EDITORIAL: How THE PUNISHER Can Work In The Marvel Cinematic Universe

There are people who argue that either Frank Castle AKA The Punisher is possible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm here to tell you it is, and am about to explain so with my usually flawless logic in the following editorial.

Editorial Opinion

With Marvel and Netflix beginning to focus on streel level Marvel characters, I was surprised that in the announcement of the Netflix series that The Punisher wasn't amongst the listed series. Some people have taken this as a sign that Marvel won't touch the character at all. I have been saying for a while now that it's entirely possible that we will see hints and nods to more street level characters and if they do a 'Phase II' of the Netflix shows, that The Punisher would be almost a given.

So how will Marvel and Disney integrate this violent killer into the Marvel Cinematic Cuniverse (MCU)? Well I have a few ideas, and if you would like to indulge me, I would like to tell you how Marvel can truly make Frank Castle work in the MCU.


If you have read a Punisher comic, or even watched previous adaptions of the character, you know he's brutal. The problem with this is that the MCU has set itself up as being a relatively family-friendly franchise. So how would you take a hyper-violent character like The Punisher and make him work.

I think The Dark Knight proved you can be violent without showing much. Careful shooting and editing can make a world of difference. That said, I think Marvel has he benefit of other characters and heroes who codone killing. Even other street-level characters like Daredevil are more inclined to beat someone mercilessly but leave them for the police. Even in the Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher animated film from last year, the film put the two 'heroes' together and provided a nice dynamic where The Punisher was kept to using non-lethal tactics. From my review of that film I stated (and still stand by) the following:

With the Punisher, Marvel introduces him in the most badass (and yet PG-13) way possible. Shying away from gratuitous violence and blood, it instead implies the type of death and destruction Castle is capable of without hitting you over the head with it. Many people will wonder how a character like the Punisher can be introduced into the MCU; and while Black Widow & Punisher never quite definitively states as much, there's a great template here to follow and grow on.

As for Marvel comics, I think an interesting thing is how the other heroes view The Punisher. Yes he kills, but in a sense he's a still a hero. I would like for a movie to have a moral quandry put forward where Castle is challenged by another hero to maintain non-lethal tactics with the ultimate question being, with other heroes who let their villains live, what are they ultimately achieving? By killing his villains, The Punisher is ultimately saving more lives then if he let the villain live.


Some of you may recognize the above title as a quote from the film The Usual Suspects. In that film, a seemingly low-level member of a crime gone wrong is questioned about the supposed ringleader of the whole thing: the infamous Kaizer Soze. I won't by any means spoil what happens in that movie, but watch the clip below (if you haven't seen the film or don't know what I'm talking about.)

My point in sharing this seemingly random clip from a 90's crime-drama is how the film uses the account of a witness to tell the story of this myth among men. Even near the end of the clip, Soze is painted as this mythical street level criminal.

In a sense, this would be the perfect way to introduce The Punisher into the MCU. Have him start as a myth, a force to be reckoned with. I'll be touching on supporting cast shortly, but I imagine a great way to tell the story is to see the early days of the Punisher taskforce. Have Martin Soap and Molly Von Richtofe interviewing various criminals piecing together who The Punisher is. As the series progresses, the two will see The Punisher as a force for good ultimately and will agree to help him by providing intel on various criminals. Ultimately they (and the audience) will find out who he is; his backstory, reason for hunting criminals, and so on.


I would like to see the first season's villain's be two-fold. Have Jigsaw set up, wih perhaps him being horribly disfigured in the first episode, then as the season goes on, have him do his best to find and kill Frank. With the season cultimating in Frank, and other street level characters, realizing that by not ensuring that his job was 'done' that Jigsaw has proven to be more of a problem then if he was killed. Again, coming back to that moral quandry, and the role The Punisher can play in delivering jusice. For someone like Jigsaw,I would like to see Michael Pitt (Hannibal, Boardwalk Empire, Seven Psychopaths) bring his acing chops to the role.

On the note of villains, I would also like to see various small time criminals to fill the space between The Punishers first and last fight with Jigsaw. I think though, you would have to have someone fill an enforcer-esque role for Jigsaw, and so I'd think bringing back The Russian would be good fun. The fight scene between he and Frank in the 2004 Punisher film was for many the highlight of that film. I would like to see what Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables 2, Masters of the Universe) could do with the role.

Having Microchip is a given, I think you could also have Martin and Molly set up as an interesting subplot involving police corruption, where The Dark Knight style they could eventually show Martin's rise to the position as police commisioner. Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street, Wolf of Wall Street, Superbad), Aaron Staton (Mad Men, L.A. Noire), and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Girl, Interrupted) in those respective roles would be fantastic. Maybe my love for Mad Men is too evident, and so is probably my choice for Castle himself, Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town, Sucker Punch). He's said before that he's not too keen on superhero roles, but I think something like Castle is perfect for him. While I would understand him never playing a comic book role, I think in this case he would be perfect for Frank Castle.

Now, costume, we here at CBM love to pick apart costumes but I think in my opinion; if you're going to do Frank Castle as this myth of the streets you need a costume that reflects it. While I wouldn't have much else inspired by it, the Marvel Noir costume (pictured above) would be a great way to visually show The Punisher.


The Punisher is one of my favourite heroes because he's not a traditional hero. He's not out to appease many people, or to be favoured among the populace or other heroes. He's simply a man who has seen the evil that society is capable of and sees how he can fix it, his way.

I told you that I think The Punisher can work in the MCU, and I hope that more then anything this excites you to keep ears and eyes open on April 10th when Daredevil debuts to hopefully see a reference, a nod and a wink, something. I would think that Marvel acknowledges and understands the inherent popularity in a character like Frank Castle and will want to do his character justice.
You don't know what it's like to hate. To have your entire life become nothing more than an expression of hate. Nothing else matters. Nothing else can compare. Or taste as sweet.
- Frank Castle
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