Like many others, I was hesitant to watch The Punisher. It was an understandable stance; after all, the comic series and protagonist Frank Castle are notorious for glorifying and even normalizing violence and murder. My fears that the Netflix show would follow suit seemed to be confirmed when Marvel delayed its release after the recent massacre in Las Vegas. That said, I begrudgingly binged the advance screeners when they landed in my inbox, and I’m happy to report that the hysteria is uncalled for.
To be sure, the show has its fair share of problems. The plot slowly drags long, and the whole season feels like an unnecessary spinoff. Still, while not for the faint of heart, The Punisher succeeds in possing tough questions about morality to viewers. Are Castle’s actions justified? When does a vigilante cross the line? A lot of this is due to Jon Bernthal’s nuanced starring performance, just as perfect as he was in Daredevil. While you’re obviously rooting for him, its never clear if he’s a “good guy.”
The Punisher features loads of blood and gore. The episodes are extremely violent, yet these graphic scenes never feel like they’re there for our glee. If you find yourself excited by these sequences, it says more about you than the show. In today’s dangerous times, that’s crucial. I was pleasantly surprised the showrunners used the violence to shock fans. Those parts definitely aren’t “Oh, wow! Cool!” moments.
I’ll happily admit I was wrong to be scared about The Punisher’s messages. While the show is flawed, pacifists can rest easy: This adaptation is nothing to get riled up about.
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