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  1. #1
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    Default Is Punisher A superhero, anti-hero or a villain??

    I don't know if this has been asked already, but I'm curious if he is considered a hero or a villain depending on his actions in the comic books.

  2. #2
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    Punisher seems more intent on killing criminals than saving innocents.

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    Amazing Member Adam Allen's Avatar
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    He's a hero, usually. He's villain-ish when the no-kill heroes take a hard-line about the no-killing thing.

    I guess you can consider him an anti-hero generally speaking, in that your purely heroic types like Captain America and Spider-Man can never sanction killing someone intentionally, and are even somewhat honor-bound to try to prevent the death -- if not specifically striving super-hard to necessarily "save" -- even the most evil of the villains. Your anti-hero by contrast will just kill the bad guys. The Punisher being your prototypical example of said anti-hero.

    The thing that allows him to remain on the "hero" side is the fictional convention that allows that any and everyone he kills always deserves it. No stray bullets, mistaken targets -- no misguided-but-on-the-verge-of-redemption types that he mows down along with all those who really deserved it. If you're a harmless type who's just in the room with the truly evil ... you will somehow not catch a bullet.

    But really, this peculiarly clean sort of violence is necessary for the genre, and for the larger one of action in general, really. Even when there's tragedy, there is a point. If there wasn't ... you know, it wouldn't be very entertaining.

  4. #4
    Old school comic book fan WestPhillyPunisher's Avatar
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    I would say that it's somewhat difficult to label Frank. Because he's a ruthless, uncompromising killer, he's damn sure not a hero in the traditional sense of the word, especially not in the eyes of the cape and spandex set who see him as the same sort of menace that they routinely fight. To the cops, there's even more of a moral ambiguity, some tolerate, perhaps even appreciate Frank because he does their dirty work by permanently taking scum off the streets (though they'll never publicly admit to that) while others despise him for perverting the tenets of law and order by being a coldblooded vigilante who acts as judge, jury and executioner. However, Frank is certainly not a villain because he isn't a unhinged, slavering psychopath, he goes out of his way to avoid endangering innocents and never targets cops unless he knows beyond a shadow of doubt that they're incontrovertibly dirty, there's rarely any shades of gray in his world, only the harshest tones of black and white, if you're a bad guy, you're dead meat, plain and simple. Anti-hero would be the best word to describe Frank.
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  5. #5
    Wily Veteran cc008's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPhillyPunisher View Post
    I would say that it's somewhat difficult to label Frank. Because he's a ruthless, uncompromising killer, he's damn sure not a hero in the traditional sense of the word, especially not in the eyes of the cape and spandex set who see him as the same sort of menace that they routinely fight. To the cops, there's even more of a moral ambiguity, some tolerate, perhaps even appreciate Frank because he does their dirty work by permanently taking scum off the streets (though they'll never publicly admit to that) while others despise him for perverting the tenets of law and order by being a coldblooded vigilante who acts as judge, jury and executioner. However, Frank is certainly not a villain because he isn't a unhinged, slavering psychopath, he goes out of his way to avoid endangering innocents and never targets cops unless he knows beyond a shadow of doubt that they're incontrovertibly dirty, there's rarely any shades of gray in his world, only the harshest tones of black and white, if you're a bad guy, you're dead meat, plain and simple. Anti-hero would be the best word to describe Frank.
    couldn't have said it any better

  6. #6
    Fantastic Member Grim Ghost's Avatar
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    The Punisher is a serial killer in the context of the MU. He kills people because it makes him feel good. If you put him in his own universe maybe an anti hero like the characters from pulp novels that Conway completely ripped off to create him.

  7. #7
    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    He's all three depending on the fan and / or the writer. Cap certainly doesn't think he's a hero and beat the snot out of him in Civil War as I recall. He is on this campaign because his family was killed. But IMO if he were sane, he would have stopped this spree long ago. He usually does go after the worst of the worst but still I am not comfortable with the level of sadism he brings to his task. IMO he enjoys that part a little too much to be a hero.
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  8. #8
    Amazing Member Erythnul's Avatar
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    Anti-Hero. He's not a Hero in the sense that saving lives isn't his priority, and he's not a villain because unlike all of the heroes with the no-kill rule, he never falls down that slippery slope that they all fear after you take a life. He only kills the ones that deserve it.

  9. #9
    Old school comic book fan WestPhillyPunisher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Maiden View Post
    He's all three depending on the fan and / or the writer. Cap certainly doesn't think he's a hero and beat the snot out of him in Civil War as I recall.
    If memory serves, that was after Cap brought a couple of low level super villains into his resistance, and Frank, without a moment's hesitation, wasted them on the spot. Steve knew what he was getting into with Frank who doesn't tolerate ANY bad guys, so Cap was, in my mind, more than a bit hypocritical for getting pissed after Frank simply did what he does best. In that context, Steve sacrificed his principles out of desperation to gain an edge over Tony and his forces, because the ONLY time you get in bed with the Punisher is when you want a body count, nothing more, nothing less.
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  10. #10
    I hate Christmas Matternativ's Avatar
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    He's a bore. What? You say that wasn't the question?
    Alright Anti Hero it is then.
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  11. #11
    Mighty Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    In the Ultimate comics, it was pointed out that he was villain because he murdered people.

  12. #12
    Incredible Member Valamist's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the reader really. There will be some who sees him as a hero, and other who see him as a monster. Personally speaking, I think he is a psychopath who the Avengers should have taken out long ago (Well they kinda did once... did they ever explain how he escaped form Tony's prison?). To me, one of the main definitions of being a superhero involves not killing, the act of mercy and giving those who have been evil a chance for redemption. These are all things Frank proudly lacks. If he decides you deserve to die, then there is no going back, and I find that mindset frightening to be honest.

    Thats not to say I hate the character. I actually rather like him actually! In fact Greg Rucka's 2011 Punisher book is one of my all-time favorites. I love how he is written in that book. His portrayed less as a beckon of justice, and more a dead man with a mission. There is that brilliant scene when a kid finds Punisher hiding, offers to help thinking his a superhero, but when he finds out just who it is his helping, he leaves muttering "You are no hero..." I think its a book that really shows Frank as a complex character, rather then the poster boy for extreme vigilantly behavior. It also helped that the series introduced Rachel Cole, who I think was a fantastic character. She really should have been used more after that book ended.

    After reading that I imminently jumped onto Nathan Edmondson's Punisher book and... really did not enjoy it. I think the reason is because there seemed to be a bit too much 'pro-Frank' substance in it. I get that in a Punisher solo book you would want to have that element there, but there just seemed to be no attempt to look at Frank as a complex individual. Evey secondary character seemed to end up worshiping what Frank was doing, and there where very few who even voiced concern, let alone try and stop him. One day I may actually finish that series (Got to around #12 I think?) I think part of my disappointment also came from the fact that I really enjoyed Edmondson's Black Widow series, where I would say he portrayed the whole 'anti-hero' thing much better. Does anyone know what Becky Cloonan's current book is like? Must try it someday...

    Anyway, to me Frank Castle is in no way a hero or inspiring character, but I still think he has a place in the MU. Heck, his kinda one of the examples why I love Marvel/comics. The fact that you can have the likes of Punisher and Squirrel Girl in this one big world is beautiful I find... OK, now I really want to read a Punisher/Squirrel Girl mini-series!
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  13. #13
    I hate Christmas Matternativ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebLurker View Post
    In the Ultimate comics, it was pointed out that he was villain because he murdered people.
    Then everybody there was a Villain.
    "̶l̶̶e̶̶t̶'̶s̶̶ ̶̶h̶̶a̶̶v̶̶e̶̶ ̶̶s̶̶o̶̶m̶̶e̶̶ ̶̶f̶̶u̶̶n̶̶,̶̶ ̶̶t̶̶h̶̶i̶̶s̶̶ ̶̶b̶̶e̶̶a̶̶t̶̶ ̶̶i̶̶s̶̶ ̶̶s̶̶i̶̶c̶̶k̶̶.̶̶ ̶̶i̶̶ ̶̶w̶̶a̶̶n̶̶n̶̶a̶̶ ̶̶t̶̶a̶̶k̶̶e̶̶ ̶̶a̶̶ ̶̶r̶̶i̶̶d̶̶e̶̶ ̶̶o̶̶n̶̶ ̶̶y̶̶o̶̶u̶̶r̶̶ ̶̶d̶̶i̶̶s̶̶c̶̶o̶̶s̶̶t̶̶i̶̶c̶̶k̶̶"
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  14. #14
    Mighty Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matternativ View Post
    Then everybody there was a Villain.
    I recall the old rule of thumb was that in Ultimate, all the superhero characters were cynical jerks (with capital "A"s) at best. Except for Spider-Man.

  15. #15
    Fantastic Member Dr Quinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Ghost View Post
    The Punisher is a serial killer in the context of the MU. He kills people because it makes him feel good. If you put him in his own universe maybe an anti hero like the characters from pulp novels that Conway completely ripped off to create him.
    Serial killers murder people in order to obtain a sexual release which is not Frank's bag at all. I see him more as a wild west style outlaw vigilante transplanted to the modern era. I'm not sure if that makes him a hero or an anti-hero but he's definitely not a superhero.

    Of course, if he existed in the real world he'd have inadvertently killed a whole bunch of undercover cops by now.
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