If you're one of the countless Marvel fans who are currently binging Daredevil Season 2, then by now you've seen Jon Bernthal's take on the Punisher! The Punisher is a classic Marvel antihero — but here are five facts you might not know...
1. The Punisher was introduced as an opponent for Spider-Man!
Frank Castle makes his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #129 — with #SpiderMan in his crosshairs! The reason is simple: at the time, Spider-Man was publicly blamed for the death of industrialist Norman Osborn (who, unknown to the world, had secretly been the Green Goblin). With the Wall-Crawler having apparently strayed from the straight-and-narrow, that made him a target for a new kind of antihero...
2. The Punisher was named by Stan Lee himself!
Creator Gerry Conway had originally put together the design for the character, but intended to call him the Assassin. It was Stan Lee himself who objected:
"Gerry Conway was writing a script and he wanted a character that would turn out to be a hero later on, and he came up with the name the Assassin. And I mentioned that I didn't think we could ever have a comic book where the hero would be called the Assassin, because there's just too much of a negative connotation to that word. And I remembered that, some time ago, I had had a relatively unimportant character ... [who] was one of [the cosmic antagonist] Galactus' robots, and I had called him the Punisher, and it seemed to me that that was a good name for the character Gerry wanted to write — so I said, 'Why not call him the Punisher?' And, since I was the editor, Gerry said, 'Okay.'"
Source: Alter Ego Magazine (104): 32, August 2011
3. The Punisher is most often seen working alongside – or against – other superheroes!
Let's be honest; it's no coincidence that the Punisher is making his entrance in Daredevil rather than in his own Netflix series. As creator Gerry Conway told SciFiNow:
"He was created to be an oppositional figure to superheroes. In a sense, he’s the worst impulse of the superhero, right? The superhero takes the law into his own hands, he sets himself up as above the law – or outside the law at the very least – so the Punisher is a madhouse mirror reflection of that. When you see him in a standalone story or – as they try to do in the movies – in a real world context, he doesn’t really he work. First of all you start making him more ‘realistic’, and once he starts getting more realistic, the immoral part of his actions starts taking on greater and greater weight, and it becomes harder and harder to see him as a potential sympathetic figure, or at least as a deluded figure that you can emphasise with."
In Conway's view, the best uses of the Punisher have placed him in contrast to other superheroes. He represents everything that the superhero could be, and reminds the superhero of the choices they could very easily make.
Antiheroes may be popular, but maybe Conway has a point; maybe the antihero is popular precisely because that trope can be played against the traditional hero.
4. The Punisher was on Captain America's side in the Civil War!
One of the most disturbing plots in the Civil War comic was that #CaptainAmerica wound up with some very uncomfortable allies — one of whom was the Punisher. Reluctant to work with the Punisher after years of opposition, Captain America couldn't turn anyone away; still, he insisted on a 'no killing' rule.
Naturally, the Punisher pushed the boundaries, and ultimately Captain America had to turn him away. In yet another disturbing twist, the Punisher briefly styled himself as the next Captain America..!
5. There's one person the Punisher couldn't handle — Wolverine's son, Daken!
During the 'Dark Reign' period, the Marvel Comics universe was in a seriously dark place. Norman Osborn had taken charge, and the supervillains were ascendant. Let's face it, that's just the kind of world to give the Punisher a lot of targets! No surprise, he soon wound up near the top of Norman Osborn's hit list, and Osborn sent Daken — Wolverine's son — after him.
The fight was possibly one of the most down-and-dirty brawls Marvel Comics have ever known, neither showing any restraint. Ultimately, though, it was Daken who emerged triumphant — and the Punisher was literally cut to pieces by Daken's claws, beheaded and eviscerated...
...Only to be found by a subterranean race and stitched together into FrankenCastle for a while, before finally being restored to normal human form. Yeah, comics.