Marvel and Netflix have had a long, very successful and very prosperous relationship to this point, but according to reports a Netflix-Marvel divergence could be on the cards as Disney (who own Marvel) try to push their own streaming platform ‘Disney Life”. Doing so would spell the end of series such as Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil and the collaborative series that is The Defenders. Marvel and Netflix collaborations and series have spawned the creation of some of the platforms most popular series. Series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil and the all-star team-up that was The Defenders are four of the top five streamed shows of 2017, based on their viewing numbers within the first 30 days of release.
If the end of the Netflix-Marvel deal is close, that would leave The Punisher as one of the last series to come from the agreement, and if it is, it went out with a bang. The Punisher is by far the darkest, most brutal and most violent of the series to date, and at no point shies away from the blood and gore the story entails. The Punisher follows the story of former Marine Corps Lieutenant Frank Castle, played tremendously by Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), who, following the events of Daredevil Season 2, goes into hiding and is believed by authorities to be dead. We join Castle working on a construction site, minding his own business and keeping himself out of trouble. It isn’t long, however, until his past work in Afghanistan comes back to haunt him and he finds himself being followed by an unknown figure going by the title of Micro. Together, both Micro and Castle go out with the purpose of finding out what exactly happened to Castle’s family, who’s to blame for their deaths and what Frank’s time in Afghanistan has to do with it all.
At 13 episodes long, it is one of the longer Marvel series, but despite this it maintains its quick pace and dramatic tones throughout. The camera never attempts to hide us from the blood and gore of the situation, as 3 people are shot in the head, in-frame, in the first episode alone. With series such as these it’s often what we don’t see that matters most; what the director decided to cut and what he deemed important enough to keep. In The Punisher, a scene is never wasted, nor is a word, as everything you see and hear holds importance in both present and future episodes. The dialogue is minimal, with Castle rarely feeling the need to talk when guns and fists can do the talking for him. It is important in shows with little dialogue, that nothing gets lost in translation with writers trying to be too smart. There is no need to worry in this instance, as the dialogue fits the dual purpose of both getting the point and feeling natural, and not leaving the audience wondering what they’ve just witnessed.
The cinematography throughout the series is beautiful. With the story taking place mainly in New York or Afghanistan (through flashbacks), the sense of squalor can be felt when characters find themselves in the darker and rougher areas of the city, and the heat can almost be felt through the screen when the story takes us to the middle east. As previously noted, the acting throughout is phenomenal and of the highest quality, with Bernthal seemingly finding the role he was born to play. This is one of, if not the, best Marvel adaptations to date, and its themes of gun control, PTSD and the horrors of war are fitting for the world we find ourselves in today. If this is the end of the road for Netflix and Marvel, it may make you consider joining Disney Life to see what happens next. 4.3/5