Marvel 101: The Punisher

The new series of Daredevil is almost upon us, and this time we’re not just getting the visually impaired vigilante, we’ll also be seeing John Bernthal from The Walking Dead portraying the Punisher…

But just who is the Punisher? What’s his deal? Whose side is he on?

We’ll just have to wait and see what Netflix has in store, but read on for a bit of background on the latest comicbook character to get the Netflix treatment…

Jon Bernthal As The Punisher | Daredevil Season 2

Who is he?

Most comic book characters have one thing in common. No, not the spandex – I’m talking about that one moment that leads them to the life-changing decision of becoming a full time superhero/antihero/villain/whatever.
For decorated war hero Frank Castle, his life-changing moment came in the form of some cold-blooded murder (quite a common catalyst in the comicbook world).

Whilst on leave from the military, Castle and his family were out for a picnic in Central Park when they witnessed a mob shooting. Fearing that there would be witnesses the mobsters killed Frank’s wife and two young children.

Naturally, he was a bit miffed by this. He dropped out of the marines, got a fancy costume and decided to launch a one-man crackdown on crime. Using his military combat training and packing an armoury that would make Charlton Heston jealous, he set off to rid his city of all criminals.

By killing them.

That’s what makes The Punisher stand out from all the other vigilantes out there. Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil etc. will happily beat criminals up until the cows come home, but with The Punisher there are no half measures. Whether it’s a mugging or a murder, if you’re a criminal in New York City, then Castle will happily turn you into a human colander.

First appearance.

The Punisher was created in the mid-seventies by Jerry Conway and John Romita Sr. (although Stan Lee provided the name). He first appeared in Spider-Man #129, pursuing the wall-crawler whilst under the belief that Spidey had murdered Norman Osborne.

Punisher First Appearance


In a slight contradiction to the wiping-out-crime vow, Castle certainly likes to break the rules a bit himself. He’s a pretty violent guy and has no real qualms about using morally-questionable techniques to clean up the streets.

I was going to do a quick run through of the Punisher’s combat skills and training, but there’s just way too much of it. From guns and knives, to martial arts and explosives, let’s just assume that if there’s a method of killing somebody, then the Punisher is highly trained in it.

The Punisher’s extreme approach doesn’t go down too well with other superheroes, a theme that will probably play a strong part in the Netflix series. A classic example of this was when he joined Captain America’s resistance in the Civil War event. He joined the team and then a few moments later killed two of the new recruits as they were former criminals. Naturally, Captain America was a bit annoyed by this and beat the Punisher to a pulp. Castle took the beating and refused to fight back against the good Captain as he had too much respect for him.

The Punisher Punched By Captain America Avengers


Punisher’s costume has changed a bit over time. He’s gone from a spandex and white gloves ensemble to a slightly more casual t-shirt and coat in recent years. The one thing that has stayed the same though is the white skull insignia on his chest.

Some say it’s to intimidate his enemies, others say that it’s to draw fire away from his unprotected head and towards his bulletproof vest. Either way it looks pretty cool and it seems like it will be popping up in the new series of Daredevil soon.

Are you excited about the new season of Daredevil? Let us know in the comments below, or join in the conversation on Twitter or Facebook

Author: Sean Burns

Sean is a freelance radio producer with a background in presenting and marketing. He is unashamedly geeky and particularly enjoys waxing lyrical about all things Marvel or Star Wars related. Some people might call him a fanboy... and they’d be right to do so. Currently residing in Bournemouth, UK.

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