How do you take the most hyped-up and exciting new character in the Marvel Netflix super hero universe who has comic book fans and military/gun aficionados going bonkers waiting for a spin-off solo show putting his brand of take-no-prisoners, hyper-violent vigilante justice and totally and completely shit the fucking bed with it?
Start by reducing what was Daredevil season 2’s best, most action packed and talked about character, The Punisher, back down to just a guy named Frank who wears a hoodie and has a hard time making eye contact.
DDS2 so perfectly told Frank Castle’s back-story, all the way up to giving him his iconic white-skull chest costume, that a spin-off show was a no brainer. Everything was right there. All you had to do was write him some compelling villains, some pot-boiler plots, and let Jon Bernthal act his ass off while shooting every last motherfucker in the room.
The episode of DDS2 where Frank goes to jail, meets Kingpin and pounds his way through a couple of dozen inmates is one of the coolest episodes of comic book TV ever.
In fact, Daredevil remains the only consistently GOOD Marvel Netflix show. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage wear their liberal progressive agendas on their sleeve while presenting snoozefest stories of, you guessed it, super heroes wearing hoodies talking really seriously to each other sprinkled, almost begrudgingly with several short minutes of action scenes.
The SJW Marvel crowd so thoroughly took a shit on the WHITE MALE LEAD in Iron Fist, laughably calling for the show to change the character’s ethnicity because reasons, that it’s clear who Marvel Netflix is aiming these shows at.
These three shows are so awful, I didn’t even bother watching their cross-over event season THE DEFENDERS and it doesn’t seem like anybody else did either because there is not one single reference to them in the entire first season of The Punisher.
Which gets us back to where we started. Frank Castle. The Punisher. Double-crossed by the CIAFBIDHS, basically the entire big bad US government, run by WHITE MEN with the sole purpose of lying, cheating, stealing and killing their way into becoming corrupt millionaires.
They killed his family. We saw all this in DDS2 and thankfully, they do not rehash those events. Frank is the Punisher in the first episode. We get an AWESOME montage of him murking every last person involved in the death of his family. Then he burns his Punisher vest and retires to a quiet life of beating the shit out of concrete walls with a sledge hammer day and night for presumably a cash-under-the-table construction gig.
This episode is bizarre because it seems like they shot it as a pilot pitch to a network, even though the character was firmly established as a huge hit with its audience. The entire episode is a stand-alone. There are characters who are never seen or referenced again, as though there was a chance that the network would pass on the show, so they didn’t want to get too deep into the plot right away.
And that shows one of the Netflix binge-show formula’s biggest weaknesses. The pilot of the Punisher is fucking amazing. It’s a slow burn, shot and edited to build the suspense right up until the moment Tom Waits’ “Hell Broke Luce” pounds out of the speakers and Frank starts beating the shit out of dudes with a sledge hammer. Ruthless. Violent. Unforgiving. The Punisher.
And that’s it. The end. A one hour, fully realized story. A one-shot comic book, if you will. In its glory days, network television would produce a couple of dozen stories like these for its TV shows every season. Some a half hour, some an hour. Then episodic TV fell out of fashion sometime shortly before LOST became all the rage and now 99% of shows use the serial format.
Which can be great. But in the case of Netflix shows, since the service is able to analyze its viewers’ habits down to the millisecond, they’ve decided to write specialized serials built around the concept of “binge watching.”
Some clowns sit at home and manage to smash out a 12 hour TV show in 10 hours. I’ll barely be a quarter of the way through a new Netflix show when assholes will start posting spoilers online for the season ender. It’s absurd how quickly people burn through these shows.
And as such, Netflix paces its shows for this obnoxious habit. In essence, what that means is, Frank Castle and “Micro” (maybe the worst name for a sidekick since Robin) can sit in the same set-piece and talk hour after hour after hour in what is ostensibly marketed as an action thriller show.
Don’t get me wrong, there is action, but the pacing between endless dialogue scenes and the little bit of violence and gun fighting sprinkled throughout is so wonky for people like me who tend to watch one episode every few days. If you cram 12 hours of TV into 10 hours, it doesn’t seem like that three to four hours in the middle drags too badly.
You were zoned out scrolling Facebook laughing at memes for those 4 hours anyway. For people like me, that’s almost an entire week of viewing. And it fucking sucks.
Look, I’m already way further into this review than I have any right to be without ever even touching on a single plot point in The Punisher season 1. Suffice to say, this show takes an enormous leap backward with the character, makes every aspect of the US government out to be evil and tyrannical just by virtue of existing, (except for the one non-white Mary Sue FBI agent girl who can out-smart, out-drive, out-fight and out-shoot every male character on the show) and gives every ex-military character either PTSD or a villainy motivation.
But without a doubt the WORST part of Netflix’s The Punisher? The main baddy ends up being a 25 year old war vet with PTSD who becomes a bomb-making domestic terrorist the likes of which the United States hasn’t seen since Timothy Mcveigh.
That’s right, Netflix takes a page right out of the batshit crazy alt-left’s handbook and digs up a 1990s boogieman with which to scare its viewers. THE EVIL WHITE “PATRIOT” IS COMING TO GET YOU!
America is bad OK? And The Punisher TV show is worse.
I DGAF if that storyline was lifted right off the page of a 90s run of Punisher comics and is panel for panel faithful to the source material. It’s insulting in the current year while the Western world is being bombed and terrorized weekly by Muslim psychos. Now ain’t the time nor the place to write a “US soldiers are terrorists” story line.
In the end, as much as I absolutely love this character and the Jon Bernthal casting, I have to give this piece of SJW lefty crap 2 out of 5 Strangeheads for pushing their tired binge-formula and unpopular liberal agenda instead of delivering an apologetically violent, merciless and exciting Punisher TV show.