Should you be considering watching Punisher but haven’t yet watched Daredevil Season 2, this is an important question to ask. To put the issue in perspective, it is important to understand the linkages between Daredevil and Punisher and how knowing what goes on in the former helps us understand the latter.
In a nutshell, what are you likely to lose if you simply dived into the Punisher without knowing what happened in Daredevil?
Frank Castle is introduced in Daredevil
Frank Castle, who plays the role of Punisher, is first introduced to us in Daredevil and to fully appreciate his character it’d help to watch Daredevil. In fact what makes Frank turn out the way he is in Punisher is influenced to a very great extent by the things that happen in Daredevil.
Without a doubt, Frank Castle stands out as an efficient and remorseless killing machine in Daredevil and at first it’s hard to understand why he’s like that until you know his story and what drove him to do what he does. It is from Daredevil that we learn that Frank is actually a respectable person – he is a war hero who has had to endure the pain of watching his entire family wiped out when it’s caught in the crossfire of feuding Mafia gangs. This encounter changes the man and henceforth he’s a man on a mission to “punish” those involved. It is this that makes Frank become a vigilante whose mission is to wipe the Mafia gangs connected with the death of his family.
Daredevil helps us understand Frank’s philosophy on dealing with crime
In Frank’s mind, there’s a very specific way of dealing with criminals and that is murdering them. This comes out clearly in Daredevil when an enraged Frank chains up Daredevil and continues to lecture him on how to deal with criminals. For the main character in Daredevil, killing is anathema and this puts the two on a collision course.
Other factors that would make an understanding of Daredevil helpful
· The relationship between Karen and Frank
While Frank and Daredevil have differing views on how to deal with crime, the latter helps Frank escape when he’s being pursued by members of the Irish Mafia. Frank’s freedom is however short-lived and soon he’s in the hands of the law. From the initial indications, he could end up doing life for murder. This is the point at which a very important character, Karen Page, emerges. Karen is a journalist with a legal background and she delves into Frank’s history and starts to understand him. In fact she starts to empathize with his position and soon the two develop some chemistry. Out of all the characters Frank has had to deal with so far, this is the only person he seems to trust.
· Additional details about who could have killed Frank’s family
Initial investigations by Karen had indicated that Frank’s family was killed when it got caught in the midst of a mafia fight. This story however, keeps changing. Is it possible that the murderer involved was actually not a drug lord but actually somebody who might have a score to settle with Frank? What do we know about Col. Ray Schoonover? Like Frank, Schoonover is a veteran and actually was Frank’s senior when they were on duty abroad. Why, you must wonder, does the Colonel try to kill Karen when she starts to investigate the murders? Is it possible then that the Colonel could in a way be connected with the deaths of the members of Frank’s family?
There’s also the character known as Fisk whom Frank meets in jail. According to Fisk, Frank’s family was killed on the orders of a drug lord known as Blacksmith. It later emerges that the Blacksmith is actually Col. Schoonover.
· Frank is dead, isn’t he?
As Daredevil comes to a close and when Punisher begins, everybody assumes that Frank is dead. When the Blacksmith tries to kill Karen in Daredevil, Frank (who has escaped prison with the help of Fisk) works together with Daredevil to try and locate Blacksmith. The search goes awry as Blacksmith’s men attack a boat in which Frank is riding. The boat explodes and capsizes and everybody, including the NYPD, believes that Frank died in the explosion. That is why the initial conversations in Punisher refer to Frank in the past tense.
So, is it absolutely necessary that you watch Daredevil before watching Punisher? As you can see from the details above, there’s plenty of action in Daredevil that has a bearing on what eventually happens in Punisher. This, however, does not mean that you’ll fail to understand or even enjoy Punisher even if you don’t watch Daredevil.
There are reasons for this. First, even though there’s plenty of carry-over material from Daredevil, Punisher is actually a stand-alone production. True, there are all these details that you might not readily have without watching Daredevil but these are details that you can obtain from the context in which Punisher is produced. Secondly, Frank’s character is properly developed in Punisher and failing to watch Daredevil will not inhibit your appreciation of Punisher. My advice then is simple – if you got the time, watch Daredevil first but if you choose to dive straight onto Punisher, there isn’t much you’ll have lost.