The Punisher logo has seen itself become attached to a number of real-world causes and belief structures that are troublesome, to say the least. Its most infamous usage to date came from the recent riots and attacks on the U.S. Capitol. One of the terrorists was spotted wearing the symbol on his chest on top of an American flag. It has brought the discussion around the insignia back into popular discussion. And now, it sounds like Disney/Marvel might actually be addressing this issue.
Insider Daniel Richtman is claiming that the folks over at Marvel want to change the Punisher’s logo after its prominent usage during the U.S. Capitol attack. It should be stressed that this is just a rumor at this point, but we would not be surprised to hear that such a discussion has happened. Whether or not it actually gets acted upon is another matter. Disney, who owns the Marvel brand, could possibly wait until things die down and the topic of the Punisher’s skull symbol fades from the discussion. There is definitely a reason to believe that is what will happen.
The entire controversy around the Punisher’s insignia is nothing new. The symbol has been popping up in relation to specific right-wing political movements for years now, and this inclusion at the U.S. Capitol attack is just one of the most disturbing displays of it. Yet, Disney has not acted on any strong copyright infringement or public discussion on the logo. Disney is a notoriously litigious company when it comes to enforcing the copyright on their characters and iconography. But, they don’t seem to be taking a strong stance against the proliferation of the Punisher symbol in regards to these politically-motivated renditions.
Could that finally be changing? Is Marvel going to try and do something about it? If the rumor is true, it sounds like Disney believes they will help scrub the symbol’s potency by removing it from the Punisher himself. That certainly couldn’t hurt but it is unlikely to stop it from being widely co-opted for these political reasons. At this point, the symbol has taken on a life of its own. If Disney really wanted to help decrease its power, they would start cracking down on unauthorized merchandise that carries the logo.
The less important question here is what the new Punisher logo would be. Would Disney strip the character of a recognizable logo entirely? Or would they try and manufacture a new symbol and hope it doesn’t fall into the same fate as the current insignia? It seems like the Mouse House is caught in a real bind here. They have to acknowledge the logo’s usage by extremist groups but what is their best PR move? And how to stop a symbol after it has entered our culture in a totally new way? Is it out of Disney’s hands at this point?
Hopefully, Marvel/Disney will do something to acknowledge the Punisher symbol’s usage with these horrific attacks and possibly find a way to penalize certain appropriations of it. They will certainly want to figure out something before they bring the character back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.