Marvel’s The Punisher is easily one of the most anticipated shows for comic book fans everywhere.
Set to premiere at some point this year, the release was delayed after the tragic Las Vegas shooting by Stephen Paddock earlier this month. Marvel and Netflix pulled the show’s panel from New York Comic Con and released a joint statement which said:
“We are stunned and saddened by this week’s senseless act in Las Vegas. After careful consideration, Netflix and Marvel have decided it wouldn’t be appropriate for Marvel’s The Punisher to participate in New York Comic Con. Our thoughts continue to be with the victims and those affected by this tragedy.”
Not a bad move, exactly. However, a new article over at io9 suggests that there is no right time to release The Punisher series.
Netflix and Marvel made the right decision a few weeks ago when the companies decided to cancel The Punisher panel at New York Comic Con in the wake of the October 1 shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and 489 others wounded. The timing would have been beyond offensive, which raises the question: When can they release their show about a superhero who shoots people?
Okay, well, not so bad, aside from the fact that The Punisher isn’t a superhero. It’s the next part that goes into the type of territory that will make you question if what you read was actually serious:
…Though he’s most often framed as a complicated antihero who abides by a personal code that defines his sense of justice, the Punisher is Marvel’s equivalent to a mass shooter. While his depictions in various comic books, television shows, and movies make a point of elevating Castle’s sense of morality to gel with the idea of him being a hero, it’s impossible not to see how he’s also a celebration of the kind of gun culture that makes actual mass shootings possible.
It then immediately becomes clear that the author of the article doesn’t actually know a lot about The Punisher:
Stephen Paddock was not Frank Castle, and to suggest that Paddock was inspired by the character is unfair, but the two do exist in a larger conversation with one another that’s important to suss out. Like Paddock, at the end of the day the Punisher is just a man with a lot of guns (and gun knowledge).
Okay, so apparently Frank Castle is just a man with a lot of guns. On the outside looking in, I could see why someone who doesn’t know much about the character would think that.
The piece later suggests there’s a parallel between “proper gun regulation” and a character like Frank Castle:
The sad truth of the matter is that there will be more shootings like the one in Vegas because we live in a country that refuses to implement proper gun regulation, and Frank Castle is the embodiment of the danger that a lack of gun regulation poses to society. The next time someone decides to leave their house and murder people using a semi-automatic weapon, Marvel and Netflix will once again be put in the difficult position of having to justify their decision to go forward with a series glorifying gun violence.
So what should Marvel do, exactly?
Maybe Frank Castle’s solo TV series is looking to do the same—to establish him not as the MCU’s newest vigilante, but instead as a man who finds the ability to heal from his trauma without shooting up a city in the process.
“Shooting up a city” would be a very misleading thing to say, but then again, look at the rest of this article. Frank Castle doesn’t just go and “shoot up cities” – everything he does has a plan. That’s not to say that the plan is the right one, but let’s at least be right when talking about the character himself.
Saying something like that and then comparing him to Stephen Paddock would suggest that Frank Castle is just targeting people at random because he wants to shoot a place up for the hell of it, when that isn’t the case. Paddock would be one of Frank’s enemies.
Saying that there’s a connection between The Punisher and mass shootings would be like suggesting that any time someone is beaten up in the streets, we need to blame Daredevil or Batman for promoting this kind of behavior.
I could re-write the paragraph from the article referenced above to say “Batman could heal from the trauma of his lost parents without beating up an entire city” or “Daredevil could heal from his trauma without brutally beating up an entire city” and it would sound like I’m saying that Batman and Daredevil don’t have a purpose, they’re just beating people up for no reason.
The Punisher is actually just a more intense version of Daredevil (you’re only one bad day away from being me) or Batman, to put it correctly. He wants to stop the same type of people that Daredevil and Batman want to stop – he just wants to put a stop to them for good.
Whether or not that’s the right way to go about it is up for debate.
Popular opinion, however, suggests that Batman is one of the most popular and beloved characters ever, and people view him as a hero. Should we criticize Warner Bros. when they release The Batman since it technically promotes violence? Should they think twice before releasing it?
By this logic, wouldn’t Batman and Daredevil be the embodiment of physical assault? Since they technically beat people up (nearly to death sometimes)?
Theoretically, you could say that The Avengers actually cause more damage than when Frank Castle shooting bad guys. All of the destruction caused in The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and deaths that would actually happen in the process of those long drawn out battles – and not ONE person complaining that we need to ban The Avengers for promoting destruction? Where’s the silly editorial on that?
Where you lie on whether or not what Frank Castle’s character does or where you stand on gun control isn’t the point here. The point is that to make such a dramatic comparison should be done so with actual logic and not opinions.
Delaying the show is understandable – but never releasing it? If The Punisher shouldn’t be released – should anything with violence and guns be released? I’ll let you decide.
We reached out to Frank Castle for his thoughts, but he didn’t respond for comment. It may or may not have something to with the fact that he’s an imaginary character that doesn’t actually exist. Unless, of course, you think he existed through Stephen Paddock.