Five Punisher Stories Marvel Should Never Adapt

Yesterday, it Marvel announced that Walking Dead star Jon Bernthal was the new Punisher (Frank Castle) for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He will debut in the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil. While we can only speculate where they’re going to take the Punisher (please give him his own Netflix show!), we do have a few thoughts on where they shouldn’t take him based on his own long and varied comic book series.


Could it be vigilante vs vigilante this upcoming season?

These are the five stories that are just too extreme, too sickening, too disturbing, too stupid, or just simply too awful up to ever show on TV. The Punisher has a long list of disgusting, horrific stories that easily put Game of Thrones to shame. And you might be thinking, “Hey now, Marvel’s not going to go too dark with this.” But, we would like to remind you all that there’s a scene in Daredevil where a guy’s head’s crushed with a car door so many times it explodes like a watermelon. Marvel can totally go dark. Let’s just hope they don’t jump the shark by adapting any of these.


What is it?

Punisher Max is somewhat of a “what if?” story. It’s set in a more realistic universe without the Marvel superheroes, but with some of our favorite Marvel villains. Essentially, Wilson Fisk tricks the five head mob bosses into creating a Kingpin. A fictional head of all crime in New York. Of course it works, and Wilson Fisk betrays the mob bosses by brutally murdering them all. The Punisher finds out about the Kingpin and vows to kill him like the rest of the criminal scum out there. Insanity ensues, and you get a gory tale of revenge, obsession, and betrayal.

Why shouldn’t it be adapted?

Overall the story is actually pretty good. Jason Aaron really understands the characters and has a lot of fun bringing them to life. It shouldn’t be adapted, because it just gets messed up. Like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer messed up. The content is gruesome on a level that is just hard to digest, and it never stops. Torture, murders, beatings, severed limbs, eyes popping out of sockets, child murder, and rape. Punisher Max has it all. What makes it more disturbing for some reason is the art style. Steve Dillon’s techniques somehow is both realistic yet cartoonish at the same time. So while the faces, and figures are realistic, the colors are bright and pop off the page. You really feel a sense of over zealousness from the gore on the page. It just might be a little too much to see the Punisher cut off a guy’s fingers and bolt each one to the wall with a nail gun.


What is it?

It’s exactly what you think it is. The Punisher teams up with The Real Slim Shady to fight a criminal named Barracuda on the mean streets of Detroit and then later on a boat. Because why not? If you’re wondering why this description is so short, well we can explain: there is literally nothing else to add to this comic. You literally get what the title says. The Punisher meets Eminem.

Yes. This happened.

Why shouldn’t it be adapted?

If you just read that summary and are now thinking to yourself, “Wow. That sounds incredibly stupid.” You’d be right. It is incredibly stupid. The story is bizarre to say the least, the Punisher is barely in it, and Eminem is not nearly as entertaining as you would think he’d be. And the most disappointing thing about it? There is barely any action in the comic, which is usually the biggest sell for a Punisher story. This is one story that definitely needs to just stay in comic book limbo where it belongs.


What is it?

Frank Castle is a character that works best outside of the main Marvel continuity. When he’s alone fighting hordes of mobsters, and criminals he’s able to keep his character interesting. When somebody messes with that formula it can lead to some really crappy stories. Enter comic book writer Rick Remender who decided that the Punisher needed a gimmick. Something to give him an edge, to make him unique. So, why not turn him into a Frankenstein monster?… Shhh. Do hear that? That’s the sound of a million face palms at once.

Why shouldn’t it be adapted?

Well despite how silly it would look to see a giant Frankenstein Monster with guns fighting Daredevil, the real stories about this zombified Frank Castle are really uninteresting. You would think that concept would be very entertaining, but they aren’t. They’re more thoughtful, dull experiences that are in desperate need of something blowing up. It’s easy to tell that the writer was just really happy that he came up with a gimmick that’s a pun of the Punisher’s name. This is another dark time in the Punisher’s career where Marvel likes to quietly sweep it under the rug.


What is it?

Death in super hero comics is about as effective as a five-year old fighting off Godzilla. Every good comic book super hero fan knows to just set their watch when a character dies. They’re usually back in about a year and a half after they die. So, of course, the Punisher does in fact die at one point. But, he gets brought back. As an avenging angel from heaven with guns. Remember, this was the nineties, and superhero comics needed to have guns in everything. Even undead angels needed UZIs.

Why shouldn’t it be adapted?

Well, again, the tone would just be weird in the Marvel Netflix universe. But, it’s also just a poorly written story that is about as generic as every other avenging angel character that’s designed to smite the wicked and do the work of God. Johnny Cash did a better job at this. Also, as stated before, the character is just not that interesting when he’s given a gimmick. He works best as just a guy who kills criminals. It can be that simple some times. So giving him angel sub machine guns, and a holy mission from God, is just lame.

1). THE PUNISHER #60-62

What is it?

You can probably tell by reading this list that some writers don’t seem to know what to do with the character. He sometimes is given crappy gimmicks. Or is given weird team ups. Or is just poorly thought out. And this is a rare case where all three just mesh perfectly well. Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the unanimously decided worse Punisher story every created. The infamous story where the Punisher turns black to escape the law.  The white Punisher turns African-American.

Are we sure this isn’t a Tyler Perry movie?

Why shouldn’t it be adapted?


This comic is amazing to think about how it was made. Because, if you know anything about printing process for comics, then you would probably gather that comic books are a very collaborative experience. This concept was thought of, pitched to editors, written by a writer, drawn by an artist, inked, typed, edited, and then reviewed for printing. In that time nobody, at any point, went, “This seems like a really bad idea.” The comic also features Luke Cage who is getting his own Netflix show soon, but he couldn’t save this travesty. This is the comic that is just spectacular to research about. It’s weird, it’s gross, it’s disturbing, and it’s the greatest Punisher comic that should never be adapted.

Thankfully, if Marvel keeps going in the direction they’re going with Netflix then we shouldn’t have to worry about them dusting off one of these chestnuts. Hopefully the future of the Punisher will be very bright in the twisted, dark world of Marvel’s Netflix pocket of their cinematic universe.

Nick Enquist
Nick Enquist
Nick Enquist writes opinion pieces and reviews of comic books, movies, and TV shows for Monkeys Fighting Robots.

What do you think?