Despite the dampening effect that Netflix and Marvel’s last few collaborations (The Defenders, Iron Fist, Luke Cage) have had on my excitement for new content from them, the one bright spot in the future for me was the prospect of a standalone Punisher series. He was the clear standout from Season 2 of Daredevil and his absence was greatly felt on the woefully underwhelming first season of The Defenders. I thought they already did a great job of setting him up as a compelling character and thought this was about as safe a bet as any for them not to screw up.
Thankfully, they did, for the most part, do The Punisher justice and in the process hopefully course corrected their meandering TV universe. I wasn’t sure which direction they were going to take The Punisher after the events of Daredevil, but I was hoping that they kept him separate from the rest of their roster. And with the exception of a well portrayed Karen Page, there’s no mention of the devil from Hell’s Kitchen or his other peers. In fact, I don’t know if this happened before or after The Defenders – it’s very much it’s own self-contained universe despite taking place in the same neighborhoods. This allows him to truly be free and be himself. That means tons of gratuitous violence and relentless wrath. Whereas his other peers often struggle with the morality of their actions or finding their true path in life, The Punisher is like a heat seeking missile, completely unwavering in his “purpose” no matter what other’s around him might think.
I was worried that they’d rehash so much about his family’s massacre that they already covered in Daredevil, but they kept it to a minimum. They were a constant haunting for him but the story really is about Frank Castle and finally vanquishing all the demons of his past. I was genuinely surprised at how much they humanized him and how much they focused on veterans and dealing with life after war. At times it was a bit heavy-handed but they did a generally good job of handling these themes. I will say that they went a bit overboard with the humanizing aspects because this really felt like the story of Frank Castle and not The Punisher. Yes, he dishes out his fair amount of punishment (and receives a sh*t load of his own), but no action sequence in the season matched any of his jaw dropping set pieces from Daredevil.
Season 1 of Netflix and Marvel’s The Punisher was a step back in the right direction for both companies. They managed to finish the story they started in Daredevil, introduce a great new character in Micro, and show a whole different side to The Punisher than we’ve ever seen before. However, I hope in Season 2 we get a lot more Punisher and a lot less Frank Castle and more action sequences that can match the high mark left from Season 2 of Daredevil.
Marvel still has a villain problem. The main mastermind behind all of Frank’s troubles (Rawlins) is pretty lame and ineffectual. They could’ve easily killed him off much earlier in the season and I wouldn’t have cared.
However, Billy Russo should be a considerable rival for seasons to come as they did a pretty good job of setting him up as Jigsaw, one of The Punisher’s main nemeses. We could all see a mile away though that he was a snake in the grass.
And that scene where he was comforting Dinah after brutally killing her partner really showed how twisted he truly was.
Dinah was yet another strong female character and that’s one area I feel they’ve really been knocking it out of the park with.
Micro was also very well introduced as Frank’s main partner/later archrival in the comics. Their friendship genuinely felt earned as they were going through so much sh*t together. Great bromance. I’m excited to see if they take him the rival route, I could easily see it happening and he’s already proved to be someone who can match Frank maybe not physically but definitely tactically.
I could’ve done without the whole opening act of the season with the construction workers. Dragged on far too long and didn’t add anything to the story.
I’m also getting tired of Netflix refusing to let characters don their costumes until the end of the season. He already earned it by the end of Daredevil. Let him be The Punisher from the jump g*ddammit!
Have you seen Season 1 of Marvel’s The Punisher? What’d you think about it? Do you think they did a good job of balancing The Punisher and Frank Castle? Did they do a good job of finishing his story they started in Season 2 of Daredevil? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your own ratings and reactions to the season.
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