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Top 10 Differences Between The Punisher TV Show and Comics

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Written by Andrew Tejada After more than 40 years in the comics, this anti-hero has gone through more than a few changes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for top 10 differences between The Punisher comic and its Netflix tv show. For this list, we're looking at the most notable changes that were made when the comics were adapted to the screen. Since these changes are loaded behind major plot points, beware of spoilers firing in your direction. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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After more than 40 years in the comics, this anti-hero has gone through more than a few changes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for top 10 differences between The Punisher comic and its Netflix tv show.

For this list, we're looking at the most notable changes that were made when the comics were adapted to the screen. Since these changes are loaded behind major plot points, beware of spoilers firing in your direction.

#10: The Punisher's Motivations

In most comic versions of the Punisher, he starts his vigilante career to get revenge for his family’s murder. After taking out the people responsible for their death, he continues to fight crime and punish criminals. Although the TV version of the Punisher starts his crusade to avenge his family, he stops killing when he believes everyone responsible is dead. He only starts killing again to defend his friends and to punish more people connected to his family’s death. Once Frank finishes his quest, he’s unsure of what to do next. But if it were the comics, he’d probably be looking for his next target.

#9: Karen’s Relationship to Frank

The MCU’s Karen Page and Frank Castle have a complicated relationship. When they first met, Frank nearly shot Karen while trying to kill a criminal. Since then, their relationship has changed drastically, so much so that Frank is now willing to take a bullet for her. Throughout this season, they take huge risks for each other and share a few intimate moments. But this strong relationship is entirely new to The Punisher’s story. Karen was Daredevil’s love interest for most of her run in the comics and never really interacted with Frank. The MCU may be the first time the two have partnered up, but they’re definitely making up for lost time.

#8: He’s Not a Vietnam Veteran

One of the cornerstones of Frank’s backstory is his military service in Vietnam. It’s so tied to his character that he was still depicted as a Vietnam vet into well into the 2000s. However, we learn in the show that Frank served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The update was obviously done to modernize the character - if Frank served in Vietnam in the MCU, he’d be in his 60s. Jon Bernthal is a bit too young to pull that off. Secondly, by rooting his military service in a recent conflict, the writers are able to make more relevant statements about war in our modern times.

#7: The Spider-Man Connection

In 1974, the Punisher made his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #129 as a villain. He set his sights on Spider-Man after being tricked into thinking the webhead was a criminal by the Jackal. By the end of the issue, The Punisher recognizes that Spidey is in fact a hero and disappears. After that debut story, Spider-Man and Punisher have made many appearances together in both comics and beyond, sometimes as enemies, sometimes as allies. Although we have an MCU Spider-Man in Tom Holland, we didn’t see him swinging around this season, and considering the vast difference in tone between the two, it’s easy to see why - we’ll still hold out hope for a future crossover, though.

#6: Billy Russo Was a Good Friend

Don’t call him pretty. In the series, Billy Russo is a marine that served with Frank and became one of his closest friends. But when it’s revealed that Russo let Frank’s family get murdered, they become vicious enemies. Their conflict hasn’t always been so complicated. In the comics, Russo never served with Frank. Instead, he’s an assassin nicknamed “The Beaut” who’s sent to kill The Punisher. When he fails to complete the job, Frank finds him and rams his face into glass repeatedly. Russo suffers the same fate in the show. However, his long history with Frank gives the brutal punishment a more tragic tone.

#5: Curtis Hoyle

Not all of Punisher’s friends have gone bad. In the comics, Curtis Hoyle originally met Frank while serving in the Vietnam War. After the war ended, Hoyle joined a drug cartel and was eventually killed by the Punisher. Fortunately, Curtis chose a different path in the TV series. He not only provides counseling to fellow veterans, but is willing to do anything it takes to protect Frank. Actor Jason R. Moore does a great job of establishing Curtis’ bond to Frank as well as honestly portraying a disabled soldier. His performance turned a one-off Punisher foe into one of Frank’s greatest allies.

#4: The Punisher's Real Name

In the comics, Frank Castle’ birth name is Francis Castiglione. Depending on what version of his backstory you read, either Frank’s parents changed his name or Frank took up the Castle moniker so that he could illegally reenlist in the Vietnam war. In the show, The Punisher is born as Frank Castle. However, at the beginning of the series, we find that Frank is calling himself Pete Castiglione to avoid detection. At the end of the season, the government officially changes Frank’s name to Pete Castiglione thus bringing his name change saga full circle.

#3: The Skull

Even people who aren’t familiar with the Punisher would recognize his symbol. The white skull on a black background is an iconic and intimidating image. Most variations of the character have Frank wearing the symbol on a shirt or a full body jumpsuit, but he’s rarely if ever seen out in the field without it. On TV, however, the skull isn’t seen much, and Frank spends most of the season operating without it. Seeing as the Punisher is a wanted criminal at the start of the series, it makes complete sense for him to avoid wearing his symbol on the way to the store. Luckily for fans, the skull returns in a big way near the end of the season.

#2: The Reason His Family Is Killed

In every version of the character, Frank’s family is always doomed to meet an untimely end. But the reason why they were murdered has changed. In most versions of the comic, the family is enjoying a day of leisure when they witness a mob shooting. The mob immediately guns them down to eliminate witnesses. In the show, Frank’s family is killed in Central Park when they get caught in a shootout between 3 gangs. However, Frank later discovers that the shootout was part of an elaborate plan to take him out for his actions overseas. The fact that he was intended to be the sole target of the shooting makes this reveal another tragic update to Punisher’s story.

#1: Micro Is Completely Different

Micro got a serious upgrade from his origins. In the comics, David Lieberman is a brilliant hacker nicknamed Micro that became famous for his cybercrimes. After his pregnant wife leaves him and his nephew is killed, he partners with the Punisher to enact some vengeance. The new Lieberman has a supportive family, but has to fake his death after he discovers an incriminating military video. Although the new Micro doesn’t always agree with Frank, the two stand by each other. At the end of the season, their partnership allows Lieberman to get what his character never had in the comics−a happy ending.
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