The Punisher Season 1 Review Roundup: What Critics Are Saying About This Netflix Offering
The Punisher gets its own solid foundation in Netflix as another addition to its ever-growing number of tv shows. A quick click on an episode, and you get to watch the troubled and traumatized Frank Castle annihilate his enemies.
Stemming from its Marvel comics roots, The Punisher is "Frank Castle" — a character created by writer Gerry Conway under Stan Lee's publishing wing.
Castle kills people. He incites violence and exacts revenge on criminals.
Vigilante justice becomes his mission when his family was murdered by the mob. This is a classic story of rage, trauma and the pursuit of redemption.
Across the board, actor Jon Bernthal gets excellent reviews for his portrayal of Castle. Here are some top critics reviews for The Punisher.
From Variety's Sonia Saraiya
At first, Marvel's The Punisher seems like another misstep. In the television landscape at large, another overwhelmingly gray and brutally violent show centered on a dysfunctional anti-hero is superfluous. Within the superhero genre, it's even more so. But The Punisher transcends what it appears to be. Not completely, and not always; this is still a very violent show, saturated in tortured masculinity. But thanks to Jon Bernthal's seamless performance as the non-superpowered vigilante Frank Castle and showrunner Steve Lightfoot's sharp, conscious storytelling, The Punisher approaches the high points of Jessica Jones by introducing a damaged, deadly character and telling his story as one piece of an unjust whole. Despite first impressions, Frank Castle in fact a marginalized figure - because he is a veteran.
From Collider's Chris Cabin
This is incredibly serious material, and it's a testament to the ambition of The Punisher that the show's creator, Steve Lightfoot, does not shy away from the isolationism and inner torment that veterans live with on a daily basis. One soldier that attends the same discussion group that Castle drops in on, run by fellow soldier Curtis Hoyle is found digging a ditch in his backyard in the hopes that it will help cure his anxiety and insomnia. Another, much older veteran talks cynically about a careless government and the need for an armed uprising. Stolen valor and high-end private security firms also factor into the narrative along the way. The series is nothing if not timely, and when the focus is on these matters, The Punisher is more challenging and captivating than anything the MCU or Marvel TV programs have produced thus far.
From The Wrap's Phil Owen
What makes the whole thing work, though, is in what type of show The Punisher actually is. It's not action (though it occasionally does have action), but rather is a noir mystery. Frank's story now is not about hunting and meting out justice with his guns. It's about unraveling the conspiracy and dealing with the specific people responsible. This Frank Castle is still super anguished but, thanks in no small part to his partnership with Micro, is not reckless. This is not the unhinged Frank Castle we saw on Daredevil.
Not everyone isn't as impressed by the latest Netflix offering.
From IndieWire's LIz Shannon Miller
Watching The Punisher isn't unpleasant. Bernthal is a compelling lead, the supporting cast, including Revah, Moss-Bachrach, and Jaime Ray Newman, is a good enough reason to tune in.
But while the show's commitment to character-focused storytelling is admirable, it does remain trapped in the political climate into which it launches. By far the most awkward element is the fact that the media, in the world of The Punisher, calls Frank Castle a terrorist. In our current society, that's a word which any white male who commits a great deal of violence seems to dodge, for some reason. Frank racks up quite the body count over the course of the season, but calling him a terrorist in this fictional context makes no sense given the fact that in the real world, that would never happen.
The consensus - The Punisher is worth the watch. But is it binge-worthy?