After an overwhelmingly good reception from audiences with his portrayal of The Punisher in Daredevil Season 2, Jon Bernthal was tasked with leading a Punisher spin-off series on Netflix. Yesterday, set pics from The Punisher surfaced online, showing us a grizzled Frank Castle sporting a beard.
Speculation of what's going on in this picture circles around Frank going into hiding after the events of the second season of Daredevil, but I don't think that's the case. When we last saw Castle, he had fully taken up the Punisher mantle and was ready to deal some punishment on the people that deserve it, therefore him going into hiding wouldn't make much sense. So, what's going on in the picture? Could it be from a flashback? These questions got me thinking:
How Will 'The Punisher' Tackle Frank Castle's Backstory?
This is an important question. We mostly know who The Punisher is: He does his thing because his family was murdered. We just accept what happened and move on to the butt-kicking. The thing is that we haven't seen his origin story explored in live action since 2004's The Punisher. In the MCU, we know that Frank's family was murdered due to corruption in the police force. It was one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in Daredevil Season 2:
We really don't need to relive that moment after having that scene and so many other references to it but... what happened after that?
There's a fairly sizable gap from when Frank's family was murdered to when he started going after the gangs responsible for it. Castle was a very special soldier, we know that, but even he would need more conditioning to take on the gargantuan task he set out to accomplish. How did he do that? Did he just get better at doing push ups? One possibility is that he trained with other people. In the comics, for example. Frank Castle was (somewhat) trained by Captain America.
However, seeing how dark and solitary this version of Punisher is, I doubt he'd be palling around with Captain America for training (and when would it have fit into Cap's post-freeze timeline, anyway?). But my point is that even in the comics Frank Castle had some extra preparation to become one of the most feared vigilantes in the Marvel Universe. The Netflix side of the MCU gives us a more realistic, grittier look at the superhero world; considering that, what if Frank joined an underground fight club to prepare for his war against crime?
Another possibility is that he started small and worked his way up. What if he began his vigilantism by fighting small-time crooks to get a feel of how bigger criminals would handle themselves? Maybe his exploits then weren't as publicized as his victims were muggers instead of giant crime families.
Getting back to what's going on in the set picture: What if it's a flashback of when Frank was getting ready to take on the mob? Like I said, there's a time gap between his family's murders and when he became a vigilante and, getting philosophical, I doubt he didn't grieve, at least for a brief period of time. Taking all of this aside, I am confident that Netflix will explore Frank Castle's backstory even more, which leads me to my next point:
Could 'The Punisher' Be Inspired By The 'Arrow' Flashbacks?
The Netflix side of the MCU has so far done a great job of getting us to know their protagonists and that's why I'm very confident they will explore Frank's preparation for his war on crime. Here's the question though: What if his series is inspired by Arrow's flashbacks?
When Arrow started, we were given an Oliver Queen that was already the Green Arrow and each episode contained a storyline from the present and the past, during his time on the island.
The Arrow flashbacks have become infamous among comic book fans due to their stretched-out arc but Netflix gives only 13 episodes to each superhero series and, because Castle's training after his family died wasn't as long as five years, could Punisher get the Arrow treatment for his series by having each episode focus on his present as well as his short time of training? This would make Frank's storyline prior to being a vigilante feel more contained, and it would fit in with the common theme of Marvel's Netflix series to mix flashbacks in with the present day narrative. Who knows? Maybe we'll even get a look at his home life as well.
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There is of course, the possibility that Frank is going undercover to take down a target in the picture above. But, we'll have to wait for more information to drop or the show to arrive to know for sure.