ideology.
Lewis represents what happens when we as a society do not care for our veterans. He is the example of allowing them to either suffer in their own pain or be influenced by those who only think politically and not morally.
And then, there’s Jon Bernthal. Bernthal took what he gave us in Daredevil and perfected it. Performing as the physically-violent and emotionally-pained Castle, Bernthal’s face alone shows the pain and anger that resides in this character. He gives the performance of a lifetime, surpassing his work on The Walking Dead and The Wolf Of Wall Street. With every near mental breakdown, rage-filled yell and extreme but tactical attack, Bernthal makes you believe he is not acting; that he is actually Frank Castle, waging his own personal war on all those connected to the assassinations of his family.
To put it quite simply, Jon Bernthal was born to play this role. He is Frank Castle. He is The Punisher.
Surrounded by an incredible supporting cast, including Amber Rose Revah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Jaime Ray Newman, Paul Schulze, Daniel Webber, Daredevil’s Deborah Ann Woll and screen veterans C. Thomas Howell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (yes, Maid Marian from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves), Marvel’s The Punisher excels. Created by Steve Lightfoot, the writing is superb, blending extreme vigilante violence with a wide-range of emotion featuring believable characters with realistic intentions. One moment, you’ll be cheering on Frank’s vengeance. The next moment, you’re hoping that someone hugs the guy. This is presented perfectly.
For the longest time, Daredevil has been my favorite Marvel series, with Luke Cage as a close second. Now... I have The Punisher tied with Daredevil as Marvel’s absolute best. I fully recommend this series to the masses, whether you are a comic book fan, action movie lover or someone who looks for art with a valuable message. Marvel’s The Punisher delivers on all fronts, fires on all cylinders and leaves you wanting more from the tortured, vigilante Marine. The Marine known as Frank Castle.
- "The Azorean One" Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders