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.
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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