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YMMV / The Punisher

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  • Adorkable: The Russian is an evil example. Affectionate towards his allies/friends, wants to get "lots of Levis and CD's" with a million dollar reward, and is openly a fan of GOOD superheroes (Mighty Thor Good Communist, with that Big Hammer of his!).
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Frank is usually treated as an absolute moralist who just happens to be fighting a never ending war on crime. Other interpretations imply he's just as bad as the monsters he fights and is little different from a serial killer. The only thing that stays the same is the reason why he became the Punisher.
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    • Punisher: Year One has yet another take on Frank's character - he goes vigilante only after all other methods of bringing the mobsters who killed his family to justice fail spectacularly (the police are ineffective and corrupt; an attempt to do an independent investigation leads only to the death of the reporter whom Frank briefly befriended).
    • Punisher: Born from MAX imprint has a different take on WHY he became the Punisher. Frank fell in love with killing and made a deal with an unknown supernatural entity (or just plainly went mad, you choose) to fight a war that would last forever. He wasn't informed until later that the price would be his family, at which point the supernatural entity makes Frank forget that they ever made the deal.
  • Audience-Alienating Era: See the Marvel Comics page.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
  • Catharsis Factor: Let's face it, you want to see the Punisher take down depraved, criminal baddies and act like a badass.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Any Punisher fan is likely to envision the voice of Thomas Jane or Jon Bernthal when reading the comics.
  • Cliché Storm: One story takes place in Scotland, with the requisite haunted castles, bagpipes, haggis, football fans, and miserly locals all making an appearance.
  • "Common Knowledge": No, Jigsaw was not in any way responsible for what happened to the Punisher's family. The only time that was said to be the case was in the Ostrander run, where it was very clearly just a Series Continuity Error that is completely nonsensical under any amount of scrutiny, but the belief that Jigsaw somehow killed the Castles persists due that story, and possible conflation with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: After Frank Castle killed third-string villain Stilt Man (with a bazooka shot to the groin no less) a group of other less notable Spider-Man villains held a memorial for their fallen colleague at a local bar. Frank made sure they were all there, then blew up the bar.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Punisher comics are often accused of tacitly endorsing murderous vigilantism, especially since the mid-2010's as various social and political developments made people increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of an armed man roaming the streets as self-appointed Judge, Jury, and Executioner, and more importantly learned how actual law enforcement respond to Frank and his brutal methods. Marvel have tried to defend themselves from this by claiming that Frank is depicted as a deeply flawed man who should not be admired or emulated, with the character stating In-Universe that nobody should follow his example and rejects anyone inspired by him. However, even in his most morally dubious incarnations, Frank is a badass Action Hero with a Sympathetic P.O.V. killing the most vile people imaginable, so it's a little hard to argue that readers aren't supposed to think he's awesome and wish they could be like him.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Mafia Princess Rosalie Carbone, who's often shown in a bikini or her underwear.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Rosalie Carbone has some fans who believe this due to the Disney Villain Death nature of her fate (not to mention its suddenness and lack of major impact).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Remember the gun that shoots swords? Borderlands 2 would later make such a weapon (also, the swords explode, into three smaller swords that also explode).
  • Ho Yay:
    • Frank and Microchip would come off like an old married couple sometimes. In some issues, Micro would even use the word "bubbelah" (Yiddish for "darling") when talking to Frank.
      Punisher: Up for thirty-six hours watching a crack lab, and Micro calls me with a grocery list on the way home. Sometimes having Microchip is like having a wife.
    • The most overt instance of this probably the first issue of War Zone, where Frank and Micro bickering over Micro sneaking off to see a therapist comes off like a couple cracking up due to one member uncovering another's infidelity.
      Microchip: ¢%$#! I don't need this, I'm going out.
      Punisher: Where? I might need you later.
      Microchip: Just out. *¢%, we're not married, Frank.
    • Franken-Castle's fight with Daken was filled with homoerotic banter.
    • Frank's idolization of Captain America can also come off as this.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Gerry Conway has stated he's uncomfortable with how popular the Punisher is with members of the American military and law-enforcement, as he is very anti-war and anti-authoritarian as well as missing the point of a vigilante. He intended for the Punisher to be a tragic anti-hero with ambiguous and sympathetic traits but as primarily an example of the failure of America's military and legal systems:
      "The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system. They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol...My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he's also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal's symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law."
    • An in-universe version happens when Frank meets a group of fanboy cops who actually did put his skull on their car. Frank rips it up, and tells them that nobody should be like him and if they want a role model, Captain America is always around.
    • Discussion amongst comic professionals and fandom is also starting to highlight the use of the Punisher skull amongst some factions of politically violent militias in the United States, even though Frank himself has never expressed sympathies with any of those ideologies. Garth Ennis, who wrote the very violent The Punisher MAX amongst other Punisher series, condemned the misuse of the skull quite harshly, but there have been requests aimed at Marvel to redesign the skull, reaffirm Frank's condemnation of militia violence, or just retire the Punisher entirely. For a while, Marvel used the character and the logo nonetheless; however, it was revealed in late 2021 that the Punisher's skull was changed, likely to distance the comic from these groups.
  • My Real Daddy: He's had a few writers over the years who have done well with the character, though the ones that most readers will think of are Steven Grant, Mike Baron, Chuck Dixon, and Garth Ennis.
  • Never Live It Down: Seeing that the writers never bothered to fix Castles background after Secret Empire. In-Universe, Frank will always be remembered as someone who joined Hydra, and him trying to atone for what he did by hunting down every Hydra agents and yet Heroes keep undermining him from doing so.
  • Sequel Displacement: While Frank was one of Marvel's cash cows back in the early nineties (alongside Spider-Man and Wolverine), many of his modern fans know nothing about his stories before Ennis. Sadly this means that a lot of his gentler characterizations are overlooked, as well as the fact that he actually did have something of a supporting cast.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Which is what a lot of fans said of Angelic Punisher.
    • Many people feared the worst at the announcement of Franken-Castle. Surprisingly, the change was relatively popular, brief as it was.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Carlos Cruz who has some interesting skill and backstory and is molded by Microchip to try and replace Frank, is in the series for a disappointingly short time and only has one significant fight with Frank, when their feud could have been dragged out for longer and/or eventually made way to an easy truce.
    • Rosalie Carbone, during the Jon Ostrander run. A somewhat long-running, decently layered villainess who still wants Frank dead at a time when he's in a position of unprecedented strength and is also revealed to have some history with the Punisher's erstwhile allies the Geraci's, this could have been expanded as a notable subplot but is only in one issue of that arc.
    • Stuart Clarke's job as Microchip's replacement and a former super villain feels like it could have been explored for a lot longer and given both him and the Punisher positive development under the right circumstances.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The Punisher came into his own during the decade of the crack epidemic, Bernie Goetz, David Dinkins, and John Gotti. Metaphorically speaking, he's never left.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: He doesn't exactly win popularity contests in the Marvel Universe. Villains hate him since he spends all his time slaughtering them, while other heroes hate him for how much of a ruthless, violent psycho he is, and the few times they do work with him it's going to be strained at best. But for readers he's a fan favorite, due to him slaughtering creeps who have it coming, his status as one of the most Badass Normal characters in Marvel history, and how even when he's written at his most sociopathic he isn't above some acts of compassion.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Punisher fights against common and grounded criminals (kidnappers, narcos, drug dealers, mafias, rapists, serial killers, and the like) more often than against supervillains with weird superpowers. The Punisher MAX is in fact strictly set in such circumstances, with other superheroes and supervillains being virtually absent. Punisher often kills those criminals, with no remorse and extreme prejudice. This made him popular among people who support hard-line policies against crime, and even far-right extremists. The comic, however, is devoid of such political content: the actions of Punisher are shown as just the actions of Punisher alone, a single vigilante, and never try to address the issue of the way the government or society at large should deal with crime. People from the government, police, and military that appear in his stories are usually shown as either incompetent or corrupt.