Despite being one of the few major Marvel characters without powers -- and an anti-hero to boot -- Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, gained a strong following ever since his debut as a Spider-Man villain. One of Castle's more popular fans is Guardians of the Galaxy's Star-Lord himself, Chris Pratt. The actor revealed in an interview for The Magnificent Seven that not only was the Punisher his favorite childhood Marvel hero, but if Marvel's stories were up to him, Star-Lord and the Punisher would cross paths.
It’d be awesome – I would like Peter Quill to meet the Punisher. He’s not in the movies, but if I’m talking Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think it’d be cool for Peter Quill. Punisher was my favorite growing up so that’d be cool for me to meet him.
The polarized personalities of the two characters make their crossover highly unlikely, but it's worth imagining the shell-shocked Frank Castle dealing with Peter Quill's smarmy attitude, if only for a good laugh. As weird as the potential crossover may be, it's just Chris Pratt thinking out loud. The same could not be said for these infamous published stories that dropped the Punisher into some of the last places anyone would expect to find a soldier.
Punishing The Wrong People
Chris Pratt's wishful thinking featuring his iconic spacefaring role may seem outlandish, but it's tame when compared to the actual crossovers the Punisher had to deal with. On two separate occasions, the murderous vigilante known for the skull insignia on his shirt almost killed the lovable high-school doofus Archie and rap legend Eminem.
In Archie Meets Punisher, the Punisher mistook Archie for a drug dealer known as "Red" while in Eminem/Punisher, he nearly killed Eminem in the crossfire when he gunned down the rapper's traitorous bodyguards hired by Barracuda. These arcs ignored the Punisher's military history and experience in crime fighting, all in favor of hi-jinks and letting the guest stars save the day more than once. At the very least, these non-canon stories provided a good source of comedy given just how absurd their premises were.
The Punisher's methods are straightforward: he's a vigilante who shoots criminals and evil doers in the face. Which is why it made so much sense to turn him into a Todd McFarlane-style angel of death to fight supernatural threats that would feel at home in a Hellblazer graphic novel.
In the miniseries Punisher: Purgatory, Frank Castle is chosen by heaven to be its Grim Reaper after he commits suicide. Armed with guns blessed/cursed by god himself and with the angelic powers that granted him a second life, Frank Castle is sent back to the mortal world to purge it of demons. The arc was so poorly received that it dragged the titular character into obscurity for years until Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon salvaged him in the Punisher's famous reboot: Welcome Back, Frank.
Punishment From Beyond
It seems that whenever writers don't know what to do with Frank Castle, they kill the character before jumping the shark and doing something crazy to him. Enter Franken-Castle, where the Punisher gets killed off (again) only to come back as a monster ripped out of a B-horror movie from the '60s.
After losing a brutal fight to Wolverine's evil son Daken, the Punisher's mangled corpse was acquired by Morbius the Living Vampire. Through the powers of science and black magic, Morbius returns life to Frank Castle, in a form similar to Frankenstein's monster. His name? Franken-Castle. For the rest of the arc, Franken-Castle defends Marvel's monsters and defeats Daken in multiple brutal ways. This jarring change was short-lived and the arc's end saw Franken-Castle returning to his mortal self and regular life of shooting human criminals in the face.
Punisher: The Manga
The anime and manga craze was at the height of its popularity in the early 2000s. Everyone wanted to replicate the success of the Japanese storytelling medium, and American comics were among those hit by the bug. Marvel comics' answer was the Marvel Mangaverse: the home of strange anime-styled characters such as the Avengers' own giant mech, called the Ultimate Iron Man, and underage versions of almost every single Marvel superhero.
In the Mangaverse, the Punisher is re-imagined as Sosumi Brown - a private school principal who is a crime fighting geisha by night. Unlike the Punisher fans are used to, Sosumi exercises her vigilante justice by submitting criminals to unconventional types of punishment like tickling, spanking and whipping. Doing so earned Sosumi the title of "Tokyo's Kinkiest Superhero." This take on the Punisher seemingly influenced by the author's repressed kinks only lasted one issue in the Mangaverse, and thankfully has not been seen ever since.
Social Justice Punisher
As crazy as the previous stories may be, none of them were as accidentally offensive as Punisher's three part crossover with Luke Cage seen during the '90s. What was supposed to be a well-meaning message about racism turned out to be one of the most infamous Marvel stories ever printed that the company wishes it could forget.
After surviving severe facial injuries inflicted by Jigsaw, the Punisher wakes up on an operating table to find himself transformed into a black man thanks to a nonsensical medical mishap. He then joins Luke Cage in a drug busting escapade where they face a plethora of walking and talking stereotypes. From a ghetto filed with criminals to Luke Cage talking like the rapper Flava Flav, the crossover dubbed by readers as "Black Punisher" resembled a Blaxploitation film written by someone whose knowledge of black people is based on movies like Shaft. It may be coming from a good place, but "Black Punisher" was an ill-advised commentary at best that relied on stereotypes to teach a heavy handed lesson rather than using real life experiences and subtlety to do so.