The Punisher-- Marvel/Netflix

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Turtletrekker, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It strikes me how odd it is that the Punisher's solo series so casually discarded the spinoff setup that Daredevil season 2 established. I mean, Frank ended that season putting on the costume (such as it is), finding a huge cache of weapons, and making plans to use them to hunt down the rest of the gangs and such he wanted vengeance on. But his solo series wraps all that up in the first five minutes, tosses it aside, starts him off fresh with no costume and no guns, and introduces a whole new set of enemies for him to hunt. It's kind of discordant.

    Particularly since that ending with him randomly finding that huge cache of guns was kind of silly and contrived, like he'd unlocked an achievement in a video game or something. If they'd actually followed up on it and explained it and used it, it could've made it feel less clumsy. The fact that it ended up being essentially ignored just makes it feel pointless.
     
  2. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm three episodes in, and so far I still believe that Wilson Fisk taking off the Russian mobster's head with his car door is the most gratuitously violent sequence on Marvel Netflix.
     
  3. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just got done with the season and honestly, I'm a bit 'meh' about the whole thing. It started interesting enough, dragged arse for the middle stretch and finished...well, it just finished.

    In fairness, that also described Luke Cage, which makes me think they might consider cutting these seasons down to just 10 or even 8 episodes. That or do what Daredevil seems to do which is shift focus mid-season so it doesn't feel like everyone is dandling, waiting for the finale.

    RE: the violence. The show is called 'The Punisher'. Not 'The Strong-Talking-To'er' or 'The Agree-To-Disagreer'. Violence is sort of his whole thing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But most of the gore wasn't actually shown on camera. The Punisher actually shows the killing shots/etc that most TV shows would cut away from. Also, Fisk was unambiguously the bad guy, his violence meant to be shocking and repellent, while this show is encouraging us to identify with Castle and see him as "a good man" even as he racks up an enormous body count (and seems to have been willing to use physical intimidation and force against his own son, which I would call child abuse).

    I wouldn't say the climactic flashback in "Kandahar" was gratuitous, because it did serve a story purpose (but then, so did the car-door murder, because it illustrated how brutal Fisk could be). But it was certainly far more difficult to watch than the Fisk scene, because it was far more immediate -- we were basically experiencing it from within Castle's head, feeling the intensity and extremity of it as he felt it. Maybe people who play first-person shooter video games are inured to that, but for me, it was kind of overwhelming. I think it was meant to be overwhelming and difficult; one thing I'll give this show is that I don't think it's trying to glorify or sanitize violence, but is showing its ugliness and consequences. But it's still piling on the graphic violence nonetheless, and in some regards it seems to be trying to have it both ways.
     
  5. flavaflav

    flavaflav Captain Captain

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    I’m now 8 episodes in and the violence is nothing compared to the dismemberments, beheadings, head smashing, graphic medical treatments, or burning people alive as seen in Daredevil. To this point, virtually every death in The Punisher has also been self defense and/or completely warranted without any overdone gore. Maybe it goes overboard in the last few eps, but to this point, it simply is not that bad and saying otherwise is not true.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As I said, I think it's missing the point to define it solely in terms of how much is shown. There's a big difference between lethal violence by the villains, which we're supposed to find repellent and evil, and lethal violence by the protagonists, which we're supposed to root for or at least forgive. The two make radically different statements, regardless of how much is actually shown onscreen. To me, a show that depicts killing people is "completely warranted" is a lot scarier than a show that depicts it as evil. Especially when there are people out there in real life whose deluded notions about "a good guy with a gun" are getting people killed on a daily basis.
     
  7. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Punisher is and always has been a war story. The level of violence and gore is about on par with what one might see in the likes of 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Black Hawk Down'. This is not just doing it for the sake of doing it, it's because the whole point is to show that violence is awful and has horrible consequences. Both physically for the person on the receiving end and psychologically for those inflicting and/or witnessing it.
     
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  8. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    I thought the show was relatively tame eight episodes in. I did not find it tame by the end. I don't want to give away the specific moment but let me know by the time you finish what you think.
     
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  9. flavaflav

    flavaflav Captain Captain

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    How is this any different than the peeps Iron Man or Cap kill? To this point, they are all on par and I see nothing to complain about violence/gore/killing in the name of wise.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    This isn't just about up/down moral judgments. It's about how different stories use violence as a story device in different ways, to different extents, in order to show different things. We're not supposed to see the Punisher as an unambiguous hero. The show isn't glorifying his violence or painting it as something to root for. It's showing it as something dark and extreme, showing Frank Castle as a troubled and complex man. It's showing how other people heading down similar violent paths are broken and need help. The Punisher was created as a villain, and has routinely been used as an antagonist for superheroes ever since, even though he's also been portrayed as the protagonist of his own series. The most he can be is an antihero, a character whose place on the moral spectrum is unclear at best.

    So if the show did portray his killing as something you could root for as easily as something Iron Man or Cap does, it would be doing it wrong. Good fiction serves its characters well. It explores who they are as individuals. A story that treats the Punisher as interchangeable with Captain America is a bad Punisher story, as well as a bad Captain America story. Even if they do both kill, it's important that the stories make us feel differently about how they do it and what it means about them as characters.

    So, as I said, it's not about whether the Kandahar flashbacks show more graphic gore or use more gallons of fake blood than the Kingpin door-murder scene or a Daredevil fight scene. It's not about anything so simplistic. It's about what the scenes make us feel about the characters and the situations we're watching. The Kandahar scene should feel more intense because the story and character arc need it to be more intense. It's showing the formative experience that turned Castle into the Punisher, that dragged him down into a darker place than any other Marvel protagonist. Understanding what he went through in Operation Cerberus is key to understanding where he still is in his head today, and why he does the things he does.
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    5th episode now, and I'm not sure that it passed the Bechdel test.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It has, through the scenes of Madani with her mother and Sarah Lieberman with her daughter. There is a Madani-Karen scene, and they're mostly talking about Frank Castle, but they do talk a bit about each other, so that's a partial pass.
     
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  13. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    Episode five when Karen and Madani talked about Madani's car accident was the moment I noticed that the show probably met the minimum required by the Bechdel Test.
     
  14. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do people still take the bechdel test seriously? It always struck me as a ludicrously narrow criteria that make massive sweeping assumptions that simply wouldn't apply to a great many feminist positive stories.
    Whether they do so or not, communicating with other women about things other than men is not what makes characters like Karen, Claire, Misty or Madani positive female characters. It's how they're three dimensional characters with interior lives, goals and opinions of their own.
     
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  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But we'd already seen two scenes of Madani with her mother (Shohreh Aghdashloo) before then, including in the very first episode. Although I guess her mother's name hasn't been mentioned in dialogue, so maybe it technically doesn't pass. But the credits call her Farah Madani.
     
  16. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    ^ I wasn't saying there weren't prior examples. I just didn't really notice or think about it until then.

    It's not the be all end all of things, but I have a problem with how many movies and television shows can't pass it. Short of a solo performance monologue, what excuse is there really?
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Neither did I, honestly. It's such a guy-heavy show that it's easy to assume it doesn't pass.

    Well, the Bechdel Test is more about a body of work in the aggregate. Sometimes there's a valid reason for a single work not to pass it -- for instance, if it only has two lead characters at all, like the movie Gravity. Last year I Bechdel-tested my own body of work out of curiosity, and I was surprised at how many of my original stories didn't pass even though the majority of them are centered on female lead characters. I just have too many stories that focus on one man and one woman.

    Still, you're right that the overall percentage of movies and TV shows that pass the test is way too low. Not every one has to, but if most of them don't, then that's a problem.
     
  18. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which I'm pretty sure was the intent of the thing all along: A way to highlight on overall trend, not a measuring stick by which to judge an individual story.

    I mean think about it just how easy it would be for say (for the sake of argument) a slasher movie that objectifies women and portrays them as weak victim's and/or a reward for the male hero to pass that test. All it would take is for it to have one scene at the start of the movie where the female victim has a conversation with her girl friend about what bitch her mother is.
    Conversely, a "based on a true story" type drama about a young unmarried woman trying to raise her infant son alone in the 1950's (again, for the sake of argument) might fail the test simply because any conversation she might have with other women are likely to either be about her son or some obstructionist patriarchal figure.

    So yeah, "does this particular show/movie/book pass the bechdel test" is never a useful question in and of itself.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  19. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    One of the advantages of the test is it forces people to think critically about things done through complacency. For example, a movie with two lead characters could easily pass the test. Just have two female lead characters. Doesn't have to happen in every case, but I'd wager you see far more movies with two male characters than two female characters.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, I've had that thought -- more of my stories would pass if I didn't have a Noah-like habit of pairing male and female characters two by two, or if I made more supporting characters female. I think that over time, I've gotten less prone to pair off my female leads with male leads. For instance, I recently wrote a story where the central character dynamic is between a female scientist and a teenage girl that she hopes to inspire (although that one has a fairly large cast for a short story, about equally male and female).