‘The Punisher’ Goes Head to Head with Justice League in November

In the wake of this month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas — the single deadliest shooting in US history, which left 58 dead and 546 injured — Marvel and Netflix made the decision to delay the release of their latest superhero TV series, The Punisher.  Although many fans were upset to have to wait even longer for the highly anticipated series, the two entertainment giants made the right decision.

The immediate aftermath of such a terrible and deadly event was not the right time to release a show about a supposed hero who bears a rather striking resemblance to the man who perpetrated the crime.  Series protagonist Frank Castle is gun-wielding vigilante who mows down anybody and everybody who gets between him and what he considers justice for his family.

The character is fascinating, the setting is richly developed over numerous tie-in series and movies and the plot is certainly a compelling one.  By all accounts, Marvel is looking at another slam-dunk outing to their celebrated shared superhero universe.  And yes, in the wake of unprecedented tragedy, they made the tactful decision to not immediately celebrate a character perpetrating many similar acts to the heinous perpetrator of that October 1st shooting.

Marvel fans needn’t fear being denied their small screen fix for long, however.  Marvel has just announced a new release date for their series: November 17.  And if that date sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve been paying attention to when one of the year’s biggest movie releases.  The Punisher hits Netflix the same day that DC’s Justice League hits theaters.

I don’t think that anybody seriously thinks that The Punisher — a low-budget TV series released exclusively through a single content streaming service — will somehow outperform Justice League: Warner Bros’ long-anticipated answer to 2012’s The Avengers.  Although they share nearly identical audiences and a release date, there’s just no comparing the earning potential for a major blockbuster and a rink-a-dink, Daredevil spin-off series.

No, The Punisher isn’t going to somehow put Justice League “in its place.”  No matter what you think of the upcoming DCEU movie or its earning potential, The Punisher is simply outclassed by it in every way (at least in terms of how much money it stands to take in).

At the same time, however, it is an interesting gauntlet to throw down for the MCU.  It’s doomed to lose to Justice League, that much is a given, but it’s one more major stumbling block in Justice League‘s way to earning back its unexpectedly ballooning budget.  Between the horrid cinematic lead-ins, its increasingly shaky fanbase, the extensiveness (and substantial expense) of its multiple stages of reshoots, the troubling rumors of an imminent reboot (via the planned Flashpoint movie) and the fact that even Ben Affleck (one of the series’ biggest selling points) is apparently trying to opt out of his contractual obligations as Batman, there’s not all that much to look forward to.

Given how expensive the movie has become since the start of its post-production and how many warning signs have been flashed along the way, few fans seem to expect greatness from this project.  If it’s so much as watchable, that might be achievement enough.  And if The Punisher can convince enough DC fans to stay home to binge the new series instead it might just be the final nail in the coffin for a franchise that has struggled to find its footing since Man of Steel.

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