While Netflix’s The Punisher has nothing on Justice League‘s bizarre trek to the big screen, it’s kind of remarkable in its own way that we’re even getting this series at all. In a country that averages one mass shooting every single day, who actually thought they could market a gun-toting vigilante to share the same world with a magical space Viking and a talking raccoon?
Yet the Punisher has remained one of Marvel’s most popular and frequently adapted properties. The character has been featured in four live action movies, appeared across multiple animated properties (including a particularly fun straight-to-DVD team-up with Black Widow) and now his own solo series after the character’s explosive appearance in Daredevil Season 2, where he was presented as the dark opposite of the Man Without Fear.
Although not the big bad from that series’ second season, the character proved to be the most popular part of it: handily winning out against other fan favorite Elektra and the undead ninja clan The Hand (who featured heavily into The Defenders earlier this year). His appearance not only challenged the ethos of heroes that audiences have longed been trained to accept at face value, but everything from the two-faced treatment of veterans, often self-serving criminal justice system and the woefully deficient American mental health system.
While the character himself wasn’t the kind of haphazard, “shoot first, ask questions later” gun nut that he was often presumed to be, there was never any question that his methods were uncomfortably familiar to many Americans. And in the wake of the recent Las Vegas shooting, which occurred mere days before the series was originally supposed to be released, Netflix made the right and proper decision to delay its distribution until after that tragedy’s immediate aftermath.
The replacement date that they chose was an odd choice, to say the least. The same day that Netflix decided to make their latest superhero series available to the public was, well, today: the same day that Justice League was set to hit theaters in the United States.
Thankfully, entertainment isn’t a zero sum game. While it’s not likely that Netflix subscribers were going to skip the latest Marvel series wholesale, neither was it likely that they were going to stay in over the opening weekend of one of the highest profile superhero movies ever made. The Punisher was likely to lose out in the clash between the two properties, but it’s not as if people couldn’t just catch up with the series on Sunday, either.
But with Justice League not looking like the DCEU savior that so many had been holding out for, maybe The Punisher‘s release date will prove to be better for it than people, myself included, gave it credit for. Maybe it’ll ultimately prove to be a better use of everybody’s time to just curl up on the couch and marathon this instead. Maybe The Punisher will be what takes that last, desperately needed edge off of Justice League‘s opening weekend gross: nothing major, mind you, but enough.