If you squint while watching Netflix’s recent The Punisher teaser you’ll see glimpses of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) during his Marine Corps days in Afghanistan! It’s a much-too-brief look at what appears to be a torture-interrogation, and then a beat later we see Castle physically assaulting someone while being held back by his fellow Marines. It looks incredibly intense, and it’s just what we expected out of The Punisher’s stand-alone series.
Castle’s military experience seems to be a major focal point in the overall narrative — a key distinction from the other Marvel-Netflix shows. Captain America is often referenced in the MCU as “The Soldier,” and it’s key to his identity; without a doubt Frank Castle is a Marine first and foremost! Whereas Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Danny Rand all ponder their purpose, Frank Castle knows who and what he is. (And it’s a refreshing change in tone too). In fact, one of the lesser discussed aspects of Marvel and the MCU is their ongoing relationship with the military. There more than 30 prominent Marvel characters with military backgrounds (Captain America, Flash Thompson, Nick Fury, War Machine, Winter Soldier, Juggernaut, Bullseye, Deadpool, Captain Marvel, Moon Knight, Deathlok, and even Professor X). However, the Punisher holds a special distinction within the military, particularly the Marine Corps.
The connection between The Punisher and the military is far more than just the logo aesthetic or the character’s anti-crime demeanor. The Punisher represents something deeper to military troops and vets. It’s actually quite common to see active duty and veteran Marines sporting Punisher tattoos, wearing unofficial skull-logo unit patches, or just posing for photos with a copy of the comic — The Punisher is a symbol of strength and resilience that many of our troops can identify with. While Frank Castle’s original comic’s origin was set during the Vietnam war, he’s lately turned up in Iraq and Afghanistan too, which furthers the relationship with today’s military forces.
Now Empire has a brand-new image of Frank Castle in combat, while serving with the Marine Corps’ Force Recon (Marines’ special operations). Castle is wearing a modified tactical loadout and preparing to breach entry a building armed only with an M4A1 Carbine, a shotgun, and his trusty Ka-Bar knife. It’s a super-cool image that reinforces the significance of Castle’s military backstory, which it appears we’ll see in some detail when the show drops later this fall.
As an aside, the Punisher’s skull logo has appeared throughout the military (though unofficially) and also in Hollywood films too. In Michael Bay’s 13 Hours (2016) John Krasinski’s character has a Punisher patch on his flak vest and the logo also appears frequently in American Sniper (2014). These appearances in film are based on its actual use by combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. The following video appears on Task & Purpose, a popular military community site:
Does the emphasis on Frank Castle’s military backstory increase your excitement about the upcoming The Punisher Netflix series? 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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