The Punisher was unleashed by Netflix with all its power but even so, a lot of fans and, unfortunately for the series, critics only saw another comic-book-based series that is suffocated under too many supporting characters and with a few too many episodes.
An Unexpected Addition
It seems that super-hero series aren’t performing as predicted on Netflix. After Daredevil didn’t manage to convince the audience with its second season, Netflix went on and produced The Punisher. Their bet was that a program led by Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) might just be enough for the success of the project, however, not even that could not really justify the 13 hours of the first season.
Even though it comes as an improvement compared to other Marvel shows like The Defenders or Iron Fist, The Punisher still leaves the fans with that empty feeling. That feeling you get when the movie doesn’t really manage to get a convincing take on the character.
The apparent simplicity of the hero is one of the strong points of The Punisher. Similar to the logo on his chest, the character is a straight-forward type of guy that only guides himself by the black or white rule. That can be easily translated into – if you’re a bad guy, bad things are coming your way. But even so, this black or white approach that the producers of The Punisher counted on so much, is a lot less effective than it was in the bi-dimensional world of comics. Besides this TV show launched by Netflix, The Punisher franchise was the object of three independent cinema movie releases and all of them were either a complete failure or very disappointing in figures and box office.
How does Frank Castle fit?
It can be easily said that the producer’s bet on Frank Castle for this part can be considered a success. The only thing is that he just might be more than the rage-consumed killer with a seemingly-endless arsenal of rifles. It’s no easy task converting such a straight-forward figure into a complex and engaging 3D character for 1 and a half hours, let alone for thirteen – the total air-time that the show gathered in its debut season. When you take all that into consideration and add the unsettling real-world mass shootings in the USA, The Punisher might be put against forces even larger than Netflix.
Not a Bad Show Though
All the facts presented above don’t necessarily make The Punisher a bad show, the type of show that shouldn’t even be made. On the plus side, as mentioned earlier, it’s light-years ahead of shows like Iron Fist when it comes to quality. The thing with The Punisher is that even though it has some elements that can work very well, the overall show gives the feeling of a slow and focus-deprived series. And this situation didn’t occur for lack of trying. Steve Lightfoot, the show-runner of Hannibal put all his effort into this one, but the lack of a gripping story and the sheer simplicity of the storyline developed by Marvel were not enough in the end.
In order to get that full thirteen hours of showtime, The Punisher shifts its focus between the vigilante action of Frank and a lot of other plots fixed on different law-enforcement figures. Even though these characters are being played quite admirably by good actors like Michael Nathanson or Amber Rose Revah, their characters aren’t shaped properly. What you get is a story much like similar shows with a cop that is somehow forced to work with the vigilante, with a relationship that is shaky at the beginning but in the end, evolves to a lucrative co-operation.
All things considered, a lot of the first part of season 1 from The Punisher revolves around the question that any fan ends up asking. And that question is exactly how much time is alright to spend around all these characters. And the answer comes from the commitment with which Netflix pushed this show for a full 13 hours. It’s really impossible to focus on the character’s homicidal rage and a few supporting characters for 13 episodes and expect to have an engaging show.
The bottom line is that The Punisher is not entirely a bad show but the fact that the main character can’t really be presented in a different light, connected with the will of Netflix to push the season to 13 hours of airtime proved to be an uninspired combination.
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