Article: Marvel keeps changing The Punisher’s origins to keep him unrelatable

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote an article for this page, aside from reviews. This will be controversial and might shake your views on how you perceive the character.

For awhile, Marvel changed minor details about the Punisher’s origins for the sake of new stories, while still respecting the core of his character. Sadly, Marvel hasn’t kept true to this move over the past two decades and has consistently altered the “real origin” and reasons why Frank Castle becomes the Punisher.

Cover by Jim Lee

It seems that writers in the last two decades have tried too hard to justify the reasons why Frank became The Punisher. With Born, Garth Ennis introduced Frank’s addiction to war and had him listening to a “voice” who promised a never ending war. During his MAX run, Jason Aaron destroyed Frank’s family pillars and made Frank into a man willing to divorce his wife and turn his back on his family to get back to fighting war. With his current 616 run, Jason Aaron has made Frank into a messiah-like figure to The Hand, who has been destined to be the Punisher/the High Slayer/Fist of the Beast since his childhood. With this most recent take, Frank’s career as a killer has started at 12 years old.

As we know it, Frank Castle was a decorated marine, an upstanding citizen and a family man. With the loss of his family, it seems very credible that a guy really good at his “job”, asking for justice and being denied of it because of “powers”, would take justice into his own hands and become a criminal, an outlaw. As the character was created, Frank had one bad day that changed his life forever until the end of his life.

Marvel, in the last decades, have tried really hard to change Frank from his basic conception. They don’t seem content with this basic explanation. There has to have been something wrong with Frank or something that affected him beyond the Central Park Massacre, whether that be the war or his childhood. It appears that all these efforts are to destroy the character mythos and everything that made him interesting these past 49 years.

In my opinion, Marvel continues to create unnecessary changes to the character that fans have never asked for. We want the Punisher to punish bad people, taking on “street level” crime and occasionally going even further in the food chain against Hydra or other big criminal operation. That’s it, simple. And this applies to every medium of the character, not only comics. We want the Punisher to be done right. Not to be a pale shadow of what he was in the past.

3 thoughts on “Article: Marvel keeps changing The Punisher’s origins to keep him unrelatable”

  1. This insistence on changing characters to fit the mood of the current times has ruined The Punisher. I do think that Ennis’ series on Marvel Max was the best and true to the original story. Today we have a series of paranormal influences and of course, the tip of the hat to the Progressive Movement by changing his long recognized Skull emblem has kept me from following any longer. I hear Ennis is supposed to do another run with Frank making a appearance in a storyline concerning Nick Fury. With Ennis at the helm, I will follow that for sure. Hopefully it won’t be someone I can’t recognize.


    1. I think we will be all good with that. Ennis will close his Punisher story with Frank’s second tour in ‘Nam. Where he did all the wet works with Fury.


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