Can you believe that we’re only a few nights of sleep away from the much-anticipated The Punisher? Me neither. I distinctly remember being blown away by the out-of-nowhere announcement that The Walking Dead‘s Shane was going to be the MCU’s Frank Castle. I also remember being blown away the moment he stepped into the frame, firing a shotgun at a mobster inside a hospital in Daredevil Season 2. After waiting so long, we’re this close to seeing Frank come to life once more. And guess what? The reviews for the show are finally out!

In all, “The Punisher” is not just satisfying but surprising — an interpretation of Netflix and Marvel’s tried-and-true partnership that offers more depth and challenges to the audience than even the gritty world of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones.” Free from superpowers and superheroes, the Marvel universe is more forgiving — and more interesting. Of course, the slightly cartoony Marvel Cinematic Universe is still a world where people named Carson Wolf show up and act as if they are not obviously villains. But “The Punisher’s” place in it is a welcome morass of thorny questions and unresolvable answers. At least in this part of the television landscape, there is room for another antihero.Variety

By ignoring the craziness that’s gone down in the Netflix corner of the MCU in recent months, Punisher builds a world all its own full of CIA cover-ups, NSA investigations, and frenemies who are so ready to go to war with one other. The Punisher is the show Marvel Television needed. It’s the show that proves there might just be hope yet for the studio’s small screen ambitions. And yes, if we’re judging purely on the act of transforming into a character, Bernthal absolutely deserves an Emmy nomination for this one. His performance has been far elevated from the days of Daredevil.Forbes

It’s the cast that really brings it home. Bernthal specifically is at his absolute best here — a lesser performance could have derailed this attempt at a sort of new-look Punisher. Those surrounding him — Amber Rose Revah (a name you’ll want to remember), Ben Barnes, Ebon Moss-Bahrach, Jason R. Moore, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson and Daniel Webber in particular — hit just the right notes.The Wrap

Despite that, no matter the wheel-spinning, no matter the lack of action and customary MCU mid-season lull, I applaud Marvel for giving us a relatively restrained Frank Castle. It could’ve been oh-so-easy to go for the nuclear option and have The Punisher be, well, The Punisher. But there’s very little of that. And when Frank goes into full-on killer mode in the final stretch, it feels well-earned.Gamesradar

When these two elements are in alignment, The Punisher is riveting, politically adventurous entertainment, willing to get mired in the complexity of a nation that has come to define itself through the incalculable damage and untold amounts of killings done in the name of peace. When the need to set-up, reiterate, or preempt the plot becomes its more prominent concern, however, it’s emblematic of everything wrong with comic-book adaptations, on TV or elsewhere.Collider

I’d be willing to wager no one – not even the most ardent Punisher fan – would have expected this show to tackle themes like PTSD, homegrown terrorism, war veterans and gun control. But it does – and it does it with remarkable bravery and insight. There’s no way of knowing just how mass shootings, a uniquely American problem, will translate here – I remember seeing AK-47s being sold on J&K footpaths like wholesale vegetables – but at least we could try.Hindustan Times

At the end of the day, for hardcore fans of the character, The Punisher is bound to offer a better experience than the three failed big screen adaptations. But those looking for more escapism in their superhero storytelling might be better off revisiting the other equally dark but less dour Marvel/Netflix shows.We Got This Covered

And as expected, The Punisher was bound to be bogged down by its controversial trappings, especially given the political and social climate we live in.

It’s a conundrum: The Punisher is most effective when its title character is indiscriminately slaughtering his foes, but that’s also when it most consistently evokes the kinds of real-life horrors that pushed the premiere back once, and could have kept pushing it back indefinitely. There may hopefully be a time when Frank’s actions don’t instantly recall horrors from our world, but that version of his story will still need to be told much more compellingly than this.UPROXX

For a show which seemed, given the timing of its launch, to be so controversial, its most controversial element is its lack of controversy. Frank Castle does some bad things, but nothing as bad as what happens in America on a regular basis. As a narrative about veterans trying to find their place in the world, “The Punisher” has something to say. But it could have been so much shorter, and its placement in the Marvel universe feels tangential at best.Indiewire

The Punisher has more in common with Iron Fist than Jessica Jones or Luke Cage, although I wouldn’t insult Punisher with a direct comparison. Where Iron Fist was painfully incompetent, The Punisher is just slow and overly long, failing to grasp the power of its title character. It also suffers from a recurring problem in Marvel’s Netflix franchise: uninspired crime writing. Madani’s investigation was simple yet hard to follow, often seeming to “discover” something we already knew.Daily Dot

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