With a new identity in hand and his time as The Punisher firmly in the past, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is on the road, trying to find a measure of peace with his life. He is off to a good start, but as is often the case with troubled anti-heroes, the good times aren’t meant to last. It isn’t long before The Punisher comes out of retirement to save a girl and bring vengeance to those who operate above the law.
As expected, The Punisher is gritty and brutal. Most of the action scenes are hard-hitting and bloody, which suits the source material well. While the breakneck action is sure to receive top billing, The Punisher does have more to offer. The action is supported by an engaging story, one that develops its characters and their motivations well.
Season two of The Punisher isn’t quite as strong as the series’ first season, though fans will be pleased with the show’s sophomore outing. It starts strong, and gets to a good place by the finale, but suffers from a mid-season lull that could have been avoided. A few too many episodes seem to rinse and repeat, focusing on hard-hitting brawls and clues that don’t lead anywhere. This can work well for a network show that airs weekly, but it is a noticeable flaw in the binge-able Netflix release.
It offers a contrast to Netflix’s other Marvel titles (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage), partly due to the darker subject matter, but also because The Punisher leaves behind the superpowers that are prevalent in the other Marvel fare. While the direct connection to other Marvel titles is minimal, the fact that The Punisher has its roots in the real world goes a long way toward rounding out Netflix’s corner of the Marvel franchise.
It’s unclear what the future holds for the series, or any of Netflix’s Marvel content for that matter, as Disney plans to launch its own streaming service later this year. It is likely that Disney will consolidate its Marvel holdings for the new service, and Netflix has chosen not to renew many of their Marvel titles with the rest hanging in limbo at this point. Still, if The Punisher is going to wrap on its second season, at least the show can go out on a high note.