Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have already seen plenty of the Punisher, perhaps the most violent superhero — or more accurately, super-anti-hero, in comic book history. Veteran actor Jon Bernthal (pictured above) appeared as the merciless vigilante character in the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix.
But starting sometime later this year — Netflix remains cagey about the exact release date — the Punisher gets his own solo series on the streaming titan. On Wednesday, which also happens to be Punisher star Bernthal’s 41st birthday, Netflix posted the first preview trailer for the upcoming series, titled Marvel’s The Punisher, online.
In what will come as no surprise at all to longtime fans of the Marvel Comics character on which the series is based, the trailer shows The Punisher to be not only the most violent Netflix Marvel series so far, but quite possibly the most brutal and bloody superhero TV show ever produced.
For those unfamiliar with the character, the Punisher is a vigilante killer who lacks the typical superhero’s moral prohibition against killing other human beings, even the most evil human beings. The Punisher, driven purely by an unadulterated lust for vengeance, slaughters his enemies at will, employing an arsenal of high-tech, high-powered firearms.
Watch the first Netflix preview trailer for Marvel’s The Punisher, below.
The Punisher was created in 1974 by Marvel Comics writer Gerry Conway, and artists John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru. Frank Castle made his debut appearance in issue No. 129 of The Amazing Spider-Man, dated in February of that year.
The character’s premise and basic motivation was simple: Frank Castle, a Vietnam veteran (the United States had just pulled its troops out of Vietnam in February of 1973) returns home to his family in New York City only to see his wife and kids horrifyingly murdered by the Mafia after they accidentally witness a mob hit.
Castle vows to get revenge in equally violent fashion, and not only on the mobsters who killed his family, but on any and all organized crime figures anywhere.
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The character wasn’t the most original creation. A 1968 pulp novel titled War Against The Mafia featured a nearly identical premise and a lead character, Mack Bolan, who also went by a colorfully violent nickname: The Executioner. The Bolan/Executioner character, created by author Don Pendleton, and his ongoing crusade to exterminate all mobsters proved so popular that the series ran through 1980, with 41 novels chronicling the Executioner’s adventures.
In a 2011 interview with the British fan site Sci-Fi Now, Conway acknowledged his debt to Pendleton’s character, as well as to similar vigilante-like characters who dominated pop culture in that early 1970s era when crime and corruption were high on the American anxiety meter.
“At that time there was a cultural movement in America with the [1974 movie] Death Wish phenomena, the vigilante character The Executioner, the Dirty Harry notion — the idea of the lone outsider striking against the system — and I thought it would be interesting if a character like that was manipulated into taking action against Spider-Man,” Conway said.
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The Netflix version of the Punisher is definitely not the first time the character has been brought to life on the screen — for better or worse.
Not one, not two, but three previous movies have told the tale of Frank Castle and his blood-soaked battle against crime: Swedish action star Dolph Lundgren played Castle in the 1989 film The Punisher; American actor Thomas Jane tried his hand at the character 15 years later in a 2004 film also titled The Punisher; and finally in 2008, Irish character actor Ray Stevenson gave the Frank Castle role his best shot in Punisher: War Zone.
[Featured Image by Joel Ryan/AP Images]