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First appearance of the Punisher - Spider-man #129
First appearance of the Punisher - Spider-man #129

The Punisher (Frank Castle) is a vigilante and anti-hero in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr and Ross Andru, he first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (Feb. 1974).

The Punisher is a vigilante who considers murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, assault, and torture to be acceptable crime fighting tactics. Driven by the deaths of his family, who were killed by the mob when they witnessed a gangland execution in New York City's Central Park, he wages a one-man war on the mob and all criminals in general by using all manner of weaponry. A war veteran, Castle is a master of martial arts, stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, and a wide variety of weapons.

The Punisher's brutal nature and willingness to kill made him a novel character in mainstream American comic books in 1974. By the late 1980s, he was part of a wave of psychologically troubled anti-heroes and was featured in several monthly publications, including The Punisher War Journal, The Punisher War Zone, and The Punisher Armory. Two movie adaptations have been released, one in 1989, which featured Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher, and another in 2004, with the character played by Thomas Jane. A third adaptation is in post-production with Ray Stevenson as Castle and is planned for a September 2008 release.

Contents

Publication history

List of The Punisher comics

The Punisher was created by Gerry Conway and his first appearance was illustrated by Ross Andru, at that time the regular writer and artist, respectively, for The Amazing Spider-Man. Conway states he also helped design the character's distinctive costume:

"In the '70s, when I was writing comics at DC and Marvel, I made it a practice to sketch my own ideas for the costumes of new characters — heroes and villains — which I offered to the artists as a crude suggestion representing the image I had in mind. I had done that with the Punisher at Marvel.Alter Ego vol. 3 #14 (April 2002): "All The Stars There Are in (Super-hero) Heaven!" (Gerry Conway interviewed by Roy Thomas)}}

Conway had drawn a character with a small death's head skull on one breast. Then-Marvel art director John Romita, Sr took the basic design, blew the skull up to huge size, taking up most of the character's chest, and added a cartridge bandolier that formed the skull's teeth.

The Punisher was initially an antagonist of Spider-Man, although only due to being duped by the supervillain known as The Jackal. The character of the Punisher immediately became popular, and made appearances in the various Spider-Man titles and other series throughout the 1970s.

Initial series

In the early 1980s, artist Mike Zeck and writer Steven Grant proposed creating a Punisher series. Marvel published a miniseries whose premiere (Jan. 1986) was bannered on the cover as the first of four. After this first issue immediately sold out, Marvel expanded the miniseries to five issues (as then bannered on the cover of #2) and began active promotion.

The Punisher War Zone #1 (March 1992). Cover art by John Romita Jr
The Punisher War Zone #1 (March 1992). Cover art by John Romita Jr

An ongoing series, also titled The Punisher, premiered the next year. Initially by writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson, it eventually ran 104 issues (July 1987 - July 1995) and spun off two additional ongoing series — The Punisher War Journal (vol.1) (80 issues, Nov. 1988 - July 1995) and The Punisher War Zone (41 issues, March 1992 - July 1995), as well as the black-and-white comics magazine, The Punisher Magazine (16 issues, Nov. 1989 - Sept. 1990), and The Punisher Armory (10 issues, no cover dates, starting 1990), a diary detailing "His thoughts! His feelings! His weapons!" (as stated on the cover of #1). The Punisher also appeared in numerous one-shots and miniseries, and made frequent guest appearances in other Marvel comics, ranging from superhero series to the Vietnam War-era comic The 'Nam.

Decline

In 1995, Marvel cancelled all three ongoing Punisher series due to poor sales. The publisher attempted a relaunch almost immediately, with a new ongoing series title The Punisher, under the new Marvel Edge imprint, by writer John Ostrander, in which the Punisher appeared to willingly join and work for organized crime, and later confronted the X-Men and Nick Fury. The series ran for 18 issues, from November 1995 to April 1997. Writer Christopher Golden's four-issue miniseries The Punisher: Purgatory (Nov. 1998 - Feb. 1999) posited a deceased Punisher resurrected as a supernatural agent of various angels and demons.

Revivals

A 12-issue mini-series characterized by black comedy, again titled The Punisher (April 2000 - March 2001) by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, under the Marvel Knights imprint, revived the character's popularity. An ongoing series (37 issues, Aug. 2001 - Feb. 2004), primarily by Ennis and Dillon, followed, succeeded in 2004 by an ongoing Ennis series under Marvel's mature-readers imprint, MAX.

In November 2006, the Punisher returned in a new The Punisher War Journal (vol.2) series, written by Matt Fraction and penciled by Ariel Olivetti. The first three issues of the book are set during the Marvel Civil War event. It involves Castle taking on supervillains rather than his traditional non-superpowered criminal antagonists. He has also made appearances in the main Civil War series (issues 5, 6 and 7).

Marvel MAX

Promotional art for The Punisher vol. 7, #44 (March 2007), by Tim Bradstreet. Castle's birth date (Feb. 16, 1950) was redacted on the published cover.
Promotional art for The Punisher vol. 7, #44 (March 2007), by Tim Bradstreet. Castle's birth date (Feb. 16, 1950) was redacted on the published cover.

In Marvel's MAX imprint, the Punisher is set in the main Marvel Universe but without superhero appearances.[2][3][4] Frank Castle's timeline remained untouched when Marvel adjusted those of its other characters, with his history never altered or moved up in time. Promotional art for the cover of vol. 7, #44 (March 2007) gave his birth date as February 16, 1950, but that was removed for the published issues.[5] Castle has a well-maintained physical condition and health, in spite of his age.

The imprint also depicts the Punisher as having been an active vigilante for almost 30 years, with vol. 7, #19 (June 2005) specifying he had killed approximately 2,000 people, not including military personnel or the mass deaths in a story in which the Punisher causes a hydrogen bomb to be dropped onto the Pacific island Grand Nixon, where a General Kriegkopf has gathered 2,000 mercenaries, including the assassin known as The Russian.

Whereas the traditional Punisher stories remained within the United States and involved antagonists and settings of conventional domestic crime, stories of the MAX Punisher often focus on current events, ranging from corporate fraud to sexual slavery and the war on terrorism. Characters in these stories are all products of past or current environments, including operatives of the CIA, KGB, Secret Intelligence Service, SAS and militaries and militias from the Balkans and Middle East and terrorist cells like the IRA, all with agendas rooted in past conflicts like the Cold War or the Yugoslav wars.

In the miniseries Born, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Castle's roots are traced back to Vietnam, during his third tour, where he undergoes a psychological and possibly supernatural transformation into the Punisher in order to survive a massive assault on his fortification by the combined forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. The one-shot Punisher: The Tyger, by Ennis and John Severin, went even further and showed that Castle had lived with murders, deaths and criminals all his life.

character biography

This capsule introduction appeared in The Punisher titles from 1987 to 1994: "When mobsters slew his family, Frank Castle vowed to spend the rest of his life avenging them. Trained as a Marine and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, he now wages a one-man war against crime as the Punisher".

Early life and military career

Born in Queens, New York to parents of Sicilian ancestry, the young Francis Castiglione originally studied to become a Roman Catholic priest, but changed his mind because he was unable to forgive those who did evil. Eventually, Castle would enlist in the United States Marine Corps becoming a U.S. Marine Captain. He married his wife Maria, who was already pregnant with their first child prior to his enlistment.

During his time in the USMC, Castle graduated from boot camp and then went on to United States Marine Corps School of Infantry. Immediately after, he went through the USMC's Reconnaissance, Force Reconnaissance, and Sniper Schools. Attaining dockets, Castle was permitted to go through U.S. Army Airborne School, and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team training, becoming qualified as a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land). While still in training, Castle met Phan Bighawk, a Native American scout. He was assigned to be Castle's guide, and through Phan, he learned how to survive in the wilderness.

Following his training, Castle would serve in the Vietnam War in the Special Forces Unit as a point man. He fought in numerous engagements and was the only survivor (from both sides) of a Viet Cong assault on Valley Forge Firebase in 1971. For heroism in the line of duty, he was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, the Silver Star 3 times, Bronze Star, the Purple Heart 4 times, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

While still in his first tour, Castle met Lieutenant Burt Kenyon. Kenyon was a Marine serving in the same combat company as Castle in Vietnam. When the platoon came under fire, Castle was badly injured by a V.C. explosive and surrounded by the enemy. However, Kenyon calmly appeared, gunned down the Viet Cong and dragged Castle to safety. Kenyon said to Castle that he now owes him his life. Two months later, Kenyon was declared mentally unfit for service and was discharged. Years later, Kenyon became a hired assassin known as "The Hitman" and died in a battle against Castle.

After finishing his first tour of duty in Vietnam, he signed up for a second tour. Castle served a total of 4 years in the Vietnam War (1968 to 1971). Six years later (1976) after the American involvement in Vietnam ended, Castle ran Special Black Ops training missions for Marine Recon Commandos in the upper New York State area.

Death of family

In 1976, Castle, his wife, Maria and their children Lisa and Frank Jr. were in New York's Central Park for an afternoon picnic. They witnessed a Mafia gangland execution; an informant had been hanged from a tree. To eliminate all witnesses, the Costa crime family gunned them down; only Castle survived. Even though Frank was able to identify all of the shooters, the police were unable to stop them; they were tied in too deeply to the powerful Costa family. Grieving over his family's death and outraged at the incompetence of the police, Castle decided that the only punishment criminals should receive is that of physical destruction. Shortly thereafter, he emblazoned his body armor with a symbol of a skull, and began his mission of punishing the guilty. His family's killers were some of the first to be slain. Since then, he has waged a one-man war on crime, taking the name "The Punisher".

Castle has since devoted his life to eradicating organized crime, using the nom de guerre of the Punisher, utilizing his combat experience (four years as a United States Marine Corps Captain), guerrilla warfare (assassinations, ambushes, hit and runs, bombings, weapons and supplies against them), urban warfare (using the crowded city of New York to blend in and disappear), psychological warfare (putting fear into the hearts of criminals), detective skills (talking to people, reading obtained files on the people he goes after, tracking and surveying the enemy), always adapting to the enemy (such as using the Mafia's own methods and tactics against them), and whatever resources and means may be necessary to do so, ranging from light anti-tank weaponry, to enraged polar bears, piranhas, and even a hydrogen bomb.

Vigilante crusade

The Punisher has fought virtually every known criminal organization including the Italian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Colombian and Mexican Illegal drug cartels, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Chinese Triads, Jamaican Yardies, the Irish Mob, biker gangs, street gangs, gunrunning militias, muggers, killers, rapists, psychopaths, sadists, thieves, and corrupt city officials. He also assaults criminal business enterprises such as drugs, weapons smuggling, money laundering and human trafficking. The Punisher has been fighting organized crime for long enough that he knows their modus operandi and can often predict their actions. Many of these organizations have tried to kill the Punisher, using both their own men and hired contract killers.

In his vigilante crusade, the Punisher has crossed paths with several costumed crimefighters, including Spider-Man and Daredevil. These encounters have sometimes resulted in his incarceration. The Punisher has been rated as one of the most dangerous criminals alive. When he was incarcerated in New York’s Ryker's Island prison (a Marvel Universe version of real-life Rikers Island), though heavily outnumbered in gang fights, the Punisher had routinely killed armed, homicidal criminals with frightening ease, sustaining almost no injury. Due to his proficiency in fighting, he is rarely accosted in prison environments. Adhering to his military philosophies, the Punisher constantly trains whenever he is not out on action. He exercises fanatically to maintain his impressive physical conditioning and sticks to a balanced diet whenever possible.

The Punisher is highly mobile. He has many bases of operations and does not limit himself to working only in New York City. He has been to many places in the U.S. and around the globe, fighting crime in such places as Latin America, Europe, Russia and Afghanistan. The Punisher has an extensive criminal record due to his activities. The law enforcement community such as the police, the FBI, the CIA and even S.H.I.E.L.D. are aware of his existence and have made many attempts to capture him; however, many rank-and-file law enforcement officials are reluctant to take action against him because most of them support his war on violent crime.

Relation with superhero community

While the Punisher most often fights normal criminals, he has also had run-ins with some of Marvel's superhuman villains, including Bushwacker, Doctor Doom, The Reavers and Bullseye. Circumstances have even led him to battle Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Hulk and Wolverine, in addition to Marvel superspy Nick Fury, although on other occasions, several superheroes become allies and partners for brief times. Due to the Punisher's homicidal nature, few of his foes became recurring antagonists, the most notable of these being the severely scarred enforcer Jigsaw. The Punisher also acquired a nemesis in the form of the Kingpin, a longtime Spider-Man and Daredevil foe, and developed enmity with Daredevil himself, who likewise abhorred and fought against the Punisher's brutal methods. Castle's sidekick for a time, Microchip, was a techno-geek who could seemingly hack anything, but was later killed. The Punisher recently attacked the Runaways, who were trying to steal mystical artifact for the Kingpin, who offered them protection from the government.

Civil War & World War Hulk events

Before the Punisher takes part in the super human Civil War, he kills Stiltman, who was acting as a registered hero on Iron Man's side of the war. The Punisher was on a mission to kill a known child pornographer when Stiltman interrupted his stakeout, after the same man for arrest (who was already in police custody and sharing information with an FBI agent as part of a plea deal during the attack). The Punisher shortly reflects on how even though Stiltman seems to want to repent for his past, he still has a history of criminal activity including the deaths of innocents, and kills him and his intended pederast target. He then begins to investigate who freed Stiltman and gave him a new suit, which leads him to "raftugee" Stuart Clarke. Clarke, who has a grudge on Iron Man from his days as a Stark Industries employee and Iron Man villain, Stuart Clarke, reveals that it was Tony Stark who gave Stiltman the new technology. Clarke then gives him a device that detects the energy signature of Stark Technology, which leads the Punisher to find Spider-Man, who was being attacked by Thunderbolts members Jester and Jack O'Lantern. He kills the latter and then brings Spider-Man to the hideout of Captain America's unregistered side of heroes (which Peter was planning on joining), and proposes to join the team, "since the other guys started enlisting known thieves and convicted killers". Many superheroes in the rebellion opposing the Superhuman Registration Act object to the Punisher joining their ranks even after he rescues Spider-Man.Civil War #5 and Punisher War Journal vol. 2, #1 But, when the Punisher kills the supervillains Plunderer and Goldbug, who arrive peacefully to join the rebellion, Captain America immediately ejects the Punisher. After the surrender of Captain America, the Punisher picks up Cap's mask off the ground. Following the events of Civil War and the death of Captain America, the Punisher dons a hybrid Captain America costume designed by Stuart Clarke, who has been on the run with him from Shield forces, while fighting the new Hate-Monger, who also wore a costume similar to Captain America's.Beginning in Punisher War Journal vol. 2, #7, per "The New Captain America?" Marvel.com (March 13, 2007) After killing Hate-Monger and disassembling his organization which was attacking encampments of people planning to illegally cross the American border. After that, the Punisher confronts Captain America's ex-partner, the Winter Soldier, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He claims that taking on the identity of the deceased Cap would be "too heavy for (him) to carry", and gives him the key to the hidden lock box that contains Captain America's mask.

During the events known as "World War Hulk", the Punisher killed the rampaging alien Mung the Inconceivable of the Warbound using a specially designed power-augmenting suit constructed by Stuart Clarke. The suit was similar in concept to that of Venom's, but was less durable and non-sentient.

Abilities and training

The Punisher possesses the normal human strength of a man who engages in rigorous regular physical exercise. Frank Castle engages in a brutal regimen of calisthenics, katas and firing range practice daily, maintaining his combat skills. He possesses an exceptional ability to tolerate pain, allowing him to undergo surgery without anesthesia and to keep functioning despite injuries that would incapacitate an ordinary man. Armed solely with conventional weapons and motivated by a fanatical hatred for criminals like those who murdered his family, the Punisher has single-handedly incapacitated up to a dozen well-armed and experienced opponents in a single encounter and escaped almost uninjured. It is his military training and his attention to detail that allows him to achieve this. His skills are such that he has repeatedly battled super-powered foes and come out victorious, despite his own lack of superhuman abilities.

The Punisher is a seasoned combat veteran of exceptional skills. A former U.S. Marine Captain with a distinguished combat record, Castle underwent sniper (his second tour in Vietnam was served as a sniper) and reconnaissance training while in the Corps. He also received U.S. Navy SEAL, UDT (Underwater Demolition Team), LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) training and airborne training with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Special Forces. The Marvel Knights and MAX imprints of The Punisher revealed that Castle received training, skills and expertise from the Australian Special Air Service Regiment when he was on exchange with Australian military forces operating in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Castle is well-versed in the arts of warfare and hand-to-hand combat, his styles of choice being Nash Ryu Jujutsu (the four-style martial art founded by his Sensei Adam Nash) and the Marine Corps LINE combat system. He is an exceptional knife fighter who carries up to 3 or 4 different types of edged weapons, preferring the knife he learned to fight with in the USMC: the KA-BAR.

Weapons

The Punisher's arsenal
The Punisher's arsenal

The Punisher's ever-changing arsenal of weaponry includes automatic and semiautomatic rifles, handguns, fragmentation and tear gas grenades, other various explosives, and combat knives. He commonly uses M16 .223 caliber automatic rifles, Sterling Mark 6 9mm semi-automatic rifles, 9mm Browning automatic pistols, .45 caliber automatics rechambered for 9mm. ammunition, .223 caliber Derringers, and Gerber Mark II combat knives. He maintains and stores all his weapons and supplies in warehouses and safehouses throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states.

The Punisher often customizes his weapons for greater effectiveness with both standard and custom items including magnified optics, reflex sights, night vision scopes, flashlights, grenade launchers, sound and flash suppressors, bipods, high-capacity magazines and ammunition including hollow point and armor piercing bullets.

Throughout the Punisher's crusade, he occasionally uses high-tech vehicles. His early series feature "battle vans" specially built and customized by his then-partner, Microchip. These vans were heavily armored, loaded with high-powered ammunitions with advanced telecommunication capabilities. Castle used these vans for surveillance and weapons transportation. He has also used motorcycles, helicopters, speed boats, or whatever he can find and use.

At one point, the Punisher had a pet Rottweiler, "Max", which he had saved from a dog fighting ring.

Costume

The Punisher's first outfit was a form-fitting black Kevlar bodysuit with a large white skull on his chest. According to the character, this draws the attention and the aim of the criminals to his heavily armored body, instead of his more vulnerable head. Each tooth of the skull is actually spare ammunition for firearms. Castle has used this costume on occasion in mid-2000s stories before "The Punisher War Journal Vol.2". In both the Marvel Knights and MAX imprints, the Punisher's attire consists of a black t-shirt with a white skull on the chest, black jeans or cargo trousers, black combat boots, and a black trenchcoat.

Personality

The Punisher differs from the majority of comic book protagonists. Whereas all are vigilantes in that they work outside the traditional system of law and order, the Punisher is one who works outside the "traditional" rules, because he does not feel remorse in killing. This often creates friction when he is forced to work alongside heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Daredevil, many of whom abide by a "no-killing" rule which they insist he follow during collaborative efforts.

The Punisher possesses no superhuman abilities and succeeds solely through ingenuity and the rigorous training of his military upbringing, a finely honed killer instinct and an extensive arsenal of weapons culled from fallen foes and military allies.

Unlike most comic book heroes, Castle also has no dual identity, no "real world" job, no known hobbies, and few friends. He spends nearly all of his time planning his next hit, stopping only to recover from injuries or fatigue. Money taken from criminals is used to purchase food, weapons, ammunition, and pay the rent of his many safehouses.

The Punisher also disregards what the police and the public think of him, and has been known to kill corrupt cops. But in an event that he kills an innocent person, he will voluntarily turn himself in to justice.Amazing Spider-Man #161 He is viewed as a dangerous criminal by the public and by most members of the superhero community, but many law enforcement personnel move against him only very reluctantly, because many honest police officers and federal agents view his actions as beneficial since he goes after criminals and corrupt officials who feel they are beyond the law.

Views on criminal-justice system

Castle's years of vigilantism have made him increasingly cynical about the capabilities of the American justice system, especially in regard to its failure to successfully prosecute his family's homicide, due to the witnessed killer's false alibi and the mob's influence in the New York City Police Department. During Don Daley's run on The Punisher title, his version of justice was classically based as "an eye for an eye".The Punisher #98 (Jan. 1995): letters page Throughout both the Marvel Knights and MAX run of The Punisher, the given reason Castle kills those he regards as criminals (which include both circumstantially alleged and incontrovertible individuals) is his desire not to see average people becoming victims of crime and enduring the same kind of pain and loss he experienced.

The way writers have approached the Punisher's response to the criminal justice system has changed many times over the years, though not since his earliest days as a standalone character (when he would occasionally use "mercy bullets" to make his actions more palatable) has the Punisher been portrayed as a hero. When originally conceived, his approach was hard-edged, and frowned upon by more heroic characters, such as Spider-Man. While that much remains true, the 2000s have seen a more considered take on the character's behavior. There are repeated references to the Punisher's contradictory and paradoxical views on the criminal justice system, though in general Castle never addresses his morality in any depth; he justifies his actions through such generalizations as, "That's another monster gone." Minor characters who question his motivation sometimes reach violent ends, with Castle refusing discussion and turning violent if pressed. Even villains have sometimes pointed out the web of justifications and rationalisations within which the Punisher operates.

Castle has also stated he does not want others to follow his path, on the grounds that his personal war against criminals is his alone, and he harbors resentment toward other (usually short-lived) vigilantes, taking exception at what he sees as their lack of "professionalism".See the 1986 miniseries The Punisher and the 2000 Marvel Knights 12-issue miniseries.

Other versions

Marvel 2099

The Punisher 2099

In the Marvel 2099 universe, both a male and female Punisher exist. The first follows the story of Public Eye police officer, Jake Gallows, after the murder of his mother, brother and sister-in-law. Gallows comes across Frank Castle's war journal in the Public Eye archives, and took the mantle as the new Punisher. The second follows the story of Polly, a lab-bred humanoid. After reprogramming herself, she releases her mental inhibitors, which gives her free will, intellect, a psychotic personality, and increases her strength to superhuman levels. Calling herself Vendetta, she feels that Jake Gallows is not efficient enough, and she decides to replace him in his work, only to later become his partner.

Ultimate Punisher

In the alternate-universe Ultimate Marvel imprint, the Punisher is not a Vietnam War veteran, but an ex-NYPD police officer, whose family was killed by corrupt police officers who knew Frank was going to expose them. The Punisher also appears in the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #6-8, followed by Ultimate Spider-Man #61, and then re-appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2 in which he kills a corrupt cop named Jeanne De Wolfe.

Marvel Zombies

In the alternate-universe Marvel Zombies continuity, the Punisher meets Ash Williams in the crossover arc Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness just before entering the Kingpin's office. Despite being offered the opportunity to team up with Kingpin, the Punisher proceeds to shooting and killing him along with Hammerhead. Later, he is killed when Ash Williams abandons him in the middle of a fight. He later resurfaces as a zombie, killing the Scarlet Witch at Doctor Doom's fortress.


Spider-Ham's Universe

In this funny animal alternate universe, the Punisher is Frank Carple, an anthropomorphic shark who is also known as the Punfisher.Marvel Tales #228 (Oct. 1989)

House of M

In the alternate-universe House of M, Castle appears as a media vigilante nicknamed the "Punisher" and is recruited after his arrest by John Proudstar to join and be the other human in the strikeforce known as the Brotherhood.House of M: Avengers #2 The same incident that lead to his family being killed occurs here except this time his wife and kids survive. After watching the Brotherhood's disregard to human life; Castle, with the help from Luke Cage's Avengers, moved his family to Wakanda.House of M: Avengers #3

Other media

The Punisher (2004) Promotional film poster.
The Punisher (2004) Promotional film poster.

Film

The Punisher (1989 film) The Punisher (2004 film) Punisher: War Zone

A film adaptation was directed by Mark Goldblatt (later the film editor of X-Men: The Last Stand) and written by Boaz Yakin. It starred Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher with Louis Gossett, Jr The film's most recognizable deviation from the comic books is the lack of the character's signature skull logo and the fact that the Punisher is a former cop.

A second film adaptation was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh (who wrote Die Hard: With a Vengeance) and starred Thomas Jane for the lead role with John Travolta as the main villain Howard Saint. This movie adaption was more faithful to the comic book and was loosely based on the Welcome Back, Frank comic. It was released in the U.S. on April 16, 2004. It was met with mixed reviews by critics and showed a mediocre performance at the box office. The DVD came with a limited edition (10,000 produced) mini-comic book written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, chronicling Castle's time in Delta Force in the Gulf War, and later in the FBI.

An extended cut was released on November 21, 2006. It includes 17 minutes of additional footage, as well as a new animated introduction sequence known as the "Kuwait scene."

A third film, entitled Punisher: War Zone is set to be released on September 12, 2008, but will have no relation with the 2004 film. It is directed by Lexi Alexander with Ray Stevenson in the Punisher role.

Television

The Punisher in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
The Punisher in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.

In addition to the three films of 1989, 2004 and 2008, The Punisher also made three appearances in Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the 1990s, voiced by John Beck. He first appeared in the seventh and eighth episodes of the second season, and later appeared in the eighth episode of season four. Due to the requirements for children's programming, Punisher was restricted to using non-lethal weapons which took the form of concussion blast energy weapons or gimmick guns such as electrified net launchers.

A robot duplicate of the Punisher also appeared in the season two episode of the 1992 X-Men TV series entitled "Mojovision", attacking Wolverine and Jean Grey.

Video games

The Punisher PlayStation 2 game
The Punisher PlayStation 2 game

The Punisher has also been the main character in several computer and video games.

The Punisher for Arcade and Sega Mega Drive, developed by Capcom, was a side-scrolling beat 'em up in the vein of Double Dragon in which the Punisher and/or Nick Fury would engage various foes in hand-to-hand combat, occasionally drawing firearms in lieu of melee combat.

The Punisher computer game for the Amiga and PC featured three different modes of gameplay: driving the Punisher's battle van, gunplay on foot and scuba diving.

A Punisher game was also released for the Game Boy system. It played in a manner similar to Operation Wolf, and featured a cameo appearance by Spider-Man. The Kingpin was the final boss in all versions except for Game Boy, which used Jigsaw.

For the Nintendo Entertainment System system, the Punisher starred in a titular, side-scrolling action game that allows players to control an aiming cursor in an over-the-shoulder shooting-gallery environment.

The Punisher makes a cameo appearance in the 2000 PlayStation Spider-Man game, with Daran Norris providing his voice. The Punisher leads Spider-Man to "Warehouse 65", where Spider-Man must stop the symbiote cloning process. After Spider-Man foils Doctor Octopus, the Punisher is last seen playing cards with Spider-Man, Daredevil and Captain America.

He was mentioned by name at the beginning of the 2005 multiplatform game Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, and a torn piece of his shirt can be seen hanging in the cinematic opening.

Toys

The Punisher has also appeared in the Marvel Legends toyline in series 4,6 and 8, modeled after his movie appearance, the Urban Legends boxed set, in the Face Off two-pack series in his classic outfit, and a variant similar to Tim Bradstreet's design. He was also given an action figure in the second series of Hasbro 12-inch Icons. The figure's design was also based on Bradstreet's art. Another figure in the upcoming series 4 of Hasbro's Marvel Legends as been announced, this one also based on Bradstreet's art with a camouflaged variant similar to his appearance in a level of the Playstation 2 game.


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