The Punisher: A Review
I had some free time this weekend and binged all of Netflix's The Punisher in one go. Here are my thoughts on the latest Marvel show.
AMAZING. Those are my thoughts.
At first I had hesitations before the show even came out because The Punisher is primarily known for one thing, and that's how he gets rid of bad guys....which is with guns. And with all of the mass shootings we've had in the past couple of years and debates on gun control laws, I was concerned that everyone was going to judge the Punisher before they even watched it as "Pro-gun propaganda". And even though, yes, guns are Frank Castle's weapon of choice, that's not what the Punisher is about.
There are other comic book heroes that use guns: John Diggle (DC/Arrow), Wild Dog (DC/Arrow), on again/off again villain/vigilante Deadshot (DC/Arrow/Suicide Squad), Rocket Raccoon (Marvel/Guardians of the Galaxy), Hit Girl (Icon/Marvel), Hellboy (Dark Horse), Deadpool (Marvel), Iron Man to an extent (Marvel/Avengers).
But if you take those guns away, they're still heroes. They can still kick your ass without them. Because they are not defined by they're weapons. They have stories, they have motives, they have other skills.
While I enjoyed the original Punisher movies, the main problem I had with them is that all they focused on was revenge and guns. And then they just threw a bunch of comedic moments in to make sure the entire movie wasn't a complete bloodbath.
But this show does the Punisher right. He is more than just his guns and his quest for revenge. He is a military veteran who has gone through some serious sh*t and is going through some of the worst PTSD I've ever seen. Not only does he have to deal with what he did in some illegal secret military group, he also has to deal with the murder of his family. A mass murder that he was supposed to die in, and yet survived. He has so much psychological damage, I'm surprised he's even walking.
What I really appreciate about the show is that it gets into veteran psychology and what veterans have to deal with when they come home. I'm not a veteran, and I'm not even going to pretend to understand what they go through over there. I do have a few friends who are veterans, and from what I understand, what a lot of veterans struggle with when they come home is purpose. They need a "mission" they are goal oriented. They just came from a life where everything was dictated for them and they were told what to do and when to do it. They're life revolved around a schedule and a purpose. When they get home they're given a lot of freedom and that scares the crap out of them. There's no schedule unless they make one themselves, and if they get a job it seems meaningless compared to what they just came back from. Going from "fighting for your country" to "part-time job" or "9 to 5" is a huge difference. It can seem tedious and pointless at times in the grand scheme of what you've seen.
Sometimes veterans find something to cling onto something like a group that meets regularly like the VA. It's a regularly scheduled group that is composed of like minded people that have been what you've been though.
In The Punisher there is a character named Lewis who feels that the VA group he goes to isn't enough and finds something else to cling to. I'm not going to say what this thing is, just that it gets out of hand. But there are parallels between what Lewis is doing and what Frank Castle does and it makes you realize that Frank is constantly walking a fine line between what we the viewers deem as "justified" and just straight up murder.
I've heard some people say that the Punisher is made up of 'multiple plotlines' and that some of them are 'pointless', but I disagree. It's all connected in the end. All the plots, all the characters, there is meaning behind where we started and where we end up with the show. I've had some friends that agree with me on this, but still feel that the Lewis storyline was just "plot filler" and that "it wasn't needed". Even if it is plot filler, I still felt it was needed. It showed the dark side of some of the things that military vets go through in their own minds. Yes, the Punisher shows that with Frank Castle, but his trauma is a very specific and extreme case. With Lewis, you could actually feel that this wasn't just some comic book character, this was a real person going through some real psychological problems.
Okay, I realize that I might have gone on a little bit of a rant there about veteran psychology, but I think it's really important and I'm glad the Punisher is bringing it to light.
So, in summary: The show is awesome. But don't expect it to be Daredevil. Daredevil was very ACTION, ACTION, PLOT, ATTORNEY STUFF, ACTION, ACTION. And The Punisher doesn't have an 'alter ego' he bounces back and forth between. So a lot of the show is actual plot progression.
It's like the Marvel version of Jason Bourne:
-Everyone thinks he's dead.
-He's really good with weapons and hand to hand combat.
-He's trying to find the people that did this to him.
-He just wants to live his life, or what he has left of a life.
-There's one girl that keeps getting tangled up with him that understands what he's doing.
-There's a lot of government conspiracy involved.
It's amazing. It's awesome. I love it. Go check it out on Netflix NOW.