The Punisher (TV series)

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The Punisher
The Punisher logo.jpeg
Genre
Created by Steve Lightfoot
Based on
Starring
Composer(s) Tyler Bates
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Cindy Holland
  • Jim Chory
  • Jeph Loeb
  • Steve Lightfoot
Location(s) New York City
Production company(s)
Distributor Netflix
Release
Original network Netflix
Original release November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
Chronology
Related shows

Marvel's The Punisher, or simply The Punisher, is an American web television series created for Netflix by Steve Lightfoot, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise, and is a spin-off of Marvel's Daredevil. The series is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios, with Lightfoot serving as showrunner.

The series revolves around Frank Castle, who uses lethal methods to fight crime as the vigilante "the Punisher", with Jon Bernthal reprising the role from Daredevil. Ben Barnes, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Amber Rose Revah, Deborah Ann Woll, Daniel Webber, Jason R. Moore, Paul Schulze, Jaime Ray Newman, and Michael Nathanson also star. A television series centered on the Punisher received a put-pilot commitment at Fox in 2011, but that project fell through. In June 2015, Bernthal was cast as the character to appear in the second season of Daredevil. Development on a spin-off titled The Punisher began by January 2016, before the second season of Daredevil was released. In April 2016, Marvel and Netflix ordered the series, confirmed Bernthal's involvement, and announced Lightfoot as executive producer and showrunner. Filming began in New York City in October 2016, and concluded in April 2017.

The Punisher premiered in New York City on November 6, 2017, with the full 13 episodes released on November 17 on Netflix.

Premise[edit]

Taking place over the course of six months after the events of Daredevil Season 2,Frank Castle, known throughout New York City as "the Punisher" after exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his family six months ago and faking his death, uncovers a larger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family.[1]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / Punisher:
    A vigilante who aims to fight the criminal underworld by any means necessary, no matter how lethal the results.[2][3] Daredevil season one showrunner Steven S. DeKnight said this version of Punisher would be "completely the Marvel version," as previous portrayals did not appear under the Marvel Studios / Marvel Television banner.[4] However, Bernthal did study all the previous portrayals, saying, "once you devour and eat up as much as you can, my way is to make it as personal as possible". Bernthal was particularly inspired by the 2012 short film Dirty Laundry starring Thomas Jane.[5] On how Castle resonates with him, Bernthal said, "He ain’t got a fucking cape. He ain’t got any superpowers. He’s a fucking tortured, angry father and husband who’s living in this unbelievable world of darkness and loss and torment."[6] Bernthal added that there would be "a military component" in the series since Castle is "a soldier... [The series] will be somewhat centered on that".[7] He also stated that "the character that was portrayed on Daredevil season two was sort of the origin tale of how this guy became the Punisher, why he put on the vest."[8] Bernthal noted he "always want[ed] to preserve the essence of" Castle, who Bernthal described as "brutal", "damaged" and "tortured", by exploring "the pain and what's behind the violence and the reason why he's committing the violence" that is "utterly satisfying and addictive for him".[9]
  • Ben Barnes as Billy Russo: Castle’s best friend from when he served in the United States Special Forces. Russo runs Anvil, a private military corporation.[10][11]
  • Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman / Micro:
    A former NSA analyst who assists Castle.[11][12] Regarding Micro's relationship with Castle, Moss-Bachrach said, "We have found ourselves with common enemies and it's a marriage of convenience." Moss-Bachrach also felt the comics version of the character was "a one-trick pony", supplying equipment to Castle, but that the character gets "interesting when their relationship gets bad" and hoped to explore that in the series.[8]
  • Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani:
    An Iranian-American Department of Homeland Security agent stationed in Afghanistan, who returns to New York City for an investigation that leads her to cross paths with Castle.[11][13] Revah noted that Madani "sees herself as American – that’s what her being is, that’s what she wants to protect, that’s why she does what she does." As Madani is not based on a character from the comics, Revah's "research was based more on Homeland and what it’s like for those people, and the logical processes the character would be going through. I think, for a lot of actors, if you’re playing someone from comics, you probably feel you have some sort of responsibility to represent this character in a light that reflects how they were represented in the comic books. Because I didn’t have that, it probably let me be more open in my representation." Revah spoke with actual Homeland officers as well as Iranian people "to make that [part of the character] authentic." A special shotgun was made for Revah to use, designed for her height and stature.[13]
  • Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page:
    A reporter at the New York Bulletin and Matt Murdock's former assistant, who befriended Castle after working on his case. Woll reprises her role from previous Marvel Netflix series.[14][15] Regarding Page's continuing relationship with Castle, Woll said, "Frank has a soft spot in Karen’s heart, and certainly with the dark history that Karen has, there are very few people she can share her authentic self with. Frank is someone who she could potentially fully open up to."[7] She added, "there's something about Frank where [Karen] doesn't have to be ashamed of her darkest, deepest side of herself. She gets to be more honest with him".[8]
  • Daniel Webber as Lewis Walcott: A young veteran struggling with his new life as a civilian.[16]
  • Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle: A friend of Castle, one of the few people who knows he is alive.[16]
  • Paul Schulze as Rawlins: A high-ranking member of the CIA who crosses paths with Castle due to their time in Afghanistan.[16]
  • Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman: Micro's wife.[16]
  • Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein: A Department of Homeland Security agent, Madani's partner.[16]
  • C. Thomas Howell as Carson Wolf: A Department of Homeland Security agent-in-charge, Madani's supervisor, who crosses paths with Micro, and then later Castle.

Recurring[edit]

Guest[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original release date
1 "3 AM" Tom Shankland Steve Lightfoot November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
2 "Two Dead Men" Tom Shankland Steve Lightfoot November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
3 "Kandahar" Andy Goddard Steve Lightfoot November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
4 "Resupply" Kari Skogland Dario Scardapane November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
5 "Gunner" Dearbhla Walsh Michael Jones-Morales November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
6 "The Judas Goat" Jeremy Webb Christine Boylan November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
7 "Crosshairs" Andy Goddard Bruce Marshall Romans November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
8 "Cold Steel" Antonio Campos Felicia D. Henderson November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
9 "Front Toward Enemy" Marc Jobst Angela LaManna November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
10 "Virtue of the Vicious" Jim O'Hanlon Ken Kristensen November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
11 "Danger Close" Kevin Hooks Felicia D. Henderson November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
12 "Home" Jet Wilkinson Dario Scardapane November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
13 "Memento Mori" Stephen Surjik Steve Lightfoot November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In October 2011, ABC Studios sold a script based on the Punisher to Fox, who gave the project a put-pilot commitment. The series would be an hour-long procedural following NYPD detective Frank Castle, "whose alter ego is that of a vigilante seeking justice for those failed by the court system." Ed Bernero was attached as executive producer,[21] but by May 2012, the project had not moved forward.[22] A year later, the character's film rights reverted to Marvel from Lionsgate.[23] In June 2015, Jon Bernthal was announced as cast as Frank Castle in the second season of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix.[2] The series was the first of several live action series provided to Netflix by Marvel Television and ABC Studios, with subsequent series featuring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all leading up to a miniseries based on the Defenders.[24]

By January 2016, ahead of the Daredevil season two release, Netflix was in "very early development" on a spin-off series titled The Punisher, and was looking for a showrunner. The series would be centered on Bernthal as Castle, and was described as a stand-alone series, outside of the series leading up to Marvel's The Defenders.[25][26][27] Head of Marvel Television and executive producer Jeph Loeb implied that Marvel Television had not instigated the development of the spin-off and were focusing on making "the best 13 episodes of Daredevil season two" at the time, but did say, "I’m never going to discourage a network from looking at one of our characters and encouraging us to do more ... If we are lucky enough that through the writing, through the direction, through the actor that people want to see more of that person, terrific."[28] Loeb stated a month later that the reports about the potential spin-off were "something that people are speculating on, as opposed to something that's actually happening."[29]

In April 2016, Netflix officially ordered a full 13 episode season of The Punisher, confirmed Bernthal's involvement, and named Steve Lightfoot as executive producer and showrunner.[3][30] Loeb, Cindy Holland, and Jim Chory also serve as executive producers.[30][11]

Writing[edit]

Lightfoot noted that "anti-heroes with dark pasts, that are morally grey, are always interesting to write." On deciding to work on The Punisher, Lightfoot stated, "I was drawn to a guy who is dealing with grief - how does he do that?... We talked a lot as we developed the show that once you take hold of the hand of violence it's impossible to let it go. That relationship to violence really interested me, not just the fact he has the ability to use it but also the cost of it." Bernthal stated the series would be "loose with chronology" for the character, depicting events before and after the events of Daredevil season two.[8]

Casting[edit]

Bernthal promoting The Punisher at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con

Bernthal had been cast as Castle in June 2015 to appear in the second season of Daredevil,[2] and was confirmed to be reprising the role for the spin-off in April 2016.[3] That September, Ben Barnes was cast in the series in an unspecified series regular role.[10] The next month, set photos revealed that Deborah Ann Woll would reprise her Daredevil role as Karen Page,[14] Barnes was announced as playing Billy Russo, while Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Amber Rose Revah also joined the series, as David Lieberman / Micro and Dinah Madani, respectively.[11][12] At New York Comic Con, Bernthal confirmed Woll as a co-star.[15] At the end of October, Marvel announced the additional casting of Daniel Webber as Lewis Walcott, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, Paul Schulze as Rawlins, Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman, and Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein.[16]

In August 2017, Shohreh Aghdashloo was revealed to be portraying Farah Madani, Dinah's mother, in a recurring role for the series.[17] Rob Morgan reprises his role from previous Marvel Netflix series as Turk Barrett.[20]

Filming[edit]

Filming began on October 3, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York,[31][15] under the working title Crime.[32] Additional filming took place in Astoria, Queens in December 2016.[33] Filming wrapped on April 9, 2017.[34]

Music[edit]

In April 2017, Tyler Bates was announced as the composer for The Punisher, after previously composing for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.[35] In order to "get into the dark corners of the Punisher’s mind," Bates played "more of a broken blues" guitar, which was augmented with talkbox effects and other "guitar noises", along with guitar-vol and melodica. On this style, Bates said, "The rough edges and broken nature of [music like this] leaves a great deal of space for emotion and interesting color – and a bit of an attitude. Otherwise it’s not going to be an authentic expression of the idea. There’s a darkness in there that I’m happy to tap into."[36]

Release[edit]

The Punisher was released on November 17, 2017 on the streaming service Netflix, worldwide.[11][37] The 13 hour-long episodes will be released simultaneously, as opposed to a serialized format, to encourage binge-watching, a format which has been successful for other Netflix series.[38][30] In July 2016, Netflix COO Ted Sarandos stated that The Punisher would not debut until 2018 at the earliest, after The Defenders released on August 18, 2017,[39][40] but that October, Marvel confirmed a 2017 release instead.[11]

In early September 2017, Dominic Patten and Denise Petski of Deadline.com commented on the lack of specific release date for the series at the time, calling it "an unusual", "rare move for Marvel and Netflix, who usually give a lot of lead-up to the launch of the high profile and much anticipated series." The pair felt with the increased marketing of the series, it would release "sooner rather than later".[1] Allison Keene of Collider felt Marvel and Netflix holding back the release date was "really weird and unnecessary... If you're excited for this show, you'll watch it whenever it appears. For TV editors who have to plan reviews and other content, it's just irritating."[41] Polygon's Susana Polo felt Marvel and Netflix were waiting for their scheduled panel at New York Comic Con 2017 during the first weekend of October to reveal the series' release date, as the convention had been used in previous years to reveal "breaking fall Marvel/Netflix news".[42] It was reported that Netflix had been planning a surprise "drop" release of the series in mid-October 2017,[43][44] mimicking a strategy from the music industry where an artist's album is released "with little or no fanfare", after their panel at New York Comic Con 2017, but decided to delay the release to later in 2017 after the Las Vegas shooting and subsequently cancelling the panel.[44] Two weeks later, the November 17 release was announced.[37]

Regarding the decisions made concerning the New York Comic Con panel and the series' release, Loeb said that they were made "specifically because it was a week after a horrible, horrible incident. It hasn’t changed the television series, the show is not predominantly about gun violence, and in fact it shows you the problems that occur in that world."[45] Bernthal felt delaying the release of the series "was the right decision" out of respect for the victims. Between the delaying of the series due to the Vegas shooting until the November 17 release, the U.S. experienced another mass shooting with the Sutherland Springs church shooting. Bernthal hoped that after these two shootings and the release of the series, it would help further the discussion on gun violence, with "all sides of this debate" represented in The Punisher.[46]

Marketing[edit]

Bernthal and Woll appeared at New York Comic Con in October 2016 to officially announce the start of production on the series and the latter's involvement.[15] At San Diego Comic-Con International 2017, Bernthal presented exclusive footage.[47] A teaser was revealed on Netflix in August 2017, appearing after the credits of the final episode of The Defenders.[48] Also in the month, the series' Twitter account revealed the episode titles as Morse code messages.[49] In September 2017, the series' Instagram account released viral videos made to look like security footage,[50] while episodic photos and a poster for the series with a redacted release date were also released.[1] On September 20, the official trailer for the series was released. Andrew Liptak of The Verge noted the trailer "sets up The Punisher with its own distinct tone that’s different from the other Marvel Netflix shows. It wades into government conspiracies and hacking, which is reminiscent of shows like CBS's Person of Interest or USA's Mr. Robot, but with more gunfire."[51] Nerdist's Kendall Ashley called the trailer "intense, super bloody, and has [me] INCREDIBLY pumped for the show’s premiere." She added, "The hype is huge for this show. If this trailer is any indication, The Punisher is definitely going to live up to fan expectations, and is going to be an intense and awesome addition to the Marvel Netflix universe." Ashley felt the inclusion of "One" by Metallica in the trailer "helps paint Frank as a badass unlike any we’ve seen on the Marvel Netflix shows so far."[52] Cooper Hood, writing for Screen Rant felt that, even though the series was still without a release date, the trailer would "undoubtedly only increase the fever for The Punisher." He continued that "unlike some of the more cryptic and quiet [marketing] videos that have come before," the trailer "especially fits the mold of Punisher. While it looked like at the beginning of the trailer that this one would again be a quieter piece of marketing, it turned out to be anything but. The trailer is stylish and well-cut to the beat of the song, with the choice of "One" only further amplifying the intensity."[53]

By the end of September, Netflix had updated their viral website for the New York Bulletin to include a profile page for Karen Page. After revealing her login credentials in a post on Daredevil's Facebook page, readers who visited Page's profile found images within folders titled "Research", "Trial" and "Evidence". The images referenced events and Page's research into Castle from the second season of Daredevil.[54] Bernthal and other members of the cast were scheduled to appear at New York Comic Con 2017 to promote the series,[55] but the panel was cancelled after the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting.[43] Two weeks later, a second trailer was released, that revealed the series' release date of November 17, 2017. Tom Philip writing for GQ was not very enthused with the trailer, saying it was, "hard to get super jazzed about another gritty, ultra-violent, gun-loving, non-superhero show right now." He was critical of the "utilitarian-sounding writing" in the trailer, but felt the chemistry between Bernthal and Woll would be a reason to watch The Punisher. Philip also felt the addition of Moss-Bachrach was "curious, but at least it's a swing for the fences from a TV studio that tends to play it astoundingly safe."[56] Scott Mendelson of Forbes noted that the gun violence sequences featured were mainly "flashbacks with military men doing military things in full fatigues or scenes of bad guys shooting at not-so-bad guys with heavy gunfire", which was a strong contrast to the first trailer. Mendelson felt this shift in the marketing strategy could have been in response to the Las Vegas shootings.[57] TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington agreed with Mendelson, noting how the trailer "plays up Castle’s motivations and the more human side of the story", while still looking "gritty and dark, [and] Bernthal’s portrayal looking as strong as ever." Etherington did also criticize the soundtrack of the trailer.[58] The Punisher had its red carpet premiere on November 6, 2017, in New York City at the 34th Street AMC Loews theatre.[59]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 67% approval rating with an average rating of 6.66/10 based on 36 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "A rocky start can't keep The Punisher from pushing the boundaries of Marvel's TV universe with a fresh take on the comics-derived action thriller."[60] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 58 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". IMDB currently rate The Punisher (TV Series) as a 9.5/10.[61]

References[edit]

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