The marketing blitz for The Punisher is in full swing thanks to a brand new trailer that's sure to leave fans thrilled. But even as we gradually learn more about Marvel's latest series, one question looms large in our minds: Just when is the series going to stream on Netflix? Surprisingly, Marvel seem to be no closer to answering that question...
The Mystery Surrounding The Show's Release Date
Until 2017, Netflix only tended to release two Marvel shows each year. Back in August last year though, we began to suspect that this was about to change after Netflix loaded a landing page for the series on their app, something they normally do about a year before they release a show. Marvel confirmed that two months later, releasing a haunting teaser that announced The Punisher would stream in 2017.
Production started in October 2016, leading most fans to believe the series would stream in October or November this year. More recently, that was apparently confirmed by director Dearbhla Walsh, who worked on one episode of The Punisher.
"One other [thing] that hasn't been aired yet, which was an episode for the new Marvel series 'The Punisher,' which I did just before Christmas, but it's not airing until November. I directed that in New York and edited in L.A."
According to MCUExchange, insiders claimed that the series would be released on Tuesday 14th (an odd date, given Netflix tend to release shows on Fridays). In contrast, many fans have speculated that we should expect The Punisher to come out on the 11th, Veteran's Day, which may come as no surprise given how the show promises to explore issues faced by veterans. Jeph Loeb recently explained that this will be a central theme to The Punisher:
"The Punisher... allowed us to do is comment on a lot of things that are going on, not the least of which is the plight of America’s servicemen. We have great respect for them and we see how challenging it is for some of them when they come home and what their lives are like. We show different ways that their lives are affected, but always have an eye towards being able to say, ‘thank you for your service’."
The Truth Is Hidden
Still, fans have no official news on The Punisher's release date. In fact, Netflix has been deliberately redacting the release date from official press releases, a smart way of trolling journalists and generating excitement. This tactic has also spread to the official social media accounts that represent The Punisher too:
Intriguingly, the most recent trailer was accompanied by a tweet with four digits redacted, rather than three. In fact, even the latest trailer ends with the release date clearly redacted.
What's Going On?
Why would Marvel and Netflix hide the release date like this? The only possible answer is that they're planning a "surprise drop" for the series. We can probably assume it won't be until after New York Comic Con (Marvel is putting together a Punisher panel), but it's possible the show could drop anytime after that. The latest issue of Total Film Magazine reported that the series would stream on October 13th; ScreenRant reached out to sources close to the project, and were told that this isn't the date Netflix has planned.
This might be an unusual marketing strategy for Marvel and Netflix, but it makes sense. The Punisher's brand has a strength beyond anything Marvel's made for the streaming giant so far. As comic book writer Nathan Edmondson once reflected after writing a popular Punisher run:
"The Punisher is perhaps the most ubiquitous comic character, world-wide. Soldiers wear him on their uniforms who haven’t read a comic in their lives; sex toys are nicknamed for him, racecars and wrestlers take on the skull or namesake, despite having little awareness of the actual comic... I have always liked The Punisher, the simplicity of the uncompromising death dealer; even his costume is simple, no-nonsense, fierce."
In cultural terms, the Punisher is a force to be reckoned with. Jon Bernthal's iteration of the character was an absolute triumph in Daredevil Season 2, and excitement couldn't be higher for the series. Given that's the case, the show probably doesn't need the typical marketing approach.
The November drop date never seemed likely anyway. The reality is that November is already a month jam-packed with Marvel releases both on the big and small screen. Alongside the theatrical release of Thor: Ragnarok, fans will also be eager to watch the tail-end of Inhumans, the launch of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, and even Hulu's Runaways! Adding The Punisher into the mix would potentially create a situation where the different Marvel shows could effectively compete against one another. Clearly, it's smarter to release the series before November.
#Marvel and #Netflix's approach is a fascinating one, not least because there's a subtle metanarrative to it. Teasers and trailers have stressed that dark forces are hunting the Punisher down, but so are viewers; we're desperately searching for any hint of when this eagerly-anticipated series will stream on Netflix!
When do you think 'The Punisher' will stream?