The Punisher: Spoiler-Free Review

Just to start off, it is violent. It is gory. It is amazing. The cast is terrific, and the supporting cast is overall stellar. Jon Bernthal truly embraced the character of Frank Castle, and played the part with his heart. Ben Barnes’ Billy Russo was played phenomenally, with the character’s true motives staying hidden throughout, yet driving Russo home. Finally, Ebon Moss-Banrach’s Micro was stellar, and his dialogue with Frank made every scene between the two extremely enjoyable.

Comedy sprinkled itself tastefully throughout the thirteen-episode series, mixing wonderfully with the action-packed thriller that is The Punisher. Numerous people have come out of the wood-works stating that this should have been an eight or ten episode series, but I’m here to tell you that it most definitely deserved the thirteen episodes. The overall story has so many moving parts that eight or ten episodes just would not have been enough. The story itself is awesome, as Castle and Micro fight to put the pieces together to ultimately reach their individual goals.

Many different conversations can and should stem from the latest installment of the Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe. For starters, the series heavily focuses on a veteran’s support group. It is alluded to that almost every veteran in the meeting suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, an issue for many veterans returning home from war. PTSD is a serious issue that has, in the eyes of much of the public, been seriously mishandled among society. The stigma of “Man up,” and “Don’t be such a baby,” resonates with many, and society seems to put down the notion that PTSD is truly an issue. This new series attempts to take on that stigma and show the world that suffering from PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. The producers even utilize Frank’s backstory to show that he suffers from PTSD, and ultimately needs to deal with it in a better way than killing anyone that makes him mad. Overall, the issue of PTSD was wonderfully handled, and hopefully we as a society can begin accepting that PTSD needs to be addressed more directly than it has been in the past.

Another conversation that may come from The Punisher is that of gun control. Multiple mass shootings have taken place over the course of the past 2 years, and the topic has been heavily debated. As we all know by now, Punisher utilizes an array of weapons to fight his war on crime. Even the idea of gun control was brought up in the series itself, with Karen Page and a New York Senator lightly debating the topic. The series itself never gave a decisive answer on how the producers and writers felt, but instead seemed to leave it open for conversations amongst fans and the remainder of society. Again, it was handled well, and seemed to add a little to the overall story that the series was telling.

Unfortunately, as with everything, there are also some downsides. For this, there were two distinct things which contribute to the negative aspect of the series. The first one, which is very short, is the dialogue and actions of Sam Stein, portrayed by Michael Nathanson. What this boils down to seems to be just Nathanson’s delivery of his lines, however, some felt just odd, regardless of who might have said them. His actions also seemed a little quirky and out of place for the DHS agent.

The second issue is much larger; the Netflix MCU follows a strict guideline for how a series needs to be built and plays out. Honestly, it would have been completely possible to switch out Frank, Micro, Billy Russo, and many other characters with say Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, and Wilson Fisk, or Danny Rand, Colleen Wing, and Harold Meachum. Although The Punisher is a completely separate show, it follows the “Netflix Formula,” where hero minds their own business, hero finds problem they can’t ignore, rich villain tries to stop hero from ruining their plans, henchmen go after hero, hero and rich villain finally face off. Oh, and don’t forget the second, throwaway villain each series has.

The Netflix Formula worked for all the shows, but the repetitive nature of the formula is getting old. Numerous other Netflix shows, such as House of Cards, and Frontier have thrived without following this formula. Taking the beloved Marvel characters and letting writers be creative with the formula would be loved by fans and allow for more creativity instead of the structured, “this happens here, that happens there.”

Overall, Marvel’s The Punisher is a phenomenal show, and the opening credit scene is worth the one minute and nine seconds of watching at least once. Hopefully Marvel renews its latest series with Netflix, or maybe puts it on their upcoming streaming service with new seasons in 2019. Let us know what you think about The Punisher in the comments below! And be sure to follow Geek Motivation on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on all the latest MCU news!

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