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– by David Kozlowski

For the last several months we’ve been asking — no demanding — that Marvel and Netflix share a proper trailer for this fall’s The Punisher. Today, we got our wish, and it’s everything we’ve been hoping for… but now we’re wishing it was November already. We expect Season 1 to drop on or around Veteran’s Day — we still don’t know precisely when, which has become an almost comical topic online. So let’s rewatch this trailer another dozen or so times and compare notes.

Start with the obvious. If there’s any lingering doubt that Jon Bernthal was born to play The Punisher (there shouldn’t be), then this trailer should settle that score once and for all. Bernthal is Frank Castle — the absolute embodiment of the violent, unrelenting, uncompromising, force-of-nature that blew our minds in last year’s Daredevil Season 2. If anything, showrunner Steve Lightfoot has cranked the volume way past 11.

Related – The Punisher Trailer: Everyone Wants Frank Castle Dead

So, let’s take a few minutes to break down the new trailer and identify what it contains and why we should be so excited for The Punisher‘s stand-alone Netflix debut:

1: A Storyline Focused On Espionage, Conspiracy, And The Military-Industrial Complex

Unless I missed something, all evidence in this trailer points to the fact that there are no ninjas, no mind-control, no dragons, no crazy half-brothers (so far as we know). Just good, old-fashioned dudes with guns. The events depicted within this footage suggest that Castle’s still hunting down folks connected to his family’s horrific killing, but somewhere along the way the plot shifts to a CIA-FBI-DHS conspiracy that somehow relates to Castle’s combat experiences in Afghanistan. It’s evident that Frank Castle did some really bad stuff, and now it’s all coming home to roost.

Despite the overt violence and action, there’s also the subtle implication in this trailer (and previous teasers) that it’s all connected. Castle was once party to several dark ops — sanctioned or otherwise — and now some of those same folks are in high-profile Washington D.C. power positions — people who consider Castle both a loose end and a loose cannon. Conflict!


2: An Arsenal Straight Outta The 80s

You want guns? We got guns. Lots and lots of guns. Early in the trailer there’s a moment where Castle locks, loads, straps, buckles, zips, and slaps his gear into operational readiness. It’s a scene right out of Schwarzenegger’s Commando (or Raw Deal, or True Lies, or… you get the gist). In The Punisher‘s world, every weapon has a specific purpose, no bullet or blade shall be wasted. Say one thing about Frank Castle, he’s efficient.

The Punisher is ultimately a master of arms: sharp, dull, blunt, and kinetic. Castle wields no less than 10 firearms in this trailer, but it seems clear this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many, many tools Castle employs in his pursuit of answers. Bottom line, weapons (of all kinds) are The Punisher’s superpowers, he can’t fall back on 360-degree perception, bullet-proof skin, super strength, or a magic hand. Few see this as a limitation. As far as most fans are concerned, Castle’s too-human-frailties are part of what makes him so compelling within the hyper-reality of the MCU.


3: Embracing The Darkness

You like blood, right? The Punisher trafficks in blood. Seriously, somebody’s gotta invent a Punisher drinking game. I’m game to play, but if I gotta down a shot every time Castle offs somebody, my weekend of binging is gonna entail a whole lotta purging too.

Here again lies a key difference between The Punisher and rest of the Netflix-based MCU. Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist have a code, they don’t kill (Jessica Jones is a bit more pragmatic, but she goes out of her way to avoid killing). The Punisher, however, is an executioner; he kills to make sure his enemies stay down (and possibly because he likes it too). Also, it’s hard not to cringe at that array of bloody hand-tools above — judging by the blood splattered throughout this trailer, there’s a whole lotta bad news coming to a whole lotta bad guys.


4: A Setting That Reaches Beyond New York’s City Limits

We already know that Castle’s Marine Corps past will be central to the story, and that means quality narrative time spent outside of New York City proper. Each of the previous Marvel-Netflix series focused upon NYC, not only a base of operations but also as key to understanding each character’s soul (Daredevil=Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage=Harlem, etc). Not so with The Punisher, he’s a man without a home or a soul (not anymore, at least). At least some of the overall story in The Punisher appears to take place in NYC, but there are also scenes staged in our nation’s capital, a pursuit through thick forests, a sniping event on snow-covered mountains, and plenty of grim industrial zones full of chains, gears, and bespoke factory machinery that one should avoid being tossed into. This appears to be a wide, sprawling series that covers a lot of ground — physically and metaphorically!


5: The Truth Must Be Taken

Catchy, right? As one-liners go this is powerful stuff. The Punisher‘s narrative seems to focus on a mystery that involves both a government conspiracy and a cover-up. We know that Castle isn’t interested in fighting crime or being anyone’s idea of a hero; he’s motivated by more personal affronts, like the killing his family or the disparaging of his military service — the latter seems like the more interesting angle, as we’ve already seen the former play out in Daredevil. The Punisher doesn’t represent or protect a city or an ideal, he fights for his beliefs. Period. End of Story.

The other significant thing that separates The Punisher from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist: identity. Each of those other shows spent their entire first seasons deciding whether or not they were heroes, vigilantes, or even crime-fighters… not so with Frank Castle; he knows who he is, he knows what he does, and he appears to have little reservation about how he does it. That alone is highly refreshing for Marvel’s street-level superhero sub-genre.

Marvel needs The Punisher to be different, an outsider who shakes up the status quo. In Daredevil Season 2 the counterpoint relationship between Punisher and Daredevil was crucial in helping to understand both characters, by contrasting their styles and personalities we learned a lot about both.

One a scale of 1 to 11, how insane does The Punisher look to you? Let us know in the comments down below!

The Punisher hits Netflix this fall (rumor has it on Nov 10-11, 2017).

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SOURCE: Netflix

  • underdogchamp

    “The truth must be taken” is truly a bad ass tag line. As is the writing style of this piece…David you pencil whipped the shit out of this list. Every point is ON point and if folks weren’t meth jacked by the trailer, they surely will be after reading this.

    • Much appreciated! I’m a hardcore Daredevil fan, but Bernthal’s Punisher was so amazing last year that I might have to change my allegiance!

      • underdogchamp

        In total agreement. I think Bernthal’s at his best as a heavy and Frank Castle’s anti-hero nature is a perfect fit. I loved the first 2 seasons of Daredevil. But as much as I enjoyed The Defenders, it sort of diluted the gritty tone of the solo Daredevil show, especially the 1st season. The Punisher will be the perfect antidote for that. Can’t wait.

  • Victor Roa

    it does seem that they did do a departure from a series that’s already dark, but you’re right, no ninja’s government cover up, and aside from Karen Page….. no other Defenders antics like someone saying “We have to keep an eye out for men in tights.”

    • Hopefully, the lack of superpowers means that they can stay gritty and focus on just telling a good story. Sometimes I think the weakest parts of the Marvel shows are the exhibition of abilities. Daredevil Season 1 really rocked… right up until he put on the red suit, which was terrible. Punisher was the best part of DD Season 2, and that first half of the season was a pure focus on character not powers.

      I’m really intrigued by the real-world CIA-FBI stuff suggested by the Punisher trailer. I don’t need to see ninjas, dragons, wizards, psychics, etc. Leave that stuff for the MCU movies, keep Netflix-Marvel focused on gritty, realistic-ish street crime.

      • Victor Roa

        It’s a weird problem. But I do think like some of these shows just burn through storylines from comics way too fast, and as I see this I see glimpse of Garth Ennis, and more into more exciting ideas…. and I’m liking it but I’m afraid they dip their toes in ideas and never really deep dive since this is the longer format of TV and not a feature film. There’s violence, but then what could make Frank not cross that line with evil military crew? There’s been 3 punisher takes but this is the Punisher that made me feel like I’m 10 years old again…. or maybe I should say 20 something, Ennis really did save Punisher from 90s avenging demon knight era…. soul guns.

    • Mad Barchetta

      Did someone say “men in tights?”

      We’re men… We’re men in tights
      We roam around the forest looking for fights.
      We’re men… We’re men in tights.
      We rob from the rich and give to the poor, that’s right.

      We may look like sissys,
      But watch what you say or else we’ll put out your lights. (bang)

      • Victor Roa

        “Did you say abe Lincoln?

  • Rodrigo Chandia

    It’s Person of Interest meets John Wick… GENIUS…

  • Mad Barchetta

    “He kills to make sure his enemies stay down (and possibly because he likes it too).” And…I’ll add that we can be guaranteed that he won’t spend the better part of his 5th season all angsty over the fact that he likes it, even if the son of the first guy he killed comes back to mess with him!

    So, SIX reasons to be excited!

    • Good point, I agree. I gots no time for weepy superheroes, embrace what you do, and then go do it.

    • Eh the big difference there is that Oliver wants to be a hero but is trying to figure out how. Frank has no qualms with just being a soldier.

  • Danny B

    Trailers like this for shows that are like this (hopefully) are why Netflix is kicking its own fair amount of ass at the moment.
    Play on guys, play on…..

  • Kronx

    Editing the gun blasts to match the drums? They got me. I’m in.

  • JSmoove

    They’ve been on a pretty terrible run starting with the last half of Luke Cage. I’m not going to get excited until I see the reviews.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Film and Media Studies.