Unless you've been living under a rock the last few years — and sincerest apologies if you've been forced to endure such a painful existence — you're probably at least somewhat familiar with Netflix's Marvel properties, which include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and most recently The Defenders, a series that dares to claim Sigourney Weaver is anything but a hero who deserves to be worshipped.
Netflix's Marvel properties are all interconnected, existing within the same shared universe. It's technically part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe — you know, the one that includes Chris Evans' biceps — but for all intents and purposes, the Netflix series mostly keep to themselves and interact only with one another, like the weirdest clique at one of the most violent high schools you can imagine attending.
This fall Netflix will release its first Marvel series that wasn't announced as part of the initial five: Marvel's The Punisher. The character of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) was first introduced as an antagonist during the second season of Daredevil. Although the violent comic book character struggled repeatedly to find an audience on the big screen, Bernthal's version quickly became a fan favorite.
But if you've never watched Netflix's Marvel properties or simply skipped the second season of Daredevil altogether — honestly, no one would blame you; Bernthal was the lone bright spot — here's what you need to know to dive right into Marvel's The Punisher when it debuts this fall.
Who is the Punisher?
If the Punisher, whose real name is Frank Castle, were the type to needlepoint — you don't know his life — his favorite pillow would almost certainly feature his most iconic line from Daredevil's second season: "You hit them and they get back up. I hit them and they stay down."
Introduced with a lot of firepower, plenty of blood and little to no warning, Castle embodies brute strength. He solves his problems through extreme violence, favoring the use of guns because they support his take-no-prisoners mentality. But much like Dexter Morgan before his lumberjack days, the Punisher only kills criminals or people who've likely done much worse.
But that explains who the Punisher is, not the man behind the nom de guerre. Castle is a former Marine whose wife, son and daughter were brutally murdered shortly after he returned home from active duty. During a trip to Central Park, they were caught in the crossfire of a firefight involving three different gangs. Castle was there and also injured, but he survived. The loss of his family and the desire for revenge is what sent him on his way to becoming the Punisher.
Daredevil and where we left off:
Castle's actions in Hell's Kitchen during Daredevil's second season led him to butt heads with Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), who took issue with his lethal form of problem solving. The debates that cropped up between the two men about morality and their differing approach to vigilantism were some of the best moments in all of Daredevil Season 2.
Castle was eventually arrested for his actions and sentenced to life in prison, having confessed to his crimes during his trial. It was in prison that he met Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio), who claimed another inmate, Dutton, had information regarding the men who killed Frank's family. Suspicious of Fisk's motives, Castle nevertheless eventually agreed to kill Dutton after learning what he knew about the massacre in Central Park. Naturally, Fisk eventually left Frank to be murdered by Dutton's men, but in one of the series' signature hallway fights, Castle prevailed.
It was eventually revealed that Frank's commanding officer in the Marines, who had come to his defense at his trial, was actually the drug lord the Blacksmith, and that he was responsible for killing Frank's family that day in the park. Obviously Castle killed him. His death allowed closure — and the added bonus of providing Castle with an armory full of weapons.
Wearing the Punisher's familiar-to-comic-book-fans skull symbol upon a bullet-proof vest found in the Blacksmith's secret armory, Castle arrived at the season's anticlimactic climactic battle between Daredevil, Elektra (Elodie Yung) and the Hand, and picked off several ninjas during the fight, thus allowing Daredevil to gain the upper hand.
At the end of the season, Castle returned to his family's home and burned it to the ground after retrieving a mysterious CD related to someone named Micro, who will be a figure in The Punisher. Known in the comic books as Microchip, Micro is Castle's computer whiz ally. The character was referenced in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a hacker. He previously worked for the NSA.
Frank's relationship with Karen Page:
Supporting cast members from various series within Netflix's Marvel universe often appear in multiple series. Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), a former employee of the defunct law firm Nelson and Murdock, which represented Castle at his trial, is making the leap to The Punisher after stumbling into a journalism career at the New York Bulletin after stumbling into an amateur detective career in Season 1. Karen, a former love interest of Murdock, has a soft spot in her heart for Castle.
What to expect in The Punisher:
The cliffhanger in Daredevil involving the mysterious CD is what sets up the storyline for the new series, which will prominently feature Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and continue to dig into Castle's past. It will follow a new conspiracy that runs deeper than New York's criminal underworld and affects far more people than just Castle's family. The series also stars Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, known in the comics as the villain Jigsaw, and Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, a Homeland Security officer assigned to stopping the Punisher, among others.
The Punisher will premiere on Nov 17th on Netflix.
Check out the first-look photos in the gallery below.