Starring: Jon Bernthal (Frank Castle), Amber Rose Revah (agent Madani), Ebon Moss-Bachrach(Micro), and Ben Barnes(Billy Russo).
Well, first I have to say that I am a huge fan of the Punisher and have been for years. My favorite series is the late and great Punisher Max from a few years ago, this was what I was hoping Netflix and Marvel were going to emulate with this series. The reason for this flawed thought process is because of what they gave us in DareDevil season 2. That was the Frank Castle I was expecting and in all fairness we the audience got that Frank Castle sometimes. This inaugural season of the Punisher was, well I don’t know what it was honestly. This season had the main storyline that is continued from DareDevil season 2. With Frank gunning for those involved in the conspiracy that killed his wife and kids, we the audience thought it was over at the end of DareDevil season 2. But apparently, this conspiracy runs deep and has a lot of players. At the beginning after Frank thinks he has killed everyone involved and feels that his mission is complete and he is just going through the motions of life. He is suddenly contacted by a hacker calling himself micro (yes micro from the warzone series) and pulls him back in. So that sets the stage for the main story arc, but the problem with the Punisher is that it seemed packed with filler. The side stories and the issues they were trying to address is fine such as soldiers dealing with trauma which is a huge and serious problem in this country and deserves to be discussed. But it was like watching a completely different show at times. I really don’t know what they were trying to do with addressing that issue in the show. Now I must say that this eventually does lead to a pretty good Punisher vs crazy ex-soldier situation, but it just takes a long time getting there. Then you toss in the drama of Micro’s family dealing with his not being there, and now you have a mashup action, drama, soap opera-like feel to the show. Then they throw homeland security, the CIA, and a private military force. Now, all we need now is Claire Danes and we have the show Homeland. I feel that I must say that in retrospect, that I get it. Frank Castle aka the Punisher is not an easy character to bring to life, especially when he’s in a world with superheroes and villains and all he has are guns. With that being said, I think gun issue was a big problem when they were making the show. Unfortunately, all the mass shootings in recent history that have happened in this country, no one wants to make a show that seems to be glorifying gun violence. So Netflix and Marvel we’re walking a tightrope and trying to make the Punisher be more than just a gun-toting maniac so there is that problem. The writers also had to humanize Frank Castle better than the comic books have done in the past, which is tough. The actors did a pretty good job playing their roles, and Jon Bernthal did a really good job playing Frank Castle as he did in Daredevil season 2. He made you not like Frank Castle that much, but you do understand him. I think that’s what they were going for because ultimately Frank Castle’s not a likable guy. If you read The Punisher comic book series you’re not reading it because you love Frank Castle, you may like him somewhat. But most are really reading it because we want to see some of the worst people on the planet finally get what they deserve for all of the evil and terrible crap they have done. With that being said that’s hard to do that in this political climate nowadays, especially on television. So I get why they had to change up the dynamic of the Punisher to try and not create some type of outrage with the public because of the gun violence. But not to say that it was not violent, but the series was nowhere near as violent as the Frank Castle we saw in Daredevil season 2.
Now with all of that being said, I have to say that I liked the series a lot more after I took a couple days off from trying to binge-watch it because I found to be a bit of a chore because of some of the slowness and the filler. It was difficult to really stay interested in some of the characters. The actors did a good job with what they were given, but it just didn’t pull me in so could crank out a ton of episodes in one sitting. I felt like the show didn’t even take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no one even mentioned any of the events that were happening in this universe. There was no sign of the damage from the alien attack from The Avengers, no mentioning of the events from the Defenders. It was like The Punisher was just a standalone side project. So I don’t know where they’re going to go from here, I can imagine that there is going to be a season 2 probably sometime in 2019. I say this because of the introduction of one of the punishers classic villains at the end of the season 1. I don’t want to give any spoilers at all in this review so you all have to go and watch it yourself because even though it’s not what I expected I’m still a Punisher faithful and I want more and more people to watch it, so there can be a season 2. Hopefully, they can continue to tweak it and finally get it right. With all the failed Punisher films from the past, Netflix and Marvel are my only hope to finally getting the Punisher right and I think they’re getting there, it just going to be a few growing pains along the way.
I found this review to be somewhat difficult to write, it’s because of the different directions the show took to get to the end of the season, and how different it was from The Punisher that I know and any of the comic book fans knew. But I still gave it a chance and I hope those reading will do the same it’s not terrible, it’s just not mind-blowing and spectacular. So, all in all, I will give it a 7 out of 10.
Thanks for reading Nick