(Image: Marvel Studios)
WARNING: Spoilers of season 2 of Daredevil.
Daredevil investigates a series of horrible mass murders committed against criminals in New York City, As he does so, the audience imagines that he is hunting down a sociopathic supervillain. Then we learn that this demented killer is a familiar character in the Marvel universe. It's Frank Castle--the Punisher.
Frank Castle is not a nice guy. But he's usually not presented as a mass murdering lunatic.
As we learn about Castle's life, we can become sympathetic to him. But Stephen Gutowski of The Federalist goes further seeing Castle as a sympathetic character. He says that the Punisher the hero of the second season, if not the most moral character in it.
In the DC universe, the old question is "Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker?" Doing so would make the world a better, safer place. Batman doesn't because he wants to rely on the criminal justice system. Daredevil has a similar view.
The Punisher has zero faith in the ability or willingness of the state to establish justice. So he'll do the necessary work himself. Gutowski writes:
Daredevil, who’s willing to break every law and ethical rule on the road to putting villains in useless prisons but unwilling to go any further, willingly participates in a vicious cycle that makes a mockery of justice. Allowing the revolving door of crime to continue ad infinitum is naive at best and immoral at worst. The Punisher realizes this and attempts to end the cycle instead.
When Daredevil asks him what he’s going to do, The Punisher responds, “I’ll do what’s required.” I think that sums it up pretty well. Heck, even Daredevil himself eventually admits the Punisher is right.
Is Castle's solution viable in our real world? Gutowski says that it has been at least once. When the corrupt Colombian government was unable to take down the drug lord Pablo Escobar, a brutal vigilante group called Los Pepes did:
The Colombian government formed its own pseudo-military force, the search bloc, to fight Escobar, but it was never as effective as Los Pepes. Los Pepes killed and intimidated Escobar’s closest allies and associates. They applied the pressure that forced Escobar into hiding and, eventually, into the gunfire of the search bloc, who killed him.
Los Pepes operated in a reality where there were no good options and vigilantism may well have been justified. Like the Punisher, they did what was required. Of course, the Punisher wasn’t exactly like Los Pepes. He was better, actually. Los Pepes is thought to have attacked Escobar’s family members and likely included rival drug dealers among their ranks. The Punisher is a decorated veteran who’s motivated by the tragic murder of his family and only kills criminals he knows to be murderers themselves.
Gutowski argues that the Punisher is the Los Pepes of the Marvel universe--a necessary extreme measure.
-via Jonah Goldberg