The Punisher is perhaps one of Marvel’s grittiest and most blood-thirsty anti-heroes out there, and with the release of Netflix’s Punisher standalone series, I thought we should take a look at the show’s source material–and at some of the most brutal and straight-up badass feats the skull-wearing man has executed.
He teamed up with Batman, and he terrified The Joker
The Punisher has had his fair share of hero team-ups, joining up with the likes of Deadpool, Wolverine, Robocop, and even hip-hop artist Eminem (yes, you read that correctly). However, none of these team ups even come remotely close to the badassery that was his 1990 crossover Deadly Knights.
In this universe-combining event, Punisher tracks down The Joker and beats him to submission before putting a gun to his forehead, ready to pull the trigger. Usually, this is the part where Joker laughs maniacally, as he knows Batman would never finish him off. Frank Castle isn’t Batman, though, and once Joker realises that the Punisher is the most stone-cold killers he’s ever faced, he feels true terror. Batman arrives just in time to save him, even telling the Joker to “run for his life” before the two heroes engage in a fist fight.
He killed a dude… using another dude
This one is as exactly as it sounds. Frank can get pretty creative with his kills, and is a master in using machine guns, explosives, and blades to take out enemies. But in one instance, he just straight-up uses a guy’s head to crushing another baddie’s skull. It happens in The Punisher MAX #5, when Frank grabs a grown man’s noggin, picks him up, and uses him like a battering ram made of meat and bone–which, to readers’ surprise, works quite effectively, as it manages to smash the mobster’s face into red mush.
He threw a woman in a polar bear pit
What’s more Punisher than weaponizing a pack of polar bears? That’s exactly what Frank Castle does in The Punisher Vol. 4 #4. when he finally comes face to face with Ma Gnucci, the ruthless leader of the Gnucci crime family. Not only does Frank destroy her underlings with absolute prejudice, but he also decides to get creative with taking Ma and her son out, which leads him to throwing her into a bear enclosure. The bears rip off her son’s head and then maul Ma so bad that she loses all her limbs and scalp, leaving her looking like a roughed-up jellybean. In the midst of all of this, Punisher even earns the respect of the bears by punching one in the face.
He kicked the same woman, mauled by bears, into a house fire
Somehow Ma Gnucci manages to survive her horrific first encounter with Mr. Castle at the zoo and returns to mansion to plot her revenge. Unfortunately for her, The Punisher gets word that she’s still kicking (poor choice of words by me) and heads to finish the job in The Punisher Vol. 5 #12. Not only is it an act of sheer brutality, but it’s also kind of hilarious. And to add insult injury, it’s her house that is burning down as well. Touch luck, Ma.
He shot Wolverine in the face (and one other super painful place), then ran him over with a steamroller
Sometimes Frank doesn’t play well with other heroes and vigilantes. Okay, this is probably the case most of the time, but none more than when he ran in with everyone’s favourite hairy Canadian, Wolverine, in The Punisher Vol. 5 #17. Abusing the fact he knew Logan would regenerate, Punisher takes the chance to test out some of his signature brutality, shooting off Logan’s face and testicles. If that wasn’t enough Frank then decides to run over him with a steamroller as well, which I can only imagine had the same effect on Logan’s body as what happens to toothpaste when you roll up the bottom of the tube.
He used magic Uzis and turned the Hulk into dust with Doctor Strange’s powers
The Punisher has had a lot of weird stuff happen to him through his years of comic shenanigans, and one of these standout moments is when he inherits Dr. Strange’s powers. Using the abilities as the sorcerer supreme, Frank Castle summons magical Uzis and rocket launchers (because why wouldn’t he, right?) and even turns The Hulk into dust, which is the definition of comic book overkill.
He killed the ENTIRE MARVEL UNIVERSE
In an alternate universe comic titled Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, Frank Castle’s picnicking family is killed in the crossfire of a superhero brawl–not by the mob like they are in his origin story. This event sets in motion one of the Punisher’s most brutal killing sprees, as he systematically takes out each and every one of Marvel’s finest. Frank starts with the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and eventually makes his way up, eventually tricking the X-Men to fly to the moon for a fight. He then nukes the damn moon. Finally, after killing off everyone, he realises only one is left, and turns the gun on himself.
He held Archie at gunpoint
The hit show Riverdale has reintroduced the 78-year-old comic series Archie back to mainstream media, but many don’t know that none other than the Punisher once strutted the streets of Riverdale in the 1994 comic Archie Meets the Punisher. In this whacky crossover, Frank Castle purchases a ticket to visit the seemingly quaint town of Riverdale in order to track down a drug-running criminal named Melvin Jay, also known as “Red Fever.” Unfortunately for Archie, he is a dead ringer for Red Fever, a similarity that lands him in hot water with the Punisher, who puts a gun right under his nose. Don’t worry though, Frank manages to figure out Archie isn’t Red just before he blows his head off, and, as an act of good faith, even chaperones the Riverdale high dance. (Look, it’s a really weird crossover, alright?)
He smothered The Russian with an obese man
Despite contrary belief, The Punisher isn’t totally against teamwork, and the The Punisher Vol. 5 #11 comic proves it. When the assassin known as “The Russian” shows up to Frank’s apartment in attempts to turn him into a human pretzel, all hell breaks loose, and the two use everything and anything to try and kill each other, including other people. Using his friendly and plump neighbour, Mr. Bumpo, as a smothering tool, the Punisher suffocates the downed Soviet giant, cutting off all chances of breathing by pressing masses of flesh into his face. As far as dying goes, this is probably one of the worst ways to go out.
He went back in time to kill Al Capone
The Punisher hates criminals, everyone knows that. But who is the biggest criminal in American history? The father of organised crime himself, Al Capone, that’s who. In The Punisher Vol. 5 #8, Frank attempts to take down every gangster ever–and potentially mess up timelines saving his family–by getting Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four to send him back in time. Of course, the legendary crook is at the top of his kill list. And before you say, “Wait, wouldn’t it just be easier to time-travel back to the day his family died?”–it turns out his Capone-murdering sequence was all just a dream.