Warning: Spoilers for parts of Daredevil season 2 and The Punisher
Like the incredible Jessica Jones, Marvel’s The Punisher examines and elevates a character and a genre defined by tropes and clichés. Despite being one in a long series of knock-offs of the Lone Vigilante genre – codified in its modern format by Death Wish and the Executioner novels – Netflix’s Marvel series takes a one-note anti-hero and becomes a surprisingly thoughtful examination of the damage that war and violence does to the people we expect to carry it out.
Unlike in previous versions of the character, we aren’t watching the Ultimate Bad-Ass going on his Rip Roaring Rampage of Revenge as we sit back and enjoy the splatter. Instead, we get deep into the meat of a character who is, ultimately, defined by pain and loss. And it’s in that examination that we see something interesting. In a very real way, Frank Castle is the ultimate Alpha Male – he looks like he’s carved from marble, is unquestionably the dominant figure in any room, takes damage that would bring down a Terminator and kicks ass like he’s driving an army of mules. But the things that make him that alpha also signal one crucial fact: Frank Castle is a completely and utterly broken human being.