When mobsters slew his family, Frank Castle vowed to spend the rest of his life avenging them. Trained as a Marine and equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, he now wages a one-man war against crime as the Punisher.
Born in Queens, New York to parents of Sicilian ancestry, the young Francis Castiglione enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, eventually becoming a U.S. Marine Captain. He married his wife, Maria, who was already pregnant with their first child prior to his enlistment.
During his time in the USMC, Castiglione graduated from boot camp and then went on to United States Marine Corps School of Infantry. While still in training, Castiglione met Phan Bighawk, an American Indian scout. He was assigned to be Castiglione's guide, and through Phan, he learned how to survive in the wilderness.
Following his training, Castiglione served in the Vietnam War in the Special Forces Unit as a point man. He fought in numerous engagements and was the only survivor (from both sides) of a Viet Cong assault on Valley Forge Firebase in 1971. For heroism in the line of duty, he was decorated with the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, 3 times the Silver Star and Bronze Stars, 4 times the Purple Heart, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
After finishing his second tour of duty in Vietnam, he came back to the United States and had a second child with his wife. He then signed up for a third tour to which he illegally re-entered the U.S. Marine Corps under the name of Frank Castle in order to return to battle. Castle served a total of 4 years in the Vietnam War (1968 to 1971). Six years later (1976) after the American involvement in Vietnam ended, Castle ran Special Black op training missions for Marine Recon Commandos in the upper New York State area.
While on leave, he took his wife and two small children to Central Park in New York City. Coincidentally, the family happened upon the scene of a mob killing on the Sheep's Meadow green in the park. Fearing witnesses, the mobsters murdered Castle's family in cold blood and escaped. Castle managed to survive the attack but was deeply traumatized by the incident. He was going to testify in court to identify the shooters, but Castle was denied this since the New York police department were deeply connected with the Mafia. He decided not to return to Marine duty, but instead, outfitted himself with assorted weapons and a battle suit with displayed a large death's head on the chest, and embarked on a one-man anti-crime campaign throughout New York City. Castle devoted the rest of his life to eradicating organized crime, using the nom de guerre of the Punisher.
The Punisher used his combat experience (four years as a US Marine Corps Captain in a special operations unit in the Vietnam War), guerrilla warfare (combat assault attacks, assassinations, ambushes, hit and runs, bombings, using the enemies' own money, weapons, and supplies against them), urban warfare (using the crowded city of New York to blend in and disappear), psychological warfare (putting fear into the hearts of criminals), using detective-like skills (talking to people, reading obtained files on the people he goes after, tracking and surveilling the enemy), always adapting to the enemy such as using the Mafia's own methods and tactics against them (interrogating and torturing suspects to death in order to get information from them) and whatever resources and means may be necessary to do so, ranging from light anti-tank weaponry to enraged polar bears, piranhas, and even a hydrogen bomb.
The Punisher fought virtually about every known criminal organization, including the Italian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, the Chinese Triads, Jamaican Yardies, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Irish Mob, biker gangs, street gangs, gunrunning militias, muggers, killers, rapists, psychopaths, sadists, pedophiles, and corrupt cops. The Punisher also assaulted such criminal business enterprises as drugs, weapons smuggling, money laundering and human trafficking. The Punisher fought organized crime long enough to know their modus operandi and predict their actions. Many of these organizations tried to kill the Punisher, using both their own men and hired contract killers. But the Punisher managed to kill almost every type of assassin, hitman, bounty hunter and mercenary sent after him.
The Punisher was highly mobile. He had many bases of operations and did not limit himself to working only in New York city. He has been to many places in the U.S. and around the globe fighting crime such as the British Isles, Latin America (Central and South America), Europe and Russia. The Punisher had an extensive criminal record due to his activities. Law enforcement such as the police, the FBI, the CIA and even S.H.I.E.L.D. were aware of his existence and made many attempts to capture him; however, many rank-and-file officers were reluctant to take action against the Punisher because they largely agreed with him. The Punisher himself disregarded what police and the public thought of him. The Punisher killed corrupt cops, but in doing so stirred police into heightened action against him. Castle was also caught and imprisoned (generally in Ryker's Island) many times, but always escaped.
Civil War and Beyond
Initially Castle was not concerned about the civil war between the heroes until the government started using superpowered criminals to enforce the law. This act made Castle enter the war on the side of Captain America and the Secret Avengers. After rescuing Spider-Man from Pro-Registration forces he brought the beaten and unconscious hero to the Anti-Registration hideout. Some heroes were apprehensive about having the vigilante in their midst while some were outraged not wanting him there at all, but after he assured them that he could get them into the Baxter Building Captain America allowed him to join. Unfortunately on the eve of the final battle two supervillians attempted to join the Anti-Registration forces and the Punisher killed them outright. Enraged Captain America attacked Castle for his lack of self-control and for not finding the better man within himself. When the war was over Frank found himself on the run from G.W. Bridge and S.H.I.E.L.D once again.
After the Skrull Invasion, Norman Osborn became the head of S.H.I.E.L.D and made it into H.A.M.M.E.R, While Frank wanted to kill Norman by assassinating him with a rifle and tried killing him but failed to do so. The Sentry stopped the bullet from killing Norman. Sentry went up to fight Frank. While Frank was losing, he hid in his van until an unknown man named Henry led him to hide his hideout. Henry then gave some information on a drug ring and wanted the Punisher to take them out and take photos of it. He did it and it made the news papers. Norman Osborn read it and ordered the Hood to have Frank killed. The Hood needed help to take Frank down,so he brought back Microchip from the dead. The Hood said he would bring back his son if he took out the Punisher. After Microchip failed to do so, The Hood summoned back some super-villians from the dead to help take out the Punisher. The Hood then took G.W. Bridge's wife away and killed her, while his son was kidnapped. The Hood also took Frank's family out of their grave. Frank then had to see the Hood and Microchip, with G.W. Bridge tied up. The Hood said to kill him so he could have his family back from the dead and Microchip's son. Frank refused to do so. Microchip took Hood's gun and killed G.W.Bridge. Microchip's son and Frank's family were brought back alive. Frank was shocked to see his family alive. Frank used FireBrand flames to burn his family and Microchip's son alive. The Hood and Frank battled it out. While Frank was on the losing side, he bribed the Hood with one of his family members. The Hood let him go and told him that Henry was Jigsaw's son. The Punisher went back to his van, kicking Henry out. Henry then said "Don't you want to undo what happened in the past?" Frank gave a straight "No" and drove off.
Soon after, Osborn dispatched Daken and dozens of H.A.M.M.E.R. agents to kill Frank. When Frank and Daken fought one on one Daken emerged victorious slicing Frank to pieces. Those pieces were then recovered by Moloids and Man-Thing.
The Punisher as Franken-Castle Added by Scion of Balance After his death at the hands of Daken, Castle was resurrected by Morbius and The Legion of Monsters as a patchwork Frankenstein-like creature to help them against a group of Samurai-like men lead by the mysterious Hellsgaard who killed monsters for "not being of God". At first Frank refused to help them out and disappeared into the sewers. The Living Mummy later tried to reason with him and showed him Wolfman's armory. Again he refused. When the group attacked the monsters hideout Frank was angered by the death of a child Moloid and fought back. After intense violent battles alongside the Legion of Monsters against Hellsgaard he would eventually take his revenge against Daken in Tokyo but was interrupted by Wolverine. At the conclusion of the series, the character was transformed back into a normal human through use of the namesake of Ulysses Bloodstone.
After healing completely he started hunting the Hood but without results so he went after Micro. On his way a woman in a black leather suit attacked him. She pretended she was his burnt wife but it was later revealed that it was Lady Gorgon who he had also burned working with Jigsaw. This all ended with a final confrontation between Jigsaw, Henry, and Frank. Lady Gorgon was killed by Master Yoshiokya, a leader of the Hand and Jigsaw fell in a fire. Frank told Henry that if he ever saw him again, he would kill Henry.
The Punisher differs from the majority of vigilantes. The Punisher works outside the traditional system of law and order. He is a remorseless and cold-blooded killer. The Punisher possesses no superhuman abilities and succeeds solely through ingenuity and the rigorous training of his military upbringing, a finely honed killer instinct and an extensive arsenal of weapons culled from fallen foes and military allies.
Unlike most heroes, Castle has no dual identity, no "real world" job, no known hobbies, and few friends. He spends nearly all of his time planning his next hit, stopping only to recover from injuries or fatigue. Money taken from criminals is used to purchase food, weapons, ammunition, and pay the rent of his many safehouses.
The Punisher also disregards what the police and the public think of him, and is known to kill corrupt cops. He is viewed as a dangerous criminal by the public and by most members of the superhero community.
Views on the Criminal Justice System
Castle's years of vigilantism have made him increasingly cynical about the capabilities of the American justice system, especially in regard to it's failure to successfully prosecute his family's homicide, due to the witnessed killer's false alibi and the mob's influence in the New York City Police Department. Allegedly, the reason Castle kills those he regards as criminals (which include both circumstantially alleged and incontrovertible individuals) is his desire not to see average people become victims of crime and endure the same kind of pain and loss he experienced. Some members of law enforcement are reluctant to arrest the Punisher because they believe he often deals with criminals that the law can't convict. Castle stated he did not want others to follow his path, on the grounds that his personal war against criminals was his alone, and he harbored resentment toward other (usually short-lived) vigilantes, taking exception at what he saw as their lack of "professionalism".
The Punisher knows that no matter how many hundreds or thousands of criminals he kills, it doesn't make a difference in the world. Frank knows that his actions don’t make the world a safer place, as seen when a slaving operation continued despite the Punisher's extermination of one cell.
Powers and Abilities
As the Punisher he has no superhuman powers.
While he was Franken-Castle, Castle had superhuman strength to an unknown degree.
Castle once had a bloodstone fragment which had enhanced him in currently unknown ways, it had also given him some degree of a healing factor which has allowed him to recover from serious injuries including restoring him to his old self.
Master Martial Artist: Castle is a seasoned combat veteran of exceptional skills. He is well-versed in the arts of warfare and hand-to-hand combat. His styles of choice being Nash Ryu Ju Jitsu, (the four-style martial art founded by his Sensei Adam Nash and the Marine Corps LINE combat system) Ninjutsu, Shorin-Ryu, Hwarangdo, and Chin Na. He is an exceptional knife fighter who carries up to 3 or 4 different types of edged weapons, preferring the knife he learned to fight with in the USMC: the Ka-bar.
Expert Marksman: He is an exceptional marksman who is sometimes depicted as being ambidextrous in this respect. He is skilled in sharpshooting and knife throwing
Expert Pilot: Castle received airborne training with the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Special Operations.
Demolitions Expert: He also received a U.S. Navy SEAL, UDT (Underwater Demolition Team), LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) training.
Expert Tactician: Armed solely with conventional weapons and motivated by a fanatical hatred for criminals like those who murdered his family, the Punisher has single-handedly incapacitated up to a dozen well-armed and experienced opponents in a single encounter and escaped uninjured. It is his military training and his attention to detail that allows him to achieve this.
The Punisher possesses the normal human strength of a 6'1" 200-pound man, who engages in intensive and extensive physical exercise. Frank is capable of press lifting up to twice his bodyweight and can press lift 400 lbs. Frank engages in a brutal regimen of calisthenics, katas and firing range practice daily, maintaining his combat skills and he does not drink alcohol or do drugs.
Castle once Relied on a "synaptic glue" medication to keep his mind together due to brain damage caused by his fight with Daken and becoming frankencastle. Non-Superhuman Physical Conditioning: Castle is as susceptible to physical injury and disease as any other normal human, often having to rely more on strategy than strength when up against a superhuman opponent.
Military equipment as appropriate
The Punisher's first outfit was a form-fitting black Kevlar bodysuit with a large white skull on his chest. According to Frank Castle, this drew the attention and the aim of the criminals to his heavily armored body, instead of his more vulnerable head. Each tooth of the skull was actually spare ammunition for firearms.
Punisher chose not to utilize any costume outside of a black shirt with a white skull splashed across the front. His other clothing, which sometimes included combat boots, blazers, leather jackets, trench coats, bulletproof vests, body armor, black battle dress uniforms, and camouflage outfits was worn for the sake of protection or camouflage in urban and wilderness areas.
The Punisher employs a vast array of conventional firearms including machine guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives, explosives and other weapons culled from common and organized criminals and military sources during his operations. A vast majority of his weapons have roots in military forces around the world, and typically employs weapons and accessories limited to military operations. The Punisher often customizes his weapons for greater effectiveness with both standard and custom items including magnified optics, reflex sights, night vision scopes, flashlights, grenade launchers, sound and flash suppressors, bipods, high-capacity magazines and drums and various ammunition including hollow point or armor piercing bullets.
Punisher usually uses rubber "mercy bullets" (non-lethal ammunition) when guest-starring in other comics, most notably Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Captain America in the 70's and 80's.
Used to have a pet rottweiler called "Max" which he saved from animal poachers.
Number plates on The Punisher's black Pontiac has "Year One" on it; reference to The Company that worked on making the 5 GTOs for the movie.
According to Don Daley, then editor of The Punisher Vol 2, #98, in his response to a fan mail, he stated that the Punisher's version of justice is classically based as "an eye for an eye".
In the early 1990s, flagging sales drove Marvel to place the then-popular character The Punisher in several guest appearances in The 'Nam. After the series' conclusion, an epilogue of sorts was published in the form of a Punisher special, The Punisher in the 'Nam: Final Invasion.
As of the mid-2000s, Castle's timeline remained untouched when Marvel adjusted the time frames of other characters. His history has never been altered or moved up; he has effectively aged in real time from the Vietnam War.
In the miniseries Born, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Castle's roots are traced back to Vietnam, during his third tour of duty in Vietnam, where he undergoes a psychological and possibly supernatural transformation into the Punisher in order to survive a massive assault on his fortification by the combined forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army.
- The Punisher once went after the Runaways when they were hired by the Kingpin to steal a hyperdrive device. This resulted in one of the more embarassing moments in Castle's life, when he was dispatched by a single punch from 12-year-old Molly Hayes.
- Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine has stated that the second part of his band's hit song "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" is about the Punisher. The lyrics themselves only reinforce this feeling:
Wage the war on organized crime
Sneak attacks, repel down the rocks
Behind the lines
Some people risk to employ me
Some people live to destroy me
Either way they die
- Megadeths first album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good was also a reference to the Punisher, being that the title track of the album was based on early punisher comics.
Appearances in Other Media
- A film adaptation was directed by Mark Goldblatt (later the film editor of X-Men: The Last Stand) and written by Boaz Yakin. It starred Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher. The film's most recognizable deviation from the comic books is the lack of the character's signature skull logo.
- A second film adaptation was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh (who wrote Die Hard: With a Vengeance) and starred Thomas Jane for the lead role with John Travolta as the main villain Howard Saint. This movie adaptation was more faithful to the comic book and was loosely based on the Welcome Back, Frank comic. It was released in the U.S. on April 16, 2004. It was met with mixed reviews by critics and earned $33.8 million at the box office. Lionsgate came with a limited edition (10,000 produced) mini-comic book written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, chronicling Castle's time in Delta Force in the Gulf War, and later in the FBI.
- A third film, entitled Punisher: War Zone was released on December 5, 2008, but had no relation to the 2004 film. It was directed by Lexi Alexander with Ray Stevenson in the Punisher role and Dominic West as the villain Jigsaw.
The Punisher appears in the Marvel Legends toy-line in series 4,6 and 8, modeled after his movie appearance, the Urban Legends boxed set, in the Face Off two-pack series in his classic outfit, and a variant similar to Tim Bradstreet's design.
- Punisher (toy) Marvel Legends Series 4
The Punisher (toy) Marvel Legends Urban Legends Gift Pack
Punisher (toy) Marvel Legends Face-Off Series 2