The Punisher
Punisher (TV series) logo.jpg
Genre
Created bySteve Lightfoot
Based on
Starring
ComposerTyler Bates
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26
Production
Executive producers
ProducerGail Barringer
Production locationNew York City
Cinematography
  • Bill Coleman
  • Manuel Billeter
  • Petr Hlinomaz
Editors
  • William Yeh
  • Russell Denove
  • Tirsa Hackshaw
Running time49–58 minutes
Production companies
DistributorNetflix Streaming Services
Release
Original networkNetflix
Original releaseNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17) –
January 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
Chronology
Related shows

Marvel's The Punisher is an American television series created by Steve Lightfoot for the streaming service Netflix, based on the Marvel Comics character Punisher. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), acknowledging the continuity of the franchise's films and other television series. It is a spin-off from the first Marvel Netflix series, Daredevil (2015–2018). The Punisher was produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios and Bohemian Risk Productions, with Lightfoot serving as showrunner.

Jon Bernthal reprises his role from Daredevil as Frank Castle / Punisher, a vigilante who uses lethal methods to fight crime. Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Jason R. Moore, and Deborah Ann Woll also star. They are joined by Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Daniel Webber, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, and Jaime Ray Newman in the first season, with Josh Stewart, Floriana Lima, and Giorgia Whigham joining for the second. 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 began by January 2016, and Netflix ordered the series that April when the involvement of Bernthal and Lightfoot was confirmed. The series explores the title character's grief and violence, and was filmed in New York City.

The first season was released in its entirety on Netflix on November 17, 2017, followed by the second on January 18, 2019. They were met with mixed reviews, but received several accolades including a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award nomination. Netflix cancelled The Punisher on February 18, 2019. All of the Marvel Netflix series were removed from Netflix on March 1, 2022, after Disney regained the license for them. They began streaming on Disney+ from March 16.

Premise

After exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his family,[a] the first season finds former Force Recon Marine Frank Castle, known throughout New York City as "the Punisher", uncovering a larger conspiracy beyond what was done to him and his family.[1] The second season sees Castle, who has been living a quiet life on the road, drawn into the mystery surrounding the attempted murder of Amy Bendix, forcing him to decide if he should embrace his life as the Punisher.[2]

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Introduced in season 1

Introduced in season 2

Guest

Introduced in season 1

NY1 anchors Pat Kiernan, Roma Torre, and Stacy-Ann Gooden cameo as themselves.

Introduced in season 2

Shooter Jennings, Ted Russell Kamp, James Douglass, John F. Schreffler Jr. and Aubrey Richmond all appear as themselves.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
113November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
213January 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)

Season 1 (2017)

Main article: The Punisher (season 1)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date [27]
11"3AM"Tom ShanklandSteve LightfootNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
22"Two Dead Men"Tom ShanklandSteve LightfootNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
33"Kandahar"Andy GoddardSteve LightfootNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
44"Resupply"Kari SkoglandDario ScardapaneNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
55"Gunner"Dearbhla WalshMichael Jones-MoralesNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
66"The Judas Goat"Jeremy WebbChristine BoylanNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
77"Crosshairs"Andy GoddardBruce Marshall RomansNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
88"Cold Steel"Antonio CamposFelicia D. HendersonNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
99"Front Toward Enemy"Marc JobstAngela LaMannaNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
1010"Virtue of the Vicious"Jim O'HanlonKen KristensenNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
1111"Danger Close"Kevin HooksFelicia D. HendersonNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
1212"Home"Jet WilkinsonDario ScardapaneNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)
1313"Memento Mori"Stephen SurjikSteve LightfootNovember 17, 2017 (2017-11-17)

Season 2 (2019)

Main article: The Punisher (season 2)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date [27]
141"Roadhouse Blues"Jim O'HanlonSteve LightfootJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
152"Fight or Flight"Jim O'HanlonSteve LightfootJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
163"Trouble the Water"Jeremy WebbKen KristensenJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
174"Scar Tissue"Iain B. MacDonaldAngela LaMannaJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
185"One-Eyed Jacks"Stacie PassonDario ScardapaneJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
196"Nakazat"Jamie M. DaggChristine BoylanJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
207"One Bad Day"Jet WilkinsonFelicia D. HendersonJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
218"My Brother's Keeper"Michael OfferBruce Marshall RomansJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
229"Flustercluck"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldSteve Lightfoot & Ken KristensenJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
2310"The Dark Hearts of Men"Alex Garcia LopezSteve Lightfoot & Angela LaMannaJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
2411"The Abyss"Meera MenonLaura Jean LealJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
2512"Collision Course"Stephen KayDario ScardapaneJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)
2613"The Whirlwind"Jeremy WebbSteve LightfootJanuary 18, 2019 (2019-01-18)

Production

See also: Production of season 1 and season 2

Development

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,[28] but by May 2012, the project had not moved forward.[29] A year later, the character's film rights reverted to Marvel from Lionsgate.[30] In June 2015, Jon Bernthal was announced as cast as Frank Castle in the second season of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix.[3] 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.[31]

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.[32][33][34] 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."[35] 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."[36]

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.[4][37] Loeb, Cindy Holland, and Jim Chory also serve as executive producers.[37][10] A second 13-episode season was ordered in December 2017.[38][39]

Writing

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."[8] Lightfoot was inspired by the Bourne film series and the film American Sniper when approaching the series.[16]

Casting

Bernthal promoting The Punisher at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
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,[3] and was confirmed to be reprising the role for the spin-off in April 2016.[4] That September, Ben Barnes was cast in the series in an unspecified series regular role.[12] The next month, set photos revealed that Deborah Ann Woll would reprise her Daredevil role as Karen Page,[17] while Barnes was announced as playing Billy Russo, and Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Amber Rose Revah also joined the series, as David Lieberman / Micro and Dinah Madani, respectively.[10][11] At New York Comic Con, Bernthal confirmed Woll as a co-star.[18] At the end of October, Marvel announced the additional casting of Daniel Webber as Lewis Wilson,[14][15] Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, Paul Schulze as William Rawlins, Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman, and Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein.[14]

For the second season, Bernthal, Barnes, Revah, Moore, and Woll all reprise their roles.[19][20] They are joined by Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, Floriana Lima as Krista Dumont, and Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix, who were cast in February 2018.[19] In May 2018, Corbin Bernsen and Annette O'Toole were announced as joining the cast as Anderson and Eliza Schultz, respectively.[40]

Filming

Filming for the series takes place in New York City, including Brooklyn,[41][18] and Astoria, Queens.[42]

Music

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.[43]

Release

The Punisher was released on the streaming service Netflix, worldwide.[10][44] The episodes for each season were released simultaneously, as opposed to a serialized format, to encourage binge-watching, a format which has been successful for other Netflix series.[45] Despite being branded as a "Netflix Original", The Punisher was licensed to Netflix from Disney.[46]

The Punisher was removed from Netflix on March 1, 2022, along with the other Marvel Netflix series, due to Netflix's license for the series ending and Disney regaining the rights.[47] Disney opted not to have Netflix pay a large licensing fee to retain the distribution rights for the series,[48] and instead announced that all the series would be made available on Disney+ on March 16 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and in Disney+'s other markets by the end of 2022.[49][50] In the United States, revised parental controls were introduced to the service to allow the more mature content of the series to be added, similarly to the controls that already exist for other regions that have the Star content hub.[51] The series' tribute to Stan Lee at the end of "The Whirlwind" was removed on Disney+.[52]

Reception

Critical response

Critical response of The Punisher
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
167% (79 reviews)[53]55 (20 reviews)[54]
261% (36 reviews)[55]58 (6 reviews)[56]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a 67% approval rating with an average rating of 6.7/10 based on 79 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."[53] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 55 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[54]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds a 61% approval rating with an average rating of 6.7/10 based on 36 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Punisher's second season leaves fans torn between the undeniably action-packed fun and the underwhelming portrayal of the charismatic Frank Castle."[55] On Metacritic, it was assigned a score of 58 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[56]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 IGN's Best of 2017 Awards Best Action Series The Punisher Nominated [57]
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Episodic Short Form – Effects / Foley "Memento Mori" Nominated [58]
Golden Trailer Awards Best Action (TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series) "The Punisher – Reflections" Nominated [59]
Best Graphics (in a TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series) "The Punisher – Reflections" Nominated [59]
Best Sound Editing (in a TV Spot / Trailer / Teaser for a series) "Family Man" Nominated [59]
Saturn Awards Best New Media Superhero Series The Punisher Won [60][61]
Best Actor on Television Jon Bernthal Nominated [60]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie Thom Williams Nominated [62]
2019 Saturn Awards Best Streaming Superhero Television Series The Punisher Nominated [63]
Best Actor in Streaming Presentation Jon Bernthal Nominated [63]

Cancellation and future

The series was canceled on February 18, 2019.[64] Prior to The Punisher's cancellation, Kevin A. Mayer, chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, noted that, while it had not yet been discussed, it was a possibility that Disney+ could revive the other cancelled Marvel Netflix series.[65] Hulu's senior vice president of originals Craig Erwich also said that the streaming service was open to reviving the former Netflix series.[66]

Notes

  1. ^ As seen in the second season of Daredevil.

References

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