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Rudolf Horns
Rudolf Horns

Marvel's The Punisher - Season 1

The first season of the American streaming television series The Punisher, which is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, sees Frank Castle uncover a conspiracy while seeking revenge for the death of his family. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise. The season was produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios and Bohemian Risk Productions, with Steve Lightfoot serving as showrunner.

Marvel's The Punisher - Season 1

Jon Bernthal stars as Castle, alongside Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Daniel Webber, Paul Schulze, Jason R. Moore, Michael Nathanson, Jaime Ray Newman, and Deborah Ann Woll. Development on The Punisher as a spin-off from Daredevil began by January 2016, and it was ordered to series in April. Lightfoot was announced as executive producer and showrunner, with Bernthal and Woll reprising their roles from Daredevil. Filming took place in New York City from October 2016 to April 2017. Practical effects were augmented by the visual effects department, including the addition of muzzle flashes and gore to fight scenes. The season explores post-traumatic stress disorder for military veterans, and depicts "all sides" of the United States gun control debate.

The season premiered in New York City on November 6, 2017, with the full season of thirteen episodes released on November 17 on Netflix, and received mixed to positive reviews, with Bernthal's performance, action sequences and improvements to its source material from the previous films gaining praise, but criticism towards its pacing and amount of violence. A surprise release had been planned for October, but was cancelled following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. A second season was ordered in December 2017.[1]

By January 2016, ahead of the Daredevil season two release, Netflix was in "very early development" on a spin-off series titled The Punisher, and was looking for a showrunner. The series would be centered on Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, and was described as a stand-alone series apart from those leading up to The Defenders crossover event.[18][19][20] That April, Netflix officially ordered a full 13 episode season of The Punisher, confirmed Bernthal's involvement, and named Steve Lightfoot as executive producer and showrunner.[2][21] Asked whether he would rather have a 10 episode season given the longer 13 episode-seasons have been criticized for other Marvel Netflix series, Lightfoot said that he wanted the season to be a "slow burn show" that was character-driven, and that he felt they had the right amount of story to fill the 13 episodes.[22]

Lightfoot had a loose idea of what the "journey of Season 1" would be when he joined the series, and this was fleshed-out and altered in the writers room throughout work on the season.[22] Executive producer Jeph Loeb said the season would ask the questions "Who is Frank? What is Frank going to do? And who's going to try and stop Frank?"[12] Lightfoot chose not to adapt any specific version of the character from the comics and instead looked to the work that was done in Daredevil defining the character. That series' depiction was what got Lightfoot interested in the character, and he wanted it to dictate this series' direction. The Punisher begins with a teaser featuring Castle killing the gang members that he believes are responsible for his family's death, which is a conclusion to the character's story in Daredevil. The series then jumps ahead to the character "stuck in the past and sort of crippled by this grief".[23] The season also depicts some events from before the second season of Daredevil, which Bernthal described as being "loose with chronology";[24] this includes an explanation of Castle's time serving in Kandahar, which had been mentioned in Daredevil and was something that Lightfoot felt this series should address.[25]

The main cast for the season includes Bernthal as Frank Castle / Punisher,[2] Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman / Micro,[3][4] Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani,[3] Daniel Webber as Lewis Wilson,[5][6] Paul Schulze as William Rawlins, Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle, Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein, Jaime Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman,[5] and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page.[7] Bernthal and Woll both reprise their roles from Daredevil.[2][7]

In August 2017, Shohreh Aghdashloo was revealed to be portraying Farah Madani, Dinah's mother, in a recurring role for the season.[8] Also recurring in the season are Jordan Mahome as Isaac Lange,[10] Kelli Barrett as Maria Castle,[11] Aidan Pierce Brennan as Frank Castle Jr.,[12] Nicolette Pierini as Lisa Castle,[13] Ripley Sobo as Leo Lieberman, Kobi Frumer as Zach Lieberman,[11] and Tony Plana as Rafael Hernandez.[14] Rob Morgan and Royce Johnson reprise their roles from previous Marvel Netflix series as Turk Barrett and Brett Mahoney, respectively.[16][17] Geoffrey Cantor and Clancy Brown reprise their respective Daredevil roles as Mitchell Ellison and Ray Schoonover.[15]

Stephanie Maslansky, who served as costume designer for the first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, had the choice between designing for The Defenders or for The Punisher due to a scheduling conflict between the two productions, and chose to work on The Defenders.[27] Instead, Lorraine Calvert designed the costumes for The Punisher after introducing the look of the character in the second season of Daredevil; her take on the character's "beloved" comic-inspired costume balances the original design, Bernthal's needs as an actor and interpretation of the character, and Lightfoot's intentions for the tone of the series.[28]

Visual effects supervisor Greg Anderson and vendor FuseFX returned from the first season of Luke Cage to create the visual effects for The Punisher, creating 855 visual effects shots across the season. Their team changed in size for each episode, but generally consisted of 15 to 20 people.[37] Due to the realistic tone of the series, which does not feature any superpowers, the visual effects department had to work even harder than usual to ensure their effects were believable,[38][37] with a focus on creating "gunplay, knifeplay, explosions and other real world effects." They preferred to augment practical effects rather than start from scratch to help with realism as well as the series' budget and schedule.[37]

As an example of the work Fuse did during fight sequences, Anderson discussed the scene where Russo and his men attack Micro's basement. Though practical prop weapons were used for the fight, Fuse had to augment the action with computer generated blood, knives, and muzzle flashes, as well as a computer generated head that is blown apart by a shotgun. The sequence was thoroughly storyboarded and pre-visualized to plan out the exact visuals required. Because the scene, like many others throughout the season, required a dark environment the visual effects team had to work with the cinematography department to decide where the low-light should be practical and where color-grading could be used to alter a more brightly-lit set given it is difficult to integrate visual effects with dark images. Conversely to this scene, a sequence such as when Russo blows up a hideout required minimal visual effects work because the explosion was shot practically, with Fuse mainly just adding some windows to the building that were removed for the explosion.[37]

Bernthal and Woll appeared at New York Comic Con in October 2016 to officially announce the start of production on the series and the latter's involvement,[7] while Bernthal presented exclusive footage from the series at San Diego Comic-Con 2017.[42] A teaser was revealed on Netflix in August 2017 after the credits of the final episode of The Defenders.[43] Also in the month, the series' Twitter account revealed the episode titles as Morse code messages.[44] In September 2017, the series' Instagram account released viral videos made to look like security footage,[45] while episodic photos and a poster for the season with a redacted release date were also released.[46] On September 20, the official trailer for the season was released. Andrew Liptak of The Verge said it "sets up The Punisher with its own distinct tone that's different from the other Marvel Netflix shows. It wades into government conspiracies and hacking, which is reminiscent of shows like CBS's Person of Interest or USA's Mr. Robot, but with more gunfire."[47] Nerdist's Kendall Ashley called the trailer "intense, super bloody, and has [me] INCREDIBLY pumped for the show's premiere." She added that "if this trailer is any indication, The Punisher is definitely going to live up to fan expectations". Ashley felt the inclusion of "One" by Metallica in the trailer "helps paint Frank as a badass unlike any we've seen on the Marvel Netflix shows so far."[48] Cooper Hood, writing for Screen Rant felt the trailer would "only increase the fever for" the series despite it not yet having a release date, with it more closely fitting the "mold" of the character than the more cryptic videos previously released. He also found it "well-cut" to the beat of the song, which he praised as "amplifying the intensity".[49]

By the end of September, Netflix had updated their viral website for the New York Bulletin to include a profile page for Karen Page. After revealing her login credentials in a post on Daredevil's Facebook page, readers who visited Page's profile found images referencing Page's research into Castle from the second season of Daredevil.[50] Bernthal and other members of the cast were scheduled to appear at New York Comic Con 2017 to promote the season,[51] but the panel was cancelled after the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting.[52] Two weeks later, a second trailer was released revealing the season's release date of November 17, 2017. Tom Philip at GQ was not very enthused with the trailer, saying it was "hard to get super jazzed about another gritty, ultra-violent, gun-loving, non-superhero show right now." He was critical of the "utilitarian-sounding writing" in the trailer, but felt the chemistry between Bernthal and Woll would be a reason to watch the series. Philip also felt the addition of Moss-Bachrach was "curious", and said "at least [the series is] a swing for the fences from a TV studio that tends to play it astoundingly safe."[53] Scott Mendelson of Forbes noted that the gun violence sequences featured were mainly "flashbacks with military men doing military things in full fatigues or scenes of bad guys shooting at not-so-bad guys with heavy gunfire", which was a strong contrast to the first trailer. Mendelson felt this shift in the marketing strategy could have been in response to the Las Vegas shooting.[54] TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington agreed with Mendelson, noting how the trailer "plays up Castle's motivations and the more human side of the story", while still looking "gritty and dark, [and] Bernthal's portrayal looking as strong as ever." Etherington also criticized the soundtrack of the trailer.[55] The Punisher had its red carpet premiere on November 6, 2017, in New York City at the 34th Street AMC Loews theatre.[56] 041b061a72


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