In a world where Spider-Man and Batman movies are in active production, it's Frank Castle that's managing to dominate the news cycle — for a reason many might not expect to see in 2021. Last Wednesday, insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol in a domestic terrorist incident as members of Congress attempted to count the Electoral college votes to certify former Vice President Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. After many of those insurrectionists were spotted donning apparel that included the logo of Marvel's The Punisher, fans are now wondering if the House of Ideas should cancel the character for good.
Now, throughout social media, fans of the character — and fans of Marvel, in general — are calling on the publisher not only to address the issues at hand but potentially retire the character from future stories.
Castle first debuted in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1974 as a gun-toting villain. Since then, however, he's been transformed into an anti-hero — even though he uses his massive arsenal to mow down criminals in a storm of gunfire. More recently, the character's logo has been co-opted by the extremist groups that had a hand in the storming of the Capitol.
After insurrectionists were seen wearing the logo on dozens of live news broadcasts, prominent Punisher comic writer Garth Ennis went on record to call anyone sporting the brand a "halfwit."
"I've said this before a couple of times, but no one actually wants to be the Punisher," Ennis said. "Nobody wants to pull three tours of duty in a combat zone with the last one going catastrophically wrong, come home with a head full of broken glass, see their families machine-gunned into bloody offal in front of their eyes, and then dedicate the rest of their lives to cold, bleak, heartless slaughter."
He continued, "The people wearing the logo in this context are kidding themselves, just like the police officers who wore it over the summer. What they actually want is to wear an apparently scary symbol on a T-shirt, throw their weight around a bit, then go home to the wife and kids and resume their everyday life. They've thought no harder about the Punisher symbol than the halfwits I saw [on Wednesday], the ones waving the Stars & Stripes while invading the Capitol building."
Over the past few years — since Jon Bernthal's Punisher series on Netflix brought the character back to mainstream audiences — an increasing number of police officers have started to use the logo as well. Punisher co-creator Gerry Conway previously said any law enforcement official that chooses uses the logo is an "outlaw."
Any "cop" who wears a Punisher logo in his official capacity is identifying law enforcement with an outlaw. These "cops" are a disgrace to serious police officers everywhere. They show an imbecilic level of irresponsibility and should be fired immediately. https://t.co/8mJ0Mzp89x— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) October 11, 2019
Marvel has remained mum on the situation, though the character is not actively being used in any titles the publisher is releasing.
Both seasons of The Punisher are now streaming on Netflix.