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‘The Punisher’ Is Here And It’s Filled With Guns, Violence, And Veteran Stereotypes
Brace yourself: Netflix’s The Punisher is finally here. After more than a year of Twitter and Instagram teasers, the much-hyped Daredevil spinoff starring Marvel’s most badass veteran arrived for streaming on Nov. 17... and he’s not alone.
In The Punisher, we get good-vs-evil plots, tangled moral dilemmas that are resolved with explosions and well-placed rounds, and a whole squad of military-veteran side characters — a smattering of cliches and stereotypes who are all trying to answer the same question: What’s a warrior without a war?
If you’re anti-hero Frank Castle, the answer is nothing. So you just up and start a fracas with some nefarious secret-agent types. For the other vet characters, it’s (a little) more complicated.
Task & Purpose received early access to the first half of the The Punisher’s premiere season, and just six episodes in, Frank Castle has already filled scores of body bags on his quest for vengeance. Be warned: There are a few spoilers ahead.
The show picks up immediately where Daredevil Season 2 left off, with Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead fame reprising his role as Castle, the titular Marine vet who adopts the Punisher nom de guerre after his family is brutally murdered.
At first, their deaths appear to be little more than the tragic collateral damage of gang-related violence, but they’re revealed to be the machinations of shady government actors. Castle launches a search for the man directly responsible for his family’s death: a CIA spook known as “Agent Orange” who oversaw Castle’s off-the-books assassination squad in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
— The Punisher (@ThePunisher) November 14, 2017
Unlike other shows in the Marvel cinematic universe — Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, or The Defenders, to name a few — The Punisher diverges from the tech-heavy gadgetry or superheroics of its sibling series, relying instead on human greed and brutality to drive the story forward. It’s a gritty approach that grants the show its own distinct flavor of bloody vengeance-fueled rampage.
In terms of veteran characters, there’s Billy Russo, Castle's one-time battle buddy from their days in the Marines, played by Ben Barnes, who now runs a security firm called Anvil under the auspice of giving former gunslingers a new purpose. Then there’s Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore), a combat-wounded amputee and former Navy corpsman who runs a support group for transitioning veterans, while also working a day job as an insurance salesman, and moonlighting as Castle’s personal physician and confidant.
And there’s more — including at least one Second Amendment-stumping vet convinced that the government’s out to disarm good patriots like him; a special operator who cloisters himself in the woods like a bow-toting hermit; and in one of the more egregious acts of stereotyping, there's a young post-9/11 vet struggling with traumatic memories who takes to sleeping in a foxhole in his backyard.
With all those earnest, addled characters running around, you could end up with a flat, unfunny Navy SEALs or Delta Force rehash. Enter David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a former NSA analyst who goes by the handle “Micro” and teams up with Castle to uncover what really happened in Kandahar. Castle's a big brute. Lieberman's a tall beanpole. Castle takes fights head on. Lieberman plans methodically and manipulates from afar. What’s a comic book universe without an “unlikely duo”?
This pair’s back and forth is a play on a common-enough stereotype: Non-operators lack discipline and never want to get their hands dirty, which is why they need a real man to show ‘em how it’s done. Welcome to TV’s Grunt vs. POG showdown, only this pogue is a nasty desk-riding cyber-spy civilian.
The veterans in The Punisher are many, and they are a mix of tragic heroes, broken men, and war profiteers all searching for new meaning and purpose amid a sense of alienation from apathetic civvies back home. Fair enough, but it’s up to viewers to decide whether the show’s portrayals of vets reflect reality as it is, or reality as they want it to be.
Nobody should want their reality to be this nasty and brutish, but if you expect your entertaining fantasy violence to come with a butt-load of moto and action, you’re in the right place. Frank Castle certainly keeps his promise of dealing out punishment, not justice, to those who wronged him.
The Punisher begins streaming on Netflix Nov. 17.
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
An F-15 is rocking a WWII paint job to honor a B-17 pilot who gave his life to save a wounded crewman
An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.
A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
After 70 years, service members are finally filing medical malpractice claims against the US military
Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.
Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.
It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.
Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.
A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.
With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.