Frank Castle may have been introduced in Daredevil Season 2 as a client for a distracted Matt Murdock, but Marvel comics readers and film audiences know the character as a stand-alone entity. But do you need to watch Daredevil before The Punisher? It's highly possible that you are a fan of the avenging anti-hero but skipped his Netflix introduction — not everybody is into the legal and/or ninja drama that the Devil of Hell's Kitchen gets into on that series. So you may be worrying that you'll be behind when The Punisher Season 1 premieres on Nov. 17 on Netflix.
Honestly, you're good. Context is important for a character with such a rich history, but The Punisher is its own series with a few connecting characters, but not a lot of crossover. Did you know that Frank Castle's wife kids were killed in front of him? It was at a carousel in the park. Did you know that he'd just gotten back from serving in Afghanistan? Did you know that, much like any other superhero, he turns to vigilantism in order to get justice on those who have wronged him? After his family was killed in a three-way mafia shoot out, he took out all three mafias by himself. That's basically all you need to know from Daredevil, and The Punisher Season 1 will probably recap Frank's backstory.
In fact, much of that backstory is in the trailer, so that bodes well for new audiences. There's what appears to be a kind of fantasy or dream sequence involving his family tragedy, and an update as to his current status. The trailer should also give fans a good taste of Jon Bernthal's performance and Frank Castle's personality. He's a well-drawn character and it's pretty easy to figure out what he's about.
So you can sort of choose your level of engagement here, and jump in to the Netflix Marvel universe wherever you want to. Only a few things could use a little context, so here are some events and characters from Daredevil Season 2 that might figure into The Punisher.
Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) was Matt and Foggy's assistant, but after investigating Frank Castle and becoming fascinated by his story and his motives she decided to become a journalist. (She's also one of Matt's many love interests.) Frank trusts her, and that's pretty key as he basically doesn't trust anybody.
The big bad boss from Daredevil Season 1, also known as the Kingpin, helped Frank escape prison in Season 2 for a price. Vincent D'Onofrio isn't confirmed to appear in The Punisher, but there's always a chance.
Frank's military past is important to him. He didn't want Murdock to use PTSD as a defense, as it would be disrespectful to his peers who were really suffering. That said — while he may not be suffering from PTSD after serving in the military, he still suffered a traumatic experience at that carousel.
There's also that CD that Frank and Karen retrieved from his house before it blew up. It was labeled "Micro" and found under a photo of his unit. Maybe there's more to his military past than meets the eye.
Frank Is Presumed Dead
Just a little bit, and only for a moment. At the very end of Daredevil Season 2, Frank appears in his signature skull attire as the Punisher, but at that time the NYPD already believe he died in a previous scuffle. After the events of The Defenders (spoiler!) he and Matt Murdock have that in common.
So, when The Punisher premieres, that's what has happened to Frank. He returned home as a war hero only to see himself become a dark vigilante anti-hero. Now he's starting over a second time. Other characters from The Punisher comics might factor in to the new series, but his time on Daredevil was more of a prologue — this is where Frank Castle's story really begins.