Marvel's upcoming series The Punisher remains the most mysterious Netflix show to date. We haven't even been given an official release date yet! The House of Ideas is carefully building up the sense of intrigue around the show, and they're using social media to do so. Over on Twitter, for example, they chose to release the episode titles — but used Morse Code to do it!
The last week has seen the official Instagram account release a series of strange images and videos. They seem to be hinting at a dangerous game of cat and mouse, one in which the Punisher is both the hunter... and the hunted.
The Quest For The Punisher
It all started on September 6th, with one single cryptic image. Ostensibly showing CCTV footage, it was released with the comment: "Come out, come out wherever you are."
Naturally, fans assumed this was a hint. Some hoped that, in exactly 13 hours, we'd see another trailer debut online, but unfortunately, we didn't. Others started adding up the numbers, trying to work out if they could calculate a release date from them. Both of these approaches seemed to draw a blank, so we were left with only one possible conclusion: That the image showed exactly what Marvel wanted it to show. Someone was searching CCTV footage, presumably looking for Frank Castle. What's more, they were clearly using sophisticated facial recognition software. So far, though, this image suggested they were drawing a blank.
The second teaser showed more CCTV footage, but was accompanied by a very different comment: "Welcome back, Frank." For those who are unaware, Gait Recognition is an emerging biometric technique used to identify people by their walking patterns. It's cutting-edge technology, currently being pioneered for home security, and undoubtedly of interest to espionage agencies. The Punisher is clearly being hunted down, and his pursuers have some pretty remarkable tech.
Another eerie image, this time of what seems to be a bearded Frank Castle. Set photos have suggested that the series will show flashbacks to Castle's family, and that he'll be sporting a beard during those scenes. Notice the ominous comment: "Family is our strength and weakness."
It seems, then that the mysterious group hunting the Punisher down have been watching him for a long time. Daredevil Season 2 closed with Castle learning that there was a vaster, more dangerous conspiracy behind the murder of his family than he'd ever believed before. The odds are good that these are the conspirators.
There's another reason this particular image is significant though. In order to conduct a Gait Analysis (as in the previous image), you need a lot of footage recording a subject's walking pattern. It seems then this shadowy group has been recording Castle for months, if not years.
Upping The Ante
This image is perhaps the creepiest of the lot, not least because it comes after a comment about family being a "weakness." Putting the sequence together, we definitely seem to be left with the implication that those hunting for Castle are responsible for his family's deaths.
The image is a smart homage to some of the eeriest scenes in Daredevil Season 2, where Karen broke into Castle's family house.
There's clearly a sequence of events building up in this series of posts. Now Castle has been identified, a task-force has been dispatched to neutralize him. It's a sinister scene, and shows a team of three heavily-armed warriors breaking into what we can only assume is Castle's current safe-house. But the comment is intriguing; are they seeking to bring Castle into the light? Or is he manipulating matters so as to expose the conspiracy that killed his family?
Let's face it, if you break into one of the Punisher's safe-houses, there's only one thing you're going to get; a firefight. Fans are eagerly awaiting the next image.
Now let's switch social media channels. In a strange twist, Marvel has chosen to release this one on the Russian social media platform VK. One of the screens actually shows footage from the last Instagram video.
It looks as though this is actually Ebon Moss-Bachrach's Micro! It makes sense, given this character has always been proficient with tech in the comics. We can assume Marvel's strange decision to release this on Russian social media is a hint that Micro is overseas at this stage, actually watching from Russia. But how is Micro involved in this mysterious conspiracy?
A Fascinating, Meta-Aware Concept
Marketing for The Punisher has been absolutely fascinating. Marvel's kept pretty quiet about the series, refusing to let on any details. What little we know has been revealed through strange, cryptic clues. There's an amusing sense that fans are desperately hunting Frank Castle down too, much like this shadowy organization.
This meta-narrative is a bold approach on #Marvel's part, one where the studio has simply released a sequence of cryptic messages and trusted social media to take care of the rest. While discussion so far has been muted, I suspect that's largely because fans don't quite know where this is going just yet. Given the images and clips have been released every day for the last week, we can expect more over the next few days.
It seems as though these enigmatic clips and photos are building to a head. But what will we see at the end of it all? Marvel's putting in a bit too much effort for this just to be a release date announcement. Can we ultimately expect another trailer for The Punisher? Or some sort of major revelation, one that will leave the Internet buzzing with excitement?
Keep your eyes on the official Instagram account for The Punisher. And in the meantime, we'll be here at Movie Pilot to help you interpret these cryptic clues!