The logo has recently been adopted by a select few groups to appropriate violence in the defense of crime.
Photos were taken of a few rioters at the Capitol with Punisher logos on their shirts, backpacks, and hats. People responded to these photos by calling on Marvel to either retire the logo or aggressively enforce their trademark.
Others have suggested making the anti-hero fight systemic injustice, or changing the character to a person-of-color.
For a background on who exactly the Punisher is, and what he represents, here’s a brief summary:
Frank Castle (The Punisher) is depicted as a vigilante who uses murder, kidnapping, torture, and extorsion as his methods of fighting crime. He’s a man driven by grief, and after losing his wife and kids to the mob, his family’s killers became his first target. Since then he has fought crime with a willingness to kill, marking him as very different from many other heroes.
There’s no question that The Punisher is not the hero that Marvel wants people to model their life after. He appeals to a certain crowd, and provides a more edgy version of the stereotypical crime-fighter.
Marvel and DC have both made it abundantly clear in the past that they are not responsible for lunatics who adopt character personas and wreak havoc.
When a man dressed like the Joker killed 12 people and injured another 59 at a screening of the Dark Knight Rises in 2012, DC made it clear they didn’t condone the violence.
When a Nova Scotia man dressed as a cop killed 17 people last year, the police were not to blame for his crimes.
The truth is, lunatics can dress up however the like, but in no way do their actions represent who they dress up as.
One man at the Capitol Hill riot was wearing horns, and a fur hat (and not much else) and called himself the ‘Q Shaman’.
It’s pretty clear that quite a few of the people at the riot were not all that put together.
Jon Bernthal, the actor who played Punisher in a live-action Netflix series called rioters who wore the logo “misguided and lost”.
And he’s certainly right. The character is not real. The comics are not real. They are not meant to be taken as reality, and people who wore the symbol to the Capitol Hill riots are clearly carrying out some misguided fantasy in real life.
The symbol of the Punisher is not one of hatred and division. It’s the symbol of a comic book anti-hero who lost his family and is fighting crime using radical methods. Fans enjoy the action sequences, and the ruthlessness of the character.
Most fans (if not all fans!!) are not taking to the streets and torturing criminals while donning the Punisher logo. People recognize that the Marvel character is a form of entertainment.
Legendary comic book writer Garth Ennis, who was one of the primary writers for the Punisher, said that people who wear the skull have no idea who Frank Castle really is.
“I’ve said this before a couple of times, but no one actually wants to be the Punisher. 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”.
There you have it from one of the main contributors to the character himself: the Punisher doesn’t have anything to do with Trump, with the Capitol Hill riots, or with racism.
He’s a character who some people have tried to emulate by using his symbol for corruption, rather than simply enjoying his persona like any other comic-book enthusiast.
Ennis added a powerful quote not only applying to the Punisher, but to a broader group of cancellations, “No one’s going to suggest that the American flag is now a fascist symbol and should be treated as such, just because a bunch of would-be fascists employed it yesterday”.
The Amazing Spider-Man #129. is the 1st time The Punisher Appeared in a comic book.