'Marvel's The Punisher' - "3 AM" Series Premiere Recap

Marvel’s latest crack at the Punisher character was first introduced in season two of Daredevil. The perks of debuting in Daredevil is that the newest version of Frank Castle, as portrayed by Jon Bernthal, became a huge hit with audiences, creating a very real hype for his own spin-off series. One of the potential drawbacks is that The Punisher series now had to figure out a solid starting point after Castle’s backstory had already been fairly well covered in another series. With the series premiere, “3 AM”, creator Steve Lightfoot may have cracked the code.

The series opens with Frank Castle quickly and brutally eliminating everyone that had a part in his family’s murders, then burning his Punisher persona for good. This allows the show to hit a quick reset button as Castle lives a solitary life, his inevitable call back into action potentially around any corner.

Castle’s life consists of working a construction job, where he keeps to himself and beats down walls for a living. At night he is plagued by nightmares of his wife being killed right in front of him. Castle also pays the occasional secret visit to a veteran support group run by an old war buddy named Curtis. It’s here that the show tries to throw in discussions on gun laws and our current political climate, but it wrings hollow. The writers are aware that the audience is just waiting on baited breath for the moment Castle springs back into bloody action. The show is establishing that Frank Castle doesn’t want to resort to violence. Too bad this is a show where resorting to violence is what the audience craves. You can’t have it both ways.

Castle finally resorts to violence when the new kid at work gets mixed up with the wrong group of co-workers. They rob a local gang-related poker game, but turn on the kid when he blows their cover. Castle shows up just in time to brutally murder everyone and let the kid run free. As the premiere comes to a close it is revealed that a mysterious man known as Micro is watching surveillance footage of Castle leaving the scene of the crime.

Elsewhere in the premiere we are introduced to Dinah Madani, another stereotypical “last good cop in New York” archetype, except this time she's a Homeland Security agent! Her bosses over her seem corrupt, so it’s up to her and her partner to deliver justice! It’s a trope that’s not only overly familiar, it’s also already been used in several Marvel series so far. In this version, Madani is trying to track down information on Castle and his old military buddies due to their involvement in the torture and murder of her innocent friend. I think I can safely predict that when Madani and Castle eventually cross paths they will find a mutual respect for each other and ally together in taking down the people really responsible for the atrocities done against them. Or maybe I’m wrong and The Punisher will transcend the typical tropes. Only one way to find out, and that’s to continue my binge!