It was in 1974 when the “father of gods” Stan Lee as a publisher first green lit a project helmed by Gerry Conway with John Romita Sr and Ross Andru. This took place at Marvel Comics and the name of the project was The Punisher.
After his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #129, The Punisher slowly became one of the most loved heroes for comic book fans everywhere. Frank Castle (Francis Castiglione) is the perfect antihero: war veteran, special forces training, grieving for a murdered family, starts a war on crime delivering his very own brand of extreme justice targeting anyone involved in crimes no matter how small. Frank Castle will shoot the kneecaps off a bicycle thief just as easily as he would cut the face off a murderer.
It is because Castle does not have any special powers, is very often hurt by his opponents but most of the time prevails out of bitterness and is purely driven by hate that he has amassed a huge following. The Punisher is indeed an angel of death, he has no remorse, no moral dilemma, not a lot of friends. (pretty much what I want to read about after I get off work)
Frank Castle has made appearances in animated series, video games and movies and this is what we’re going to talk about today.
Dolph Lundgren was the first man to step into Frank Castle’s shoes in 1989 bringing us a lean mean 80’s style killing machine (too much naked Frank holding yoga poses for my taste).
Years later, in 2004 , Thomas Jane did a wonderful job portraying Frank Castle in what was meant to be The Punisher’s origin story.
Jane, a known comic book fan, took the part seriously, trained with Navy SEALS, fully immersed himself in the character, almost ruined his joints with intense training but parted ways with the studio before Punisher: War Zone because of creative differences. He wanted the movie to be darker and more violent, they didn’t. Thomas Jane wrote a farewell letter to Castle’s fans via Ain’t It Cool News that broke me at the time. The Punisher needed to be brought to life by a fan.
I’m writing to tell you that I regretfully and painfully had to pull out of P2. I can’t tell you how completely broken up I am about it. After busting my ass at the gym four days a week for almost two years, watching every character driven action pic that any fan would ask me to watch while I was standing in line buying egg whites and Tuna fish (Leon the Professional, Oldboy, The Seven-Ups (GREAT flick), Point Blank, Escape from NY, The Driver, Magnum Force, The Mechanic, The Great Silence, Sexy Beast, Nighthawks, Cry Vengeance (check it out), Road Warrior, Man on Fire, Outlaw Josey Wales, Rocky (think about it), Serpico, etc etc etc.) after countless Saturday nights making notes and drinking soda water and munching on seaweed sticks while my daughter slept on my lap to the sound of automatic gunfire, (now she can’t sleep without it. I had to make a tape of automatic gunfire to play in her room at night) after hauling myself to any ‘Guns! Knifes! Ammo!’ show in any small town that I found myself in shooting Killshot or The Mist or Mutant Chronicles, after torn ligaments, screwed up rotator cuffs, thousands of $$$ on ridiculously huge vitamins, overly long conversations with frighteningly tall men about The Fastest Way To Kill Someone With Your Bare Hands, and after a dude refused to sell me a Fatburger at 2am on Santa Monica Blvd, I am, sadly – no, make that heartbrokenly – f*** it – just rip out the heart and stomp it into the pavement a couple of times – pulling out. Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves.
In 2008 Ray Stevenson tried his best to bring The Punisher to life and while his portrayal was decent, the movie did not fare well at the box-office.
Stevenson’s Punisher was hard, almost lacking any kind of emotion, ruthless and packed a huge amount of firepower. Dominic West’s Jigsaw puts up a good fight and we also get to see Micro, Castle’s on and off sidekick. They just couldn’t replace Thomas Jane.
But in March of 2016 a new iteration of The Punisher emerged as the character had a guest role on the hit Tv Show Daredevil, on Netflix.
This was the first time the world got to see The Walking Dead veteran Jon Bernthal as The Punisher and what a ride it was. Bernthal’s Punisher is a lot more grounded and real than previous versions, the way he handles himself has a very tactical feel to it and he gives off that “former special ops” vibe. John Bernthal plays a Punisher that is not physically huge but at the same time is very menacing.
Bernthal is known mostly for his stint on the walking Dead where he played bad-ass Shane. Now if there was anything remarkable about Shane it was that constant feeling of lurking danger which was successfully transferred to Frank Castle in a way that even if he is unarmed or restrained people should still be extremely careful around him.
Without spoiling anything, it is safe to say that Frank Castle’s appearance on Daredevil was so well received that the Netflix execs gave Jon bernthal his own show which is due to drop before the end of 2017, most likely in November. I know I’ll be watching.