We live in the Golden Age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: a time when Marvel properties are being made into movies as quickly as we can hope for them. For the first time, I can hold out hope that there may be Darkhawk, Darkhold, or Midnight Sons movies. But there’s one Marvel Comics property that’s gotten the silver screen treatment three times now… and no, I don’t mean the Fantastic Four, although there’s a funny analogy to be made there. No, I’m talking about The Punisher.
I’m not sure why the studio wasn’t happy with the 2004 movie, I thought it was really quite good. But for whatever reason, they decided to reboot with Punisher: War Zone… and we know what happened there. And if you don’t, take my word for it: it was all kindsa fucked up. Seriously, don’t go watch it. It was really, really bad.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Punisher only has one good solo story in him: his origin. And here to prove my point is a weird, weird 1995 one-shot story called The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe.
This is an alternate universe story by now-legendary Punisher scribe Garth Ennis, which basically operates under the following premise: what if instead of his family being killed by mobsters, they’d been killed by superheroes?
What follows is page after page of The Punisher shamelessly mowing down all our favorite comic-book heroes. Every. Last. One. Bang. Bang. Bang. The last one to survive is Daredevil, lord only knows how. I mean, Daredevil has always been resourceful, and I suppose he could have just avoided putting on the tights whenever Castle was around… but come on, let’s be real here.
After finally killing Daredevil, Punisher takes one final life: his own.
I really didn’t enjoy this. I don’t enjoy killing for killing’s sake in my entertainment, and I feel like that’s what this is. And worse yet, it’s killing my childhood icons. It’d be like a 64-page comic in which The Punisher tracks and kills Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Gummi Bears. It’d be traumatizing. To me, at least.
And I reject the premise. Frank Castle was a moral man who knew the difference between good and evil and was driven to do something about that evil when his family was killed by the mob and the justice system did nothing. You can look back at the original origin issues and see this: it wasn’t just their murder, it was that the justice system did nothing about it. This was even touched on in the 2004 movie, when he comes back and confronts his former allies in the police department. Yet people often forget this.
If Castle’s family had been killed by superheroes the legal system we’ve seen at play over and over again in the Marvel Universe would have lost it’s damn mind. Frank would have ended up a senator like Robert Kelly or a field-reporter and editorialist for the Daily Bugle or something. He would not have taken the exact same career path, simply with a different goal in mind.
I reject this almost on every level.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“I reject this almost on every level.”