OPINION: ‘The Punisher’ provides less substance than audiences deserve


Courtesy of Netflix

Khanlin Rodgers

Now may not have been a great time for Netflix to debut “The Punisher,” but truth be told, I’m not quite sure when the “right time” may have been.

“The Punisher” is the most recent attempt by Netflix to profit on the cash cow that is Marvel Comics. The story is relatively straightforward and revolves around ex-marine Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) who is on a mission to avenge the murders of his wife and children by killing everyone involved.

Unlike many of his comic book hero counterparts,  Castle doesn’t have any special powers and won’t hesitate to kill. In fact, it’s typically his first plan of action. He’s actually a lot like Batman if you were to replace Bruce Wayne’s immense wealth and animal costume with a lot of guns and a seemingly insatiable bloodlust.

Castle’s thirst for revenge leads him to wage a one-man war against both criminals and government agents alike; anyone he deems guilty or corrupt.

The character was first introduced in the mid-’70s at a time when gun violence, mental health and their relationship to each other weren’t the same hot-button issues that they are today.

“The Punisher” doesn’t just touch on both of these topics, it uses both of them as plot devices to push the story forward. Although both issues are integral parts of the plotline, not much is said about them.

This is where the series really falls short. Unlike the source material, the show doesn’t offer any insight or commentary about either one of the issues. They’re used solely to add to the gritty atmosphere and flesh out Castle’s dark, brooding personality.

This is especially disappointing because making political statements and drawing parallels to our reality is one of the pillars of comic book writing. This series, in particular, does none of the former and barely any of the latter, and it’s a shame to see a staple in the medium becoming less important as it changes platforms.

Of course, I was never expecting the series to miraculously fix two of this country’s biggest problems, but considering it’s a high-profile series on one of the most popular streaming services, I was hoping it would provide more substantial ideas to go along with the sensationalized violence.

Despite this oversight, there’s still a shot at redemption for this series. Season 2 hasn’t been officially confirmed (yet), but the finale left a lot of room for the story to develop further. Hopefully, if the show is picked up for another season, it won’t continue this missed opportunity.