Law enforcement and the military have both long appropriated the Punisher's skull logo with members of both organizations applying the distinctive skull to everything from accessories, vehicles, armor, and even artwork displayed in offices. Such usage of the violent anti-hero's logo by those who are supposed to be keepers of the peace has been troubling and controversial for some time as well, but now that the logo has reemerged on uniforms and other items worn by the police amidst demonstrations against police brutality and racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Marvel is responding.
A spokesperson for Marvel recently told io9 that the publisher is taking the unlicensed use of the imagery by police and that they were standing by their previous message standing against racism that the official Marvel Entertainment Twitter account shared on Sunday, May 31st. Marvel followed that up last Thursday with a post pledging $5 million in support of nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, including a $2 million donation to the NAACP.
The spokesperson also pointed to The Punisher #13 by Matthew Rosenberg, Szymon Kudranski, Antonio Fabela, and Cory Petit from July 2019 to further clarify their stance on the police's use of the Punisher logo. In that issue, as a pair of NYPD officers fanboy over Frank Castle/Punisher, he notices a decal of the skull logo on their car, a decal Frank quickly tears off before making clear that the police and the Punisher do not stand for the same values.
"I'll say this once, we're not the same. You took an oath to uphold the law. You help people. I gave all that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does," Frank says. "You boys need a role model? His name is Captain America, and he'd be happy to have you."
And Marvel isn't alone in the observation. Punisher creator Gerry Conway has been vocal about how he finds the usage of the Punisher logo by law enforcement and military both disturbing and offensive.
"The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system," he said last year. "They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol."
What do you think about Marvel's response to the police wearing the Punisher's skull logo amid protests? Let us know in the comments below.