The Punisher is a notoriously violent character and with the high amounts of gun violence and other violent acts in the news, these days its understandable that Marvel Television and Netflix would want to handle Frank Castle’s story with care.
“It wasn’t necessarily a case of needing to consult,” Lightfoot says in regards to instance of extreme violence in the first season of Marvel’s The Punisher. “We work in close collaboration with Marvel and Netflix in every aspect of the show. The first touchstone for me was what they had done with Daredevil season two. I took that as my barometer in terms of the level they pitch the action at. We took that as our line and I think held it relatively steadily through the show.
“As you say, I think what was key to me was that you can’t do the Punisher and have it not be a violent show. But I think it was always showing the cost of that violence. Making it real enough that it hurt and it wasn’t flippant. I think secondly, also seeing that there was a cost to Frank. He didn’t do this stuff and then just blithely walk away. Every situation we put him into had to have a cost, both physical and emotional.”
One moment of violence that recurred throughout the show was the violent death of Frank Castle’s wife, which could be a troubling sticking point for certain viewers.
“I mean, the first scene, what becomes clear is it’s not the actual way she died,” Lightfoot says. “It’s a dream. Each incarnation is different. The idea there is that we start with an image where someone else killed his wife and what is meant to be clear as those dreams progress — and this is a little spoiler-y — is that, in essence, Frank blames himself. The ultimate image is he sees himself shooting his wife. A lot of what is driving his rage and his grief is, deep down, he knows it was because of his own actions. It wasn’t to gratuitously just keep seeing his wife die, but it was actually to build and let the audience in on the fact that he was a man who blamed himself more than anyone else for what had occurred. That self-loathing is what’s driving him.”
The Punisher is now available to stream on Netflix.