It's a good question; it's a brave question. Not many people who come face-to-fave with the vigilante live long to find out the answer. Since the comic book character has been awarded a new Netflix show, due on our screens next year, we've donned our riot gear and plucked up the courage to dig into his back-story.
Who the hell is The Punisher?
A bit of a bad bugger, all told. The Marvel character is a gun-toting anti-hero, clad all in black, his costume emblazoned with a ruddy great skull. His real name is Frank Castle – shortened from Francis Castiglione – and he was a normal bloke until the Mafia killed his wife and child. From that point on, Frank Castle became… The Punisher. Basically, a really angry dude who goes after bad guys and makes them hurt real, real bad.
When was he invented?
In February 1974, when he was first given breath in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #129. Yet the character didn’t make a solo appearance until January 1986, when he enjoyed a run of five comics. The Punisher was in print consistently from that point until 1995, when the title was cancelled. The Punisher rose again in 2000, re-popularised by comic book artists Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis in a 12-issue miniseries that ran until the following year. Most recently, he appeared in this year’s All-New Punisher & Civil War II: Kingpin, and has made cameos in Marvel comics such as Wolverine, Captain America and Daredevil throughout the years.
Does he have a sidekick?
Surprisingly, for such a solitary character, he does. Microchip, aka Daniel Lieberman, first appeared in The Punisher #4 (1987). He’s sort of like Q from the Bond films, in that he makes Punisher’s weapons. We all need that person in our lives.
Haven’t I seen him on Netflix before?
Most indubitably! In fact, that’s the whole reason this exciting development has come about. He was played the actor Jon Bernthal in series two of Daredevil, a series also available to stream on Netflix and based on a Marvel comic book character. This portrayal of the character proved so popular that Netflix brought forward the release date of his own series by one whole year to capitalise on that sweet, sweet #synergy.
Has The Punisher appeared on-screen elsewhere?
You bet he has. Bur before the TV Daredevil, each screen outing for The Punisher was a bit of a disaster. The 1989 version, starring ’80s beefcake Dolph Lundgren, was critically panned, as was the 2004 remake, which the movie magazine Empire called “Marvel’s first serious misstep”. A 2008 reboot called Punisher: Warzone received a critical drubbing and became a box office flop, recouping only a third of its expenses. All in all, then, Punisher doesn’t have a great record on screen. Let’s hope this show changes that.
Who else is in this new series?
Daniel Webber from the Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63 will play a damaged young war veteran and Jason R. Moore from A Lonely Place For Dying will take on the role of Curtis, one of Frank’s only mates. Paul Schulze from Nurse Jackie will be CIA high-flyer Rawlins, while Jaime Ray Newman from Psycho prequel show Bates Motel will play Sarah Lieberman, who is married to Microchip (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Finally Michael Nathanson, who had a small role in The Wolf Of Wall Street, will star as security agent Sam Stein.
Anything else we should know about The Punisher?
According to the Marvel website, “He exercises fanatically to maintain his impressive physical conditioning and sticks to a balance diet wherever possible.” Good to know!