Tag Archives: Anti-Hero

Anti-Hero Spotlight: The Punisher

Comic book series have given us many anti-heroes to read about, with one example being The Punisher.

The Punisher made his first appearance in issue #129 of Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man on February 1974.  He wears all black clothing with a white skull designed in the middle of his shirt, inspiring fear throughout the underworld.  His outfit consists of a black t-shirt, black hair, black boots, and carries some form of weapon by his side.


His alter ego is Frank Castle, a war veteran who returned home from the Vietnam War.  Frank Castle became a master of many skills including martial arts, guerilla warfare, stealth tactics, and other skillful weapons.  Castle’s wife and 2 children were killed by a mob during a shootout in New York City’s Central Park, which initiated his 1-man war on all mobs and criminals.


This violent vigilante has been portrayed in 3 films and one Netflix series in total.  He made his first film appearance in The Punisher, an American-Australian action film released in 1989.  Dolph Lundgren starred as Frank Castle/Punisher, setting the stage for the original back story behind the anti-hero.


Thomas Jane lead the starring role as The Punisher in the 2004 film The Punisher.  The film starred Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/The Punisher, John Travolta as Howard Saint, and Rebecca Romijn as Joan.  Fans of Thomas Jane know him as Ray Drecker in Hung and David Drayton in Stephen King’s The Mist. 


            A few years after the film’s release, Punisher: War Zone was released in 2008.  Punisher: War Zone is an American-German action film starring Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, and Colin Salmon.  Rather than serve as the sequel to The Punisher, Punisher: War Zone serves as a reboot that follows the original story on Frank Castle’s war on crime and corruption.


The latest installment of The Punisher was in season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix.  Jon Bernthal starred as Daredevil’s latest adversary who seeks out the man behind the mob hit in Central Park.


Frank Castle/The Punisher is one ruthless anti-hero who is obsessed with vengeance against his family’s murder.  After returning home from the Vietnam War, he became a changed man who sees the world in a different light.  He may be a sadistic vigilante, but he takes his violence out at criminals and members of the mob.  His traumatic past keeps him motivated to seek out revenge for his family’s death.


Superheroes and Antihero

We are all too familiar with superheroes through reading comics by Marvel and DC comics.  Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, aiming to rid the world of evil.  Growing up in America, we always looked up to a superhero that would fight the bad guys before chaos erupts the area.

A superhero is someone who possesses extraordinary talents or superhuman powers.  The ultimate moral goal within every superhero is to protect us from all of the evil in the world.  Some common traits that we associate with superheroes include having a strong moral code, extraordinary powers, concealing with a secret identity, donning a distinctive costume, having a gallery of archenemies, a detailed backstory, and having an underlying motif/theme.  Each trait is very similar to many of the superheroes we follow through comic book.  Some familiar superheroes we know include Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Wolverine, and other notorious characters.


On the other side of the spectrum are the antiheroes.  Antiheroes are protagonists who lack conventional heroic qualities such as courage, idealism, and morality.  Many antihero figures possess darker personality traits including dishonesty, disagreeableness, and aggressiveness.  It wasn’t until the late 1950s where literature started creating antihero characters in stories.  Early works of literature portrayed antiheroes as alienated figures that were unable to communicate with the world.  Some familiar antiheroes in works of literature included Severus Snape, Raoul Duke, and Jay Gatsby.


Antiheroes have been portrayed in television and film within the past few decades.  In fact, the first antihero character on TV was Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files.  James Gardner portrayed what would become one of the most iconic characters in television history.  Hollywood introduced us to a myriad of antihero figures including Walter White, Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan, Nancy Botwin, Frank Underwood, and many other conniving characters.


So when it comes down to superheroes and antiheroes, I enjoy learning about the antihero characters.  Antiheroes seem like evil people, but I understand how they constantly learn to improve on themselves by helping out those less fortunate.  Many of these characters have a crazy backstory and they work to help others.  Walter White only supported his family by creating methamphetamine because he felt unappreciated in his career.  Learning about the origin of the antihero character is intriguing because it is interesting to see what kind of life they lead.